Time to be Over-optimistic About Kristaps Porzingis!


New York Knicks‘ fans are normally a pessimistic bunch, but rookie Kristaps Porzingis’ Friday night performance showed there might be something to be optimistic about. Porzingis came out aggressive Friday night, after looking mostly tentative in his first preseason game, resulting in a so-so performance. In his second game, Porzingis would sing a different tune.

Despite air-balling his first attempt from the field, on the ensuing possession Porzingis would not hesitate and immediately fired away a 21-foot jumper. Splash! Bradley Beal then came racing down the court taking an ill-advised quick shot. Porzingis collected the rebound, collecting the same amount of rebounds (2) within three minutes of play in his second game, as it took him to record in 20.35 minutes of action in his first preseason game.

Two possessions later, Porzingis would wind-up in a mismatch in semi-transition and sealed off Beal, giving him a free lane to the rim. Unfortunately, Porzingis blew the layup but the aggressiveness was encouraging to see. Another two possessions later, Porzingis gave a dribble hand-off to Jose Calderon, resulting in a wide-open layup for Calderon because both defenders miscommunicated, not wanting to leave Porzingis open after his hot start. These are the type of effects (dubbed gravitational pull for great-shooters by Zach Lowe of Grantland) a player like Dirk Nowitzki/Kevin Durant has on his teammates! James Worthy called it!

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Then…New York stopped feeding the ball to Porzingis…first…Carmelo Anthony demanded for the ball in the low-post…taking the shot over two defenders…then two possession later, Anthony would run down the court heaving a three-pointer with 18 seconds remaining on the shot-clock … After taking the ill-advised three-pointer…on the very next possession Anthony would demand the ball again…this time getting the ball stripped as he attempted to pull up for a jumper. Four possessions later… Anthony demanded the ball in the low-post yet again, despite being covered by two players…drawing a foul…which I guess is a positive… By which point Porzingis was substituted out of the game for rest.

If Anthony truly wants to be a “big brother” to Porzingis…let the young fella eat… Anthony you already have 7,447 regular-season field goals made and 589 Playoffs field goals made… This is a meaningless exhibition game…let Porzingis wet his beak…

After Porzingis’ hot start… the Latvian rookie was a complete after-thought for seven straight offensive possessions… Shouldn’t the Knicks use preseason to build up the rookie’s confidence? Call a play for Porzingis, coach Fisher!

Porzingis did not come back into the game until there was 4:02 remaining in the first half. Although, it would be more of the same…Anthony taking the shots…but at least this time they were falling. Porzingis also looked out of sync after resting, being out of bounds when receiving a pass from Anthony and then committing a defensive three-seconds violation shortly after.

Porzingis missed another good-look inside early in the second half as he dropped step into the paint for a left-handed layup. Although, Porzingis would not be deterred. A minute and a half later, Porzingis pump-faked a three-pointer and easily drove by his defender, pulling up for an open mid-range jumper. SPLASH! Porzingis’ ability to put the ball on the floor along with his ability to shoot, will make him extremely deadly!

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Porzingis finally got a buck in the paint to fall, as he went straight at Marcin Gortat for a layup. Porzingis on the next play took a three, the long rebound ignited a fastbreak, which Porzingis fouled to stop the action, as he looked tired and could not get back on defense. He was immediately substituted out for Derrick Williams, and would not return to the game as Williams scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, giving New York a 115-104 victory in high scoring second preseason game.

Porzingis had himself a very productive night, with a plus15 +/-, almost collecting a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds. The rebounding was nice to see from Porzingis, the rookie only collected two rebounds in his first preseason game, double digits is a MAJOR improvement. Porzingis also showed off his defensive abillity with two blocks Friday night.

All-in-all, Friday night showed why Phil Jackson and the organization was so high on him on draft night, and more importantly, gives Knicks’ fans something to be optimistic about heading into the 2015-2016 season.

Next: Knicks Win in High Scoring Second Preseason Game