Kevin Durant Calls Kristaps Porzingis ‘a Unicorn’
Kristaps Porzingis continues to get praised during his rookie campaign. The 7’3″ Latvian is now being called “a unicorn” by Kevin Durant.
During Summer League, New York Knick‘s rookie Kristaps Porzingis drew some high praise from an NBA legend. Three-time NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP, and seven-time All-Star, James Worthy compared Porzingis to a couple of modern legends in their own right.
Worthy called the 7’3″ Latvian a combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant. When Nowitzki came into town, the Dallas star said the Knicks’ rookie is the real deal and that he had tremendous upside. Despite many comparisons to arguably the best international basketball player of all-time, Porzingis acknowledged that he still had a lot to learn from Nowitzki.
Now with Durant in town for a matchup with New York, Porzingis is drawing high praise from the seven-time All-Star, and 2014 Most Valuable Player. Durant is impressed with the rookie’s rare combination of skill and size, calling Porzingis “a unicorn” per Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“I think we’ve gotten away from enjoying the skilled players in this league,’’
“We’ve got so many guys that are athletic and big and strong, but he’s a skilled player. He can shoot, make the right plays, he can defend, he’s a 7-footer that can shoot all the way out to the 3-point line. That’s rare. And blocks shots. That’s like a unicorn in this league. You’ve got to respect what he’s doing. This being New York City, everything is under a microscope, but he’s progressing at a high rate pretty fast and he’s gonna be a force.’’
And apparently Durant knew Porzingis was “a unicorn” all along, contacting former-teammate and current Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher right away when the Latvian was selected.
“Yeah, no doubt,’’ “No doubt. Most definitely. When they made the pick, I texted [Fisher] immediately and I said I liked the pick. A lot of people were down on him. but he can play. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. He’s a skilled guy.’’
Porzingis is only halfway through his rookie season and still has a long way to go before even coming close to accomplishing any of the milestones that Nowitzki and Durant has achieved. Both have numerous All-Star selections. Both have numerous All-NBA First Team selections. Both have been the league’s Most Valuable Player.
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Both has been accomplished a 50-40-90 season, where the player shoots a percentage at or above 50% on field goals, 40% from three-pointers, and 90% from the free-throw line. An extremely rare feat., only six players has ever had such a season.
As much skill as Porzingis has displayed so far this season, the rookie is nowhere close to joining the 50-40-90 club. Currently Porzingis is averaging 42.6% on field goals, 33.8% from three-pointers, and 85.4% from the free-throw line.
No Knick has ever had a 50-40-90 season. Although New York’s current point guard, Jose Calderon – almost accomplished such an astonishing shooting season in 2008-2009. Calderon just missed joining the club by shooting 49.7% on field goals.
Only one Knick has ever been named NBA Most Valuable Player, “the Captain” Willis Reed. Reed averaged 21.7 points and 13.9 rebounds per game, leading New York to 60 wins in the 1969-1970 season. And New York’s first NBA Championship!
Hopefully, Porzingis down the line will be able to accomplish some of these amazing milestones of players that he is compared to. Or even coming close to sniffing such milestones, would be amazing to be perfectly honest.
For now, Porzingis will settle for just trying to learn from legends. Study tape, study their game. Then, maybe someday we can put Porzingis’ name up their with the likes of Nowitzki and Durant.