New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis’ surprisingly strong rookie campaign has exploited the flaws of Knicks fans — many of whom booed and scorned the pick.

By Justin Weiss

For some, the New York Knicks’ selection of Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was the worst move of the century and the ultimate demise of Phil Jackson.

Porzingis, who is now nicknamed Porzingod and Godzingis by many, was mercilessly booed on draft night as fans threw temper tantrums and even went so far as to cry over the pick.

The reaction to the Porzingis selection exploits a blatant flaw in the fan approach to the NBA Draft.

Fans of the game — supporters of the Knicks and all 29 other teams in the league included — need to think for a couple of moments before judging a draft prospect.

Scouting reports that provide both the strengths and weaknesses of a player need to be analyzed subjectively rather than objectively. Fans have to understand that there’s a possibility that not every strength translates into the NBA, and that not every weakness is insurmountable.

Take Porzingis as an example. The 7’3″ English speaking Latvian power forward was given the following pre-draft scouting report from DraftExpress:

“Porzingis is one of the most unique players in this draft class, showing an impressive combination of height, length, fluidity and skills. He’s very mobile for his size, capable of playing above the rim with ease and able to cover ground quickly moving from the perimeter to the paint.

On the downside, Porzingis still looks a long ways away from reaching his full potential here, starting with his body, which remains very frail and could make him susceptible to injuries if not developed carefully. He also lacks something in the ways of toughness and awareness, as he tends to avoid contact in the paint and regularly gets pushed around on the interior, not always offering up as much resistance as you might hope. The game moves a little too fast for him at times, and he doesn’t appear to be the quickest thinker around, often looking a half-step slow in his reaction time. All of these things show up in his surprisingly pedestrian rebounding numbers (2.4 offensive and 5.8 defensive per-40).”

Let’s just establish that the drawbacks seemed to compose of the majority of the scouting report. However, from witnessing Porzingis’ sheer awesomeness, which has entailed a 29-point, 11-rebound breakout game against the Charlotte Hornets, an incredible 24-point, 14-rebound, seven-block performance against the Houston Rockets, and a plethora of highlight-reel dunks, it’s difficult to see how his frail body, lack of toughness and awareness, and failure to identify the pace of the game has plagued the 20-year-old rookie.

Knicks fans, it’s time to rethink your approach to the draft. Prospects like Porzingis just don’t deserve your wrath — at least not before they ever step foot on an NBA court.

“I mean a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me, but I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans,” Porzingis said before the season.

“There’s nothing I can do. I was happy about it. I want to be a part of this organization, and I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes but that’s how it is here in New York and I’m ready for it.”

Hopefully thanks to Kristaps, Knicks fans are ready to change their approach to the Draft.

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Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.