New York Knicks

Only nine games into his career, people are already raving about New York Knicks Latvian rookie sensation known as Kristaps Porzingis.

By David Hong

New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis was drafted as the No. 4 pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. His selection was met with a chorus of boos from the Knicks faithful at the Barclays Center.

Interestingly enough though, during the early part of the 2015-16 NBA season, Porzingis may have made some of those fans regret their boos.

He has probably been the most exciting Knick to watch and has already shown a lot of what he can do as a player.

Through the first nine games this year, Porzingis is averaging 11.8 pts, 8.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per contest. Those may not be eye popping numbers, but Porzingis has contributed beyond the stat sheet.

Porzingis has made some highlight reels, making putback one handed dunks on several occasions – with a couple coming at the Garden, exciting the fans. It’s safe to say he’s shown some of his athleticism.

Porzingis has also shown that he can move well without the ball and is pretty quick and agile for a 7’+ big. He’s shown that he can drive to the lane for running layups as well. He’s had some good post ups games.  Porzingis has also had some big rebounding games, getting double digit in rebounds in four of the first nine games so far, including a career high 15 rebounds in his last game vs the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. He has also proven on the defensive side that he can be a decent shot blocker with his height and wingspan. Sometimes he doesn’t even need to jump to block shots. Porzingis’s biggest strength in his game when he was drafted, is that he is a terrific outside shooter. He hasn’t been overly consistent in this regard yet, but he’s hit his share of perimeter shots and three pointers. He nearly hit the game winning three pointer at the buzzer in Wednesday’s game but the referees waived it off after looking at the replay and seeing Porzingis shot it just after the buzzer.

Nevertheless, it was still impressive how he nearly released the shot with 0.6 seconds left. Even though it was waived off, Porzingis showed that he’s not afraid to launch one in crunch time and it probably wouldn’t be too long before he officially hits a clutch shot.

Finally, Porzingis has shown how much heart and hustle he has on the court. He is scrappy and plays hard. His hustle in diving for that loose ball with Kobe Bryant on Sunday is a testament to that.

So with these attributes, Porzingis has won the hearts of most of the Knicks fans early in the season and brings the franchise hope for the future.

Still, going too crazy too early on has it’s negatives. There are things that Porzingis has to still improve.

He needs to stay out of foul trouble. He had one game when he had five fouls and another game when he had four fouls. Porzingis’s minutes had been limited because of that. He has to learn to not commit silly fouls especially early in the game when foul trouble put him in the bench early. The Knicks definitely need him for more minutes than what he showed and if he can avoid careless fouls, he will not only play more minutes but be more effective as a player too.

Knicks fans should be excited for the future – it’s that simple.

His shooting hasn’t been consistent yet, so he needs to be more efficient on that. Also, he could still use more weight to his 233 pound frame in order to last longer in the physical world in the NBA.

So not everything has been perfect in Porzingis land, but the positives have far outweighed the negatives and with him being only 20-years old, there’s a lot of time for him to improve and reach his potential.

How good can Porzingis be? Based on what we saw from him, he can really develop into a true superstar. He is big and talented and he can do things most big guys can’t do so the ceiling is the limit.

Unlike past years, the Knicks have to be patient with him and keep developing him year after year because he can be something special in the NBA and in New York. Sure he has his limitations, but as he gains experience he will learn to stay out of trouble and if he can keep staying in shape and get stronger, that along with his skill-set, a star will be born.

You’re looking at a 7’+ player who can shoot from the outside, run, drive to the lane, post up, block shots, and rebound. That’s the complete package, especially for a power forward/center. Then you add the hustle and the fact that he is tougher than what most people view him as and that he seems to embrace the New York spotlight and attention.

Knicks fans should be excited for the future – it’s that simple.

There’s been many comparisons to Dirk Novitzki. It’s still too early to tell. Porzingis may not end up being as great a shooter as Nowitzki has been. But Porzingis can be a better rebounder and shot blocker. I’m not saying he will be better than Dirk because Dirk has been one of the best players over the last 15 years and one of the best shooters. But Porzingis just has to be himself and be what he can be best.

The detractors compared Porzingis to Shawn Bradley. How silly was this?

So far, the Latvian has already impressed more than Bradley ever did in the NBA. Porzingis is a better shooter, runs and drives to the lane better and has more toughness than Bradley ever did. The fact that Kristaps was able to come back after getting hurt while banging into Carmelo Anthony on Monday, shows that.

Kobe Bryant seemed impressed by Porzingis on Sunday’s game and afterwards he told Porzingis: “Keep working young fellow, you have a bright future ahead of you.”

So I hope the Knicks will keep developing Porzingis because he will grow into a stud. Especially when Melo gets older and is not the scorer that he once was, Porzingis could enter his prime and it will be the perfect time for Kristaps to take over as the main guy for the Knicks.

Porzingis could be the Knicks next 7-foot big man star since Patrick Ewing.

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Other than God, sports are my biggest love. My teams are the Mets, Knicks, NY Giants, NY Rangers and St Johns basketball (St. John's alumni). I especially love the Mets like crazy, more than any other team and seeing them win the World Series would be a dream come true and definitely the best sports moment. The Knicks are a close second. I also like to write, so combine that with my passion for sports equals a perfect scenario, I would love to do sports writing long term. If not that, then probably sports broadcasting, cause I love to talk sports as well. In addition to writing for ESNY, I'm also currently writing for Metsmerizedonline.