Knicks: How Kristaps Porzingis Can Make NBA History

4 of 6

Pau Gasol is the only European player in NBA history to win Rookie of the Year. Could Kristaps Porzingis be next? Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

3. Rookie of the Year: European Excellence

Since the honor was introduced in 1952-53, Rookie of the Year has been dominated by Americans. There have been a select few exceptions, but generally speaking, it’s gone to players born or raised in the United States of America.

Kristaps Porzingis could help signal a significant change of the guard.

The last time a European player won Rookie of the Year was 2002. Pau Gasol, then a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, took home the hardware on the heels of a dominant first season.

Not only is Gasol the most recent European player to win the award, but he’s the only European player to win the award—ever.

If Porzingis is able to remain healthy and productive, he could join Gasol in NBA history. He’d be the first Latvian player to win the award and just the second European.

With a recent surge in European prospects making waves in the NBA Draft, Porzingis could be the rising star to usher in a legitimate change of basketball scenery.

Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic is also a candidate to do this, but Porzingis has the upper hand. He’s playing on a team without a defined No. 2 scorer, which opens the door for him to pad his statistics.

A lights-out shooter who can block shots, go to the post and rebound at a high level, Porzingis could put his continent on his back. If he does, it could be a sign of things to come.

An international basketball revolution is brewing.

Next: An International Takeover