’ve talked a lot of shit about the New York Knicks’ 4th overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, Kristaps Porzingis. I’ve called him names such as The Human Scarecrow, a shitty Bane that no one is afraid of, a human stick figure, the man who got cursed by the old lady in Stephen King’s Thinner, Andrea Bargnani Lite, etc. I was absolutely furious when the Knicks drafted him, but after watching a few NBA Summer League games, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real-life Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man Kristaps Porzingis is OK, I guess.
LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 14: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against Kristaps Porzingis #46 of the New York Knicks during the 2015 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 14, 2015 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
I find it interesting that Porzingis wears number 46, which is approximately how many pounds of muscle he must gain in order to be an effective frontcourt player in the NBA. After watching him play in 3 NBA Summer League games, I must admit he is not the abomination I once thought him to be, but an OK player for a rebuilding Knicks franchise. Throw out any expectations of New York winning an NBA Championship while ‘Melo is the go-to guy. It’s not going to happen. But 5 years from now when Slender Man is nearing his prime and the Knicks add another 2 pieces via free-agency or one of the few draft picks they’ve managed to hold onto, look out. It could be a basketball revival in the Big Apple.
Like all New York fans, I had a win-now mentality. The Knicks gave up their entire team and future to land Carmelo Anthony in order to be relevant in the Eastern Conference, and we all see how that has worked out. Jimmy Dolan’s inability to channel Kevin Bacon’s character from The Air Up There and shake & bake his way into hiring a competent GM has crippled the Knicks as a franchise since the late 90’s*. They’ve signed players past their prime and pissed away draft picks like there’s no tomorrow, leaving themselves with no picks at all in 2016, and no 2nd round picks in 2018 and 2020-2021. If you’re still a Knicks fan I advise you to black out until the 2021-2022 season when Kristaps has reached his full potential.
(*The Air Up There is a classic basketball film in which Kevin Bacon’s character Jimmy Dolan, a basketball coach with no relation to Knicks owner James Dolan, joins an African tribe in order to recruit a player for his college team. The “shake & bake” was his signature basketball move, which was referred to several times during the film. If you haven’t seen this movie you are a loser and I don’t care if you didn’t get the reference.)
From what I’ve seen in 3 NBA Summer League games, Kristaps Porzingis is a decent basketball player. His jumper is wet. He likes to use the backboard a-la Tim Duncan, and he can finish around the rim (although not spectacularly like some bullshit analysts have fabricated). Check out these moves from the Latvian rookie vs the 76ers’ Okafor:
Before you bust out your credit card and order that Porzingis swingman jersey, keep in mind that these are highlights, and don’t show Okafor bodying Porzingis for rebounds and lay-ins. There are two sides to every story. Fast-forward to the 15 second mark to see what I mean:
Porzingis’ ability to stretch the floor as a center is a huge asset that can’t be overlooked. He seems to use his length on defense to block shots, but his lack of strength prevents him from getting boards and keeping bigs off the block. The premier big men of the NBA are going to eat Rice Kristaps for breakfast down low. I genuinely fear that someone like DeAndre Jordan is going to dunk on Poorzingis (the extra o is intentional) and he’ll never recover mentally. Check out how he fared vs the Lakers in the Knicks 2nd Summer League game:
Watch the #2 overall draft pick DeAngelo Russell body the much taller Porzingis at the 0:26 mark in the video. I feel like this is going to happen a lot this season, and won’t stop until Porzingis gets stronger. It happens again vs Julius Randle 6:48 into the video. On the bright side, though, go back to the 2:47 mark to see him space the floor. Due to his silky jumper, the Lakers were forced to give him respect outside. Porzingis recognized this immediately, put the ball on the floor and banked in a runner for a pretty and-1.
With NBA Summer League averages of 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 1.33 turnovers per game and percentages of 60% from the floor (0 made 3’s) and 66.7% from the line, Porzingis projects to be a decent rookie this season. He’s not going to win Rookie of the Year, or dominate any games, but a stat line of 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks with decent percentages is entirely feasible. He’ll be OK, and people like myself can feel free to stop spewing hate towards
Stretch Armweak Kristaps Porzingis.