New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale believes that franchise player Kristaps Porzingis can master the most critical step in his development: Becoming a leader.
New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis has proven that he knows how to make an impact on the court. He’s one of the best rim protectors in the NBA, as well as a dynamic scoring threat who can shoot the lights out from distance and score at a high rate from the post.
As the Knicks attempt to return to postseason form, however, Porzingis will be tasked with thriving in a new role: Leader.
Porzingis has spent the better part of his first three NBA seasons learning the ropes. There have been moments of inconsistency, but his motor has run high and his quality of play has bordered on superstar-caliber, which ultimately resulted in an All-Star Game selection in 2017-18.
"“We talked about how Kristaps would take on a bigger role,” Fizdale told Sportacentrs.com in an article published Tuesday morning. “We will have a new team in which Kristaps will be quite a veteran. We talked about the ways in which I see him naturally becoming the leader of the team. Of course, I told him how we see him lifting his game to the next level. I said, ‘Let’s do this together.’ We went to the gym and the beach. Our get-together was great, I got a concrete and good impression of his home.”"
There are a seemingly infinite number of talented players in the NBA, but there are few All-Stars who actually take on the role of being a leader.
Porzingis has a rare advantage over most in the sense that he’s a star-caliber contributor on both ends of the floor. Statistically, he and Anthony Davis were the only two players in the NBA who averaged at least 20.0 points and 2.0 blocks per game in 2017-18.
He was also one of just 13 players in the NBA who had a positive Offensive Real Plus-Minus and a Defensive RPM above 2.00.
Beyond the numbers, Porzingis provides a powerful effort on the defensive end of the floor on a nightly basis—the first step towards securing a leadership position.
Porzingis has already been going the extra mile off the court, as evidenced by his consistent communication with incoming rookie Kevin Knox. Coupled with his tireless effort to return from a torn ACL, and his off-court work in Latvia, the 22-year-old is already setting quite the example.
Thankfully, Fizdale understands the manner in which Porzingis leads—and plans to empower him once he returns to New York.
The New York Knicks have talent, but it’s Kristaps Porzingis who will be the most important piece of the puzzle—both on and off the court.