The New York Knicks entered the 2015 NBA draft with only one selection, but since that was pick was in the fourth spot, there was plenty of hope that Phil Jackson and company could make a big enough splash to immediately improve this roster.
However, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the Knicks’ choice as Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, fans of the storied franchise made their thoughts known. There were a chorus of boos for the Porzingis pick, and you would expect nothing less of Knicks fans. But was Porzingis really such a bad choice for the squad in its current form?
Where Porzingis Will Shine
Graphic via nbadraft
At 7’1” in stature, Porzingis brings about a ridiculous amount of challenges for the opposition on both ends of the floor. His size will obviously help the Knicks tremendously, but it’s what he does with that size that will prove his worth the most.
Porzingis is not one of those big guys that will just stand in the paint never do anything else. Sure, he can score inside, but Porzingis’ ability to also put the ball on the floor and knock down jump shots at will is what will give him a huge edge in the NBA. In the Summer League, he made several key shots that were the result of him using screens and being comfortable with taking an open jumper outside the paint.
Defensively, when you’re Porzingis’ height, you’re going to be able to change shots. That’s just a given fact. He’s going to give the Knicks a shot-block presence that they need in order to get better on defense. While last season’s debacle was due to horrible play on both sides of the floor, defense is an area that Porzingis can become a factor right away.
Finding the Weaknesses
Of course, Porzingis is not without weaknesses. He may not be the strongest player on the floor right now, and his smaller frame is going to make things difficult when he starts matching up with more powerful forwards and centers.
His rebounding skills will also take time to develop, as he may not start off being a double-double guy right away. He’s going to have to find ways to have a better instinct for finding the ball off the rim, as with that skill, it could offset the problems that he will have physically.
While it may not be considered a “weakness” overall, Porzingis probably isn’t ready to take over a game just yet. He’s going to face an adjustment period like all rookie players do, but perhaps his transition will take a bit longer due to the demands of really needing to pack on some size in order to hold his own against the big boys down low.
Looking Into the Future
Porzingis can help the Knicks. There’s no doubt about that from a pure basketball standpoint. But remember that this is the Knicks we’re talking about. Patience isn’t exactly what they’re known for.
However, if Porzingis can get stronger and deal with the pressure that come with playing in the New York market, he has a chance to be a solid part of the franchise going forward.
Graphic via usatoday