There’s nothing hyperbolic about the following statement: Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks have invested the future of the organization in Kristaps Porzingis. New York selected the Latvian big man at No. 4 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft and are developing him as an anchor to the defense and Triangle Offense.
The future flashed before the Knicks’ very eyes on Monday, November 2.
Porzingis finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, three steals and two blocks against LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. He was inefficient in his shooting, but his upside was on full display.
Unfortunately, Porzingis left the game with a terrifying neck injury.
Thankfully, Porzingis was able to leave the floor under his own power.
It was a scary moment for everyone who witnessed it.
The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ 94-84 loss to the Spurs. After Kristaps Porzingis fell to the floor while battling for a loose ball, Carmelo Anthony lost his balance and fell onto Porzingis’ head and neck.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the result of the incident was a soft tissue injury.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York offered further details about the injury:
That had the potential to be very bad.
Any time a neck or head injury occurs, the expectations shift to the worst possible scenario. Not only do injuries of that nature sideline players, but they have the potential to end careers and damage lives.
The great news is that Porzingis is experiencing stiffness, but isn’t facing anything serious.
Knicks fans can release a collective sigh of relief.
Porzingis’ importance to the future of the Knicks is undeniable. His selection in the 2015 NBA Draft signaled a commitment to his upside, and losing him for any period of time would thus stunt his growth.
With his future preserved, Porzingis opened up on the incident, per Begley on ESPN New York.
"“I was just laying on the floor in a lot of pain,” he said. “I couldn’t really move my neck at that point. With time it got a little better.”“Now I’ve just got to try to relax my neck as much as possible … because they’re so stiff,” Porzingis said. “Just get some rest and take some pills for the muscles to relax and recover quicker.”"
The relentless work ethic persists.
Porzingis has struggled to play with efficiency thus far in 2015-16, but the box score is quite misleading. The rising star has begun to live up to the hype, displaying rare versatility and mountains of potential.
It’s no guarantee that he’ll realize his upside, but Porzingis is proving that he has the tools to be great.
Defensively, his instincts as a shot blocker are intriguing. He’s aggressive and physical, and once he discovers how to properly use his body, he could be one of the NBA’s most imposing rim protectors.
Offensively, Porzingis’ versatility is invaluable. He can attack off the bounce, operate with his back to the basket, space the floor with deep 3-point range and is an excellent free throw shooter.
In a season dedicated entirely to finding his niche, numbers only mean so much for Porzingis.
At this point, the only true concern in New York is whether or not he’ll be healthy in 2015-16. He’s experienced issues with his upper left leg and now faces a neck injury.
Fortunately for the Knicks and their fans, Porzingis’ neck injury is limited to stiffness. In other words, a brief absence would be both precautionary and wise—not career-altering or a sign of his being injury-prone.
It was a scary moment, but Porzingis is healthier than expected and should make a full recovery.