After a hot start, the hype around Kristaps Porzingis slowed down during his rookie season.
The New York Knicks began to struggle, and the 7-foot-3 Latvian big man clearly looked like the second best rookie big man in the NBA, behind eventual rookie of the year winner Karl-Anthony Towns.
Since the end of the Knicks’ season in April, it looks like Porzingis has been hellbent on improving his game, adding even more offensive versatility to his already diverse repertoire.
Recently, courtesy of ESPN’s Ian Begley, we’ve gotten a look at Porzingis’ offseason work, and the NBA should be scared. Porzingis is already the perfect mould for the future center of the NBA: long, athletic, with the ability to guard the rim and shoot three-pointers. But 7-foot-3 players are not supposed to have this type of handle and jump shot off the dribble. Heck, there are players half-a-foot shorter than Porzingis who can’t move like this.
Granted, this isn’t staunch, NBA-level defence, but it’s not Porzingis’ ability to make the shot that’s impressive, so much as it is his ability to even learn these moves at his size. In short: wow.
If some of these moves look familiar, it may not be a coincidence. Begley notes that Porzingis has been working with Knicks assistant Josh Longstaff. Longstaff was previously an assistant for the Oklahoma City Thunder, meaning he worked with another tall, talented NBA player: Kevin Durant.
It’s impossible to project that kind of ceiling onto Porzingis; Durant is one of the top-three best players in the entire NBA.
But if Porzingis can develop even half of Durant’s skills as a scorer, combined with his length and defensive instincts, the Knicks may have an entirely different monster on their hands.
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