Apr 30, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) waits to enter the game against the Los Angeles Clippers in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
5. Block Party
Kristaps Porzingis has been compared to many NBA legends as a defensive prospect, including 2008 Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnett. Those lofty comparisons may be unrealistic, but there’s no denying Porzingis’ upside as a shot-blocker.
If Porzingis is able to shine in that capacity as a rookie, he’ll only add fuel to the fire of the legendary comparisons.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, no rookie has averaged better than 2.0 blocks per game since Pau Gasol in 2001-02. Before Gasol, both Tim Duncan and Michael Stewart achieved the feat in 1997-98.
If Porzingis can utilize his 7’3″ size and impressive wingspan to the best of his abilities, he could have the prestigious honor of joining Duncan and Gasol in NBA history.
Rookies averaged 2.0-plus blocks per game with reasonable regularity during the 1980s and 1990s. The likes of Sam Bowie, Marcus Camby, Mark Eaton, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal all achieved the feat.
Since the turn of the century, however, Gasol is the only player to have averaged at least 2.0 blocks per contest.
Porzingis reaching that point isn’t to be written as likely, but he should float around the 1.5 mark. He has great instincts as a shot-blocker, and his combination of size and length gives him an inherent advantage over most who have come before him.
Should Porzingis manage to reach and maintain the 2.0 mark by the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, the upside talk would reach an all-time high. How could it not?
Duncan and Gasol would make for nice and rare company.
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