The NBA world gave the New York Knicks mixed reviews for picking Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 pick in the draft.
While some people believe Porzingis is worth the risk for the Knicks, others have criticised them for taking a player who’s a project with their highest draft pick in decades.
Porzingis is something of an unknown to many because so few people have actually seen him play.
There are some who believe Porzingis might have the highest ceiling in the draft. At over seven feet, he can shoot three-pointers, take the ball off the dribble, shoot on the move, and his long, athletic frame could make him a great defender.
In a profile of Porzingis’ time playing in Sevilla from the New York Times’ Harvey Araton, former teammates and coaches who’ve been around Porzngis rave about his potential.
Derrick Byars, a teammate of Porzingis’ last season in Spain who has also played in the NBA D-League, Germany, Greece, France, and Belgium, told Araton:
“I don’t want to go on the record predicting the Hall of Fame, but he’s as seasoned and mature as any 19-year-old in Europe I’ve been around. He’s thin, but it’s a strong thin frame… Kris has endless potential given the right situation, the right opportunity.”
Dane Watts, a 6’8″ forward who also played in Sevilla with Porzingis, described Porzingis’ tantalising length.
“I’ve been in Europe a long time and never had my shot blocked that many times in practice. I mean, he’s got that length,” he said.
Watts also told Araton about one particular game where Porzingis dominated both ends of the floor and later noted the “sky is the limit” for him.
Additionally, Scott Roth, a former NBA assistant coach who worked with Porzingis while in Spain, added:
“Kris is a tough kid with passion, a worker, and he’s not going to back down from anyone. He’s going to get knocked around a bit the first couple of years, but by the time he’s 23, you could have a monster on your hands.”
Porzingis does have his work cut out for him. Though he’s got raw, natural talent, he needs to bulk up to play with other seven-footers in the NBA. He may be able to produce right away on offence, given that he can stretch the floor and is likely quicker than most players at his size. On defence, he is likely to struggle where he’ll get out-muscled by opponents and may have a hard time keeping up with NBA offenses.
It may take a few years, but people are going to be anxiously watching Porzingis, looking for this monster potential.
The NBA’s Summer League kicks off in Las Vegas in less than a week, and the NBA world will finally get a chance to see Porzingis in action.
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