With the 2015 NBA Draft less than two weeks away, one of the most mysterious prospects is making a name for himself.
19-year-old Latvian player Kristaps Porzingis, considered one of the top prospects in the draft, held his first US workout in Las Vegas on Friday, and impressed a gym packed full of team officials.
At 6’11”, Porzingis has the height of a center, but is long, wiry, and nimble, almost in the mould of Kevin Durant. He can shoot three-pointers, take the ball of the dribble, and can block shots on defence. He showed a glimpse of his skills at the workout, leaving one scout raving about him:
Porzingis was VERY impressive in workout. A scout called him the best player in the draft “He’s better than Karl Towns,” said the scout.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) June 12, 2015
DraftExpress posted a video of Porzingis’ workout, where he showed off some of his versatile skills:
ESPN’s Chad Ford similarly raved about Porzingis’ skill, saying he might be the second-best prospect in the entire draft, and could give Karl-Anthony Towns a challenge for best prospect:
“In Porzingis’ case, I think there’s enough evidence of his play in Sevilla to safely say that the things I love about him (his shooting ability and his athleticism) will come through in the NBA. If Porzingis were playing at Duke or Kansas, I think he would be the toughest competition for Towns for the No. 1 overall pick. I really believe [Philadelphia 76ers GM] Sam Hinkie may pull the trigger on Porzingis at No. 3.”
In experts’ mock drafts, Porzingis has been going anywhere from third in the draft to eighth. For all of his potential, he still has his imperfections. His slight frame may be a problem in the NBA. In addition, he needs to get stronger, develop his post game, and according to DraftExpress, draw contact and react more quickly to in-game situations.
The NBA world rushes to compare seven-foot European players who can shoot to Dirk Nowitzki, but in fairly recent history, there’s a track record of such players not living up to nearly to that comparison. Andrea Bargnani came into the league as a mobile seven-footer who could spread the floor and block shots. Nearly 10 years into his career, Bargnani, the 2006 No. 1 overall pick, is known for being injury-prone, poor on defence, and has only shot above 35% from three four times in his career.
Jan Vesely, the No. 5 overall pick in 2012, was also listed as an athletic seven-footer, but is now out of the league entirely.
That’s not to say Porzingis can’t reach his potential or will end up a bust like Bargnani and Vesely, but the NBA is wary of players like Porzingis. While he’s blowing away people in open drafts, he still has to face NBA competition, where his size may become a disadvantage for now.
All of this makes Porzingis somewhat of a mystery. Some teams may be scared to use a top pick on him, and if that’s the case, one lucky team could end up with one of the most intriguing players in the draft.
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