“ You used to boo me on my draft day”- How Kristaps Porzingis went from being boo’ed to being praised

Image source: http://sportsoftheday.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/kriss.jpg

Who the **** is this?! What the **** is Phil Jackson doing!?” was my first reaction when I looked at my phone and seen who the Knicks took with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 nba draft. When I started to go on social media and see what were draft viewers’ reactions, I wasn’t alone at the disappoint of the Knicks’ selection. Kristaps Porzingis. 7'3". 240 lbs. Power forward/center.20 years young. I thought he would just be one of those players from overseas who was dominate over there and try to make his way to the NBA and ultimately be a bust. Be in the NBA for a 2–4 years before deciding to go back to his country. We seen it happen, Yi Jianlian, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro etc. We seen their play but Porzingis is different. With his swagger and his game. “Give him a chance, I got a feeling he’s going to good,” said my longtime friend and fellow NBA fan, Leroy Proudfoot. Now everytime we see Porzingis do a play that we approve of, we scream “PORZINGISSSSS!!!”

For most, playing in New York can either make or break their career. Just ask Jeremy Lin. New York is a major media city and the bright lights, the hype, the skyscrapers, can tend to scare a player away from playing here. Jeremy Lin came here while his career was on a downhill track, was given the opportunity and is now a regular rotation player. As for Kristaps Porzingis, he wasn’t traded to the Knicks. He was drafted into a team, looking for hope, looking for a spark. Despite being boo’ed on draft day when Adam Silver called his name, Porzingis went to prove he belongs in the NBA. Foreign players usually get the unfair, premature impression that they are soft. Some players still are labeled as “soft” even though they went on to have great careers (Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki). In the NBA, being “soft” means not being physical, wanting to settle for jump shots, not getting down low and rebounding, not playing defense. Porzingis is now known for his putback dunks off misses (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t95MuUIVsxA). Still think he’s soft after that video? For a good portion of the season, he has averaged over sevem rebounds and close to two blocks. He shoots about 56% from 0–3 ft away from the basket. He shoots close to 36% from 3–10 ft which will improve once he gains some weight and muscle as he is only 240 lbs which isn’t bad but he is still only 20 and getting used to the strength of the NBA. He isn’t taking many shots down in the paint as only about 22% of his points come from 0–3 ft but his most deadly weapon coming into the NBA was his range. He is only shooting about 33% from outside, which is respectable for a rookie especially from overseas (international play has a short three point distance). But is impressive for a big man nonetheless.

*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com

**Stats as of March 19th,2016.

Most people would problem right off the back compare Porzingis to Dirk Nowitzki because of his height, shooting touch and international background. Porzingis is already proving he can probably be a better rebounder than Dirk when he finally becomes established in the league. Dirk’s total rebound percentage for his career so far is 12.7% while Porzingis’ is already at 14.2%. Dirk was always a great shooter to complement his height, hitting about 38% of all the threes of his career. Porzingis is at 33% and he’s STILL LEARNING. Being seven foot does help with shooting threes because it’s not much a defender can do. He already has a good repertoire of post moves, showing flashes of the dream shake, (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e4mcgckxCuY). He has a long way from joining the 50–40–90 club like Dirk has been apart of, but with Kristaps’ skill set, he should be able to reach those percentages. Dirk’s career percentages are 47% from the field, 38% from three and close to 88% from the free throw line. Porzingis is shooting 42% from the field, 33% from three, and 84% from the line. Expect those percentages to go up when he gets used to the NBA game more, adjusting to the strength, longer distances, and long seasons. Porzingis will be a star in this league, very soon. Many people believe the Knicks need to get rid of Carmelo Anthony for him to become the star but I believe Porzingis will be a star even with Melo there. 7'3, shooting touch, skills like a small forward, why wouldn’t he become a star? Why we ever boo him on his draft day?

*Stats provided by Basketball-Reference.com

**Article originally published March 14, 2016