What a tough and terrible situation Kristaps Porzingis was put in being drafted by the New York Knicks. He entered into a franchise that has been mired in misery for years. The Knicks are a franchise that is basically the laughing stock of the rest of the NBA. They were picking from their highest position in the draft in years and they elected to take the single biggest question mark coming to the NBA.
They selected the Latvian born big man Kristaps Porzingis. He is called a big man but there does not seem to be many highlights of him playing like a center or power forward. He does not really come with much of a defensive or rebounding reputation. And the last european player the Knicks selected who was not known for defense never really got much better at it. In fact he became a glorified seven foot wing player that could not really affect the game the way the Knicks had envisioned when they selected him sixth overall in the 2008 NBA draft. He was in a big way the main representation of the tenure of Mike D’antoni in New York. D’antoni knew him and thought he would work well in the system but there were better players that went after him. It was criticized and really the only thing Danilo Gallinari will be remembered for with the Knicks will be that he was the main piece in the medley of players traded for Carmelo Anthony.
Like D’antoni, Gallinari did not last too long in New York. He was and remains a symbol of failed expectations in the New York Knicks organization just like the time Mike D’antoni spent here represents. And just like how Danilo Gallinari has shaped the time D’antoni spent here, Kristaps Porzinigis will be mainly responsible for the legacy of Phil Jackson left on the Knicks.
Many scouts think Porzingis could be the best player in the draft; the key word there is “could” though. He comes with so many question marks, people are afraid he might turn into another Andrea Bargnani but fans should be more worried that he might be another Danilo Galinari.
They come into the NBA both standing about the size to play center but lacking the defensive prowess and back to the basket game to do so. Two things you do not want in a big man is a lack of defense and no post game. The only thing Porzingis will be able to do effectively as a sure thing in the league is shoot. He could possibly be a glorified wing player
Now on the other hand, his combination of height and shooting prowess do present some excitement. There is a possibility of him averaging up to sixteen or seventeen points a game depending on whom the Knicks grab in free agency. But we should not be fooled there because he is going to have to develop his offense beyond just pulling up and shooting. The defenders in the NBA are too good to let him do that all the time or even some of the time.
If he wants to score effectively it would behoove him to start working on a post game, his touch will only help him there. Also if he wants to really help the Knicks then he needs to learn to play tough defense in the paint. Otherwise his height will only be useful for shooting over people.
The pick was dire to the Knicks rebuilding phase. After the consensus top three guys were taken the Knicks were left with some trade down options, or taking a more sure prospect like Justise Winslow. The Celtics were so enamored with him that when he was still available at the ninth pick they desperately tried to trade for it so they could have him. Also Emmanuel Muddiay was still there, a player who was once considered to be the top pick in the draft. But they went with the man who they think has the biggest upside overall. Which honestly does make sense from their long term point of view, if he had drafted Muddiay or Winslow and if they did not pan out Jackson would be criticized for having made his pick to cater to an aging star. Would we not rather have him draft the player who he honestly thinks can help the Knicks the most over the long term?
Whatever Kristaps Porzingis becomes, it should serve as a true legacy for the Phil Jackson New York Knicks tenure. The pick they just made is crucial to them becoming relevant again as they do not have one next year and as a result are under even more pressure to perform better and push the pick out of the top ten, maybe past even the top fifteen. Carmelo Anthony is not getting any younger…