Kobe Bryant Praises Kristaps Porzingis, While Byron Scott Admits Being Wrong


The Los Angeles Lakers held pre-draft workouts for Kristaps Porzingis and had their chance to draft the 7’3″ Latvian, owning the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft but instead decided to draft 6’5″ point guard D’Angelo Russell.

According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News it sounds like it was because Lakers management was worried about his confidence and attitude. Something that now seems foolish to have worried about, six games into the season and Porzingis is lacking anything but the right attitude and confidence. It is safe to say Porzingis has shed any labels of being a “soft Euro” with all those monster put-back dunks in this early season.

Head coach Byron Scott admits as much, that he was wrong about Porzingis.

"“He really didn’t show any fear. We just thought it would take him some time,”“Obviously we’re a little wrong about that. He’s playing pretty well right now.”"

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It really does sound like Scott and the Lakers were worried about Porzingis’ ability to adjust to a new life in the United States and NBA. Which so far does not seem to be the case at all for the rookie. Porzingis is averaging 12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game so far. The one drawback is that Porzingis might be too aggressive… averaging 4.2 fouls per game, mostly on foolish rookie fouls.

Scott feels that it is hard to measure intangibles and felt that they misjudged Porzingis’ intangible attributes, even saying he will be a special player in the future.

"“The one thing we can’t test is your heart. We can’t test guys in what they have inside of them. Obviously this kid has a hunger to be really good,”“The kid is going to be really special one day.”"

Kobe Bryant also weighed in with his opinion on Porzingis, giving praise to the kid.

"“He looks pretty damn good,”“He’s skillful, can do a lot of things and seems very competitive. He has a good competitive spirit about him.”"

When word gets back to Porzingis that Bryant lay such praise on him, he will be beaming from ear to ear to hear that one of his favorite players growing up (revealed in a Twitter Q & A) appreciates his game.

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Even though the Lakers admit to being wrong on passing over Porzingis, it is understandable because Los Angeles already spent their 2014 first round pick on a forward in Julius Randle. Randle in essentially what is his rookie season (breaking his right tibiais in the his first game in the NBA, costing him the rest of his season) is doing pretty well, averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Although a frontcourt of Randle and Porzingis would have crazy potential in the future.

When Porzingis is compared to Russell per 36 minutes though, it looks like it is a no brainier that Porzingis projects out to be a better player. Per 36 minutes Porzingis stats are 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game, an absolute stud. Russell’s per 36 minutes stats are 15 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, decent but not great.

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Only time will tell if the Lakers whiffed on their chance to draft Porzingis. As a Knick fan, I for one am glad they did.