In the aftermath of the New York Knicks drafting Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 NBA draft, New Yorkers were in a state of shock and disbelief. After the Knicks passed on proven prospects such as Willie Cauley-Stein, Emmanuel Mudiay, Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow, Knicks fans were once again angry at management.
Can you blame them? In previous drafts, New York chose Renaldo Balkman over Rajon Rondo and passed on Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, for Frederic Weis.
For once in their recent history, it seems like the Knicks might have struck gold in the draft. From the outset of the summer league this past July in Las Vegas, Porzingis proved that he isn’t going to be pushed around by opponents on the court or ridiculed by the tough New York media off the court.
Fast forward five months after getting drafted and Porzingis is the talk of the town.
From day one of the season, Porzingis has shown flashes of what he can do once he puts it all together. He’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance that have paralleled Dirk Nowitzki, and has shown a defensive grittiness of Knicks past—word to Charles Oakley.
Porzingis has helped the Knicks in many ways throughout this young season. The area he’s impressed the most is on the boards. His size helps him against opponents; after all, he’s 7’3”.
His ability to bang around in the paint will be useful throughout his NBA career, especially on the boards. 78 percent of Prozingis’ rebounds comes from missed 2-point field goal attempts, while 18 percent come from missed 3-point attempts—a huge upgrade for the Knicks.
Call me crazy, but Porzingis might be the Knicks’ best big man since Patrick Ewing—no offense Tyson Chandler.
Currently, Porzingis is averaging 17.5 rebounds per 100 possessions.
Look at the impact Porzingis has made on the Knicks thus far during the season. He’s shown resolve. Hey, just ask the Spurs and the Bucks. In the last three games, he had a combined 18 offensive rebounds.
Offensively, Porzingis has picked up for the struggling Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is 24-of-71 in his last four games. Yes, he’s 31, coming off knee surgery, and it’s still early in the season, but Anthony’s struggles should be something to pay attention to.
Currently, Anthony is averaging his lowest scoring output in 10 years.
Porzingis has shown an ability to score in multiple ways; in the post and on the perimeter. His size makes it almost impossible for defenders to block his shot. The chart below shows the areas on the court where Porzingis is most effective.
If head coach Derek Fisher tinkered with his lineup and played Anthony at power forward and Porzingis at center, it might pay dividends for the Knicks. They would pick up the pace on offense.
Porzingis might be at his most dangerous at center because he can use his quickness and various ways of scoring on slower traditional centers.
Porzingis has room to grow on defense, especially in the post, but what he lacks in physical strength, he makes up for in heart. Despite being a rookie, Porzingis, alongside front-court mate Robin Lopez, is one of the best at patrolling the paint in the league.
Porzingis holds his opponents to 40.0 percent shooting at the rim, which is second on the team behind Lopez at 35.7 percent, per NBA.com.
The jury is still out on Porzingis. He still has a lot to learn before he fulfills his potential.
He has all the right people around him to help cultivate his game, and being in a city that turns ordinary players into legends is a plus.