The New York Knicks are Kristaps Porzingis' team now
Nov 16, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) dribbles the ball in front of Detroit Pistons forward Jon Leuer (30) during second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Making numerous improvements in his game, Kristaps Porzingis has taken over as the new face of the New York Knicks. 

While it has perhaps happened quicker than many Knicks’ fans anticipated, one thing has been made abundantly clear over the past few games: this is Kristaps Porzingis’ team.

Sure, Carmelo Anthony is still the emotional leader in the locker room and has the best career resume. Sure, the team is loaded with veterans like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee. Sure, Porzingis is only 21 years old.

However, there is no denying that at this moment in time, when the Knicks are on the floor, Kristaps is undeniably their main focus.

Porzingis has now taken at least 15 shots in each of the Knicks’ last five games, and it’s no surprise the offense has massively improved as a result. New York has gone 3-2 during that five game stretch, failing to score 100 points in only their loss to the Celtics and their dominant, 16-point victory over the Mavericks.

Thus, the Knicks vaulted up the standings after starting the season a putrid 2-4.

After using KP in just 20.6 percent of possessions in October, a four percent drop from his usage rate as a rookie, Porzingis is now up to a 26 percent usage rate in November, as he has become the focal point of the offense. Considering the matchup nightmare he creates for opposing defenders, it’s shocking that it took the Knicks this long to run their offense through him.

Nowhere was this more evident than Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, where Porzingis had a career high 35 points. KP was absolutely dominant against, using his full complement of skills to eviscerate the Pistons’ bigs on the offensive end.

Very few players at Porzingis’ size have the ability to catch and shoot, dribble drive, and post up with the prowess that he does, which made him very difficult to guard, even for an elite big man like Andre Drummond.

At 14.8 field goal attempts per game, Porzingis is now the second leading shooter on the Knicks behind Melo. The good news is that he’s also the team’s most efficient shooter. The 21-year-old has put together an astonishing 61.2 percent true shooting percentage this season, ranking second behind all sophomores in the NBA (min. 20 minutes per game).

This is nearly a 10 percent jump over Porzingis’ true shooting number of 51.8 percent last season, with an increase in his volume of shots. As a result, he is scoring over six points more per game than he did as a rookie.

The improvement is coming from the fact that Porzingis has virtually eliminated the long two from his shot chart. Last year, he took 141 shots between 16 feet and the three point line, nearly as many shots as he took between 10 and 15 feet. This season, he has continued to shoot the 10 to 15 footer at the same clip — between two and three shots per game — but has taken just eight total shots between 16 feet and the three point line.

Analytics experts have discovered in recent years that the long two is one of basketball’s least valuable shots, so Knicks’ fans should be encouraged that Porzingis is taking so few of them. Shot selection can often be an underrated among NBA players, but it remains one of the main drivers of team success.

Thankfully, it appears to be yet another skill Porzingis is developing.

Kristaps has very clearly put a ton of work into his offensive game this season, emerging as a far better player than he was as a rookie. His shot selection, mechanics, and execution are all much improved, and New York is reaping the benefits. It’s clear the offseason work is paying off for Porzingis, as he continues to emerge as a star in the NBA.

Billy Nayden is an SMU Mustang from Connecticut born and raised on New York sports. Avid fan of nearly every sport from MMA to handball. His heart is in NYC, but Billy has seen games on multiple continents, and has frequented arenas ranging from high school gyms to world class meccas.


  1. Stop that Bullshit Billy Nayden.. shit like this is main reason why you writing for back alley news right now.. KP ain’t ready to be the star of the team. Calm your impatient Ass down.. Garbage report….. KP has too many weakness to be the main man.

    • Well, let’s get into it. What weaknesses are you referring to exactly? Melo takes more shot and only averages two more points a game. The FG and 3-pt percentages don’t compare whatsoever.

      KP can actually put the ball on the floor, just like Melo. His post game is far superior than Melo’s. In Iso situations Melo is still the guy 95 percent of time. It needs to become more of a mix.

      What weaknesses for KP are you referring to?

      • He can’t take Bigger 4 of the dribble, He can’t stay out of foul trouble negating Minutes due to poor lateral movement and over reaching, He can’t post up Bigger opponents, Defensive on ball he isn’t that good, Robin Lopez hid a lot of defensively deficiencies he have, He isn’t that good of a passer out the post, He gets bumped off his square too easy especially against smaller players fighting for or establishing position, At 7 foot plus he should be leading the team in boards.. Other than Blocks and shooting percentages.. Melo is above him ATM.. The problem with Knicks fan and media is you guys eat your own.. You see Porzingis putting up numbers and think it’s a byproduct of his skill… Not even. The attention Melo garners coupled with good guard play and a effective triangle system hides his weaknesses.. He is scoring off catch and shoots, Open three and exploiting mismatches for quick turn and shoots. He is eating right now being a finisher.. His post game is no where near Better or superior to Melo.. that’s foolishness… He can shoot over most defenders and that’s his edge.. He isn’t ready to be the man.. He is Melo Trusty sidekick until otherwise. Don’t believe the hype.. In 2 to 3 years He WILL BE THE MAN.

        • FINALLY. You actually came with some knowledge. Respect.

          The foul trouble issue is one of great concern. The “taking the 4-man off the dribble,” IDK.

          Truth be told, I think it’s solid where it’s at right now. Where I took exception to your comments came on the other site when you started blaming the NY media and comparing KP to Jeremy Lin’s situation.

          KP gets lost defensively. He’s still much better weakside and/or away from the ball on that end. But, again, Melo is pretty damn terrible defensively.

          These two — and Melo has done a TREMENDOUS job with it — need to keep sharing the spotlight as the top option. KP is the top option for most of the game after Hornacek starts breaking them up late in the first quarter.

          • It’s cool.. I’m passionate.. pardon the typos. I’m sneak typing on the job. I can see how my post may rub some the wrong way.. KP is good right where he at.. He is learning trial by fire… He Has earned Melo trust… Most of these slight deficiencies WILL be corrected in 15 more Lbs, A tremendous off season work out regimen that should include Squats (Post strength Allow stronger planting in the legs), Beach Running/Uphill Running (Enhance his first step and acceleration), Tire runs (Enhance his lateral movement to change directions), Resistance (Strength) and Swimming pools (Maximize use of All dormant muscles)… Athletic 4s and Stronger ones Like Green, Myles Turner, Randle, Booker, Love Have the physical tools to knock him off his square and effective slow him down off the bump.. He learned a crossover which is a great weapon.. but at 7 feet it has too many moving parts… He needs to compact it to maximize his first step after the move.. by dragging it out he has to recover a bit slower And settle for the pull up… Against the 5 He is outmuscled. But he is faster than most 5 and gives the Knicks the advantage to stretch the floor back out.. He will be the man when Melo decline is in full mode… Let’s no create any more pressure for him.. We let too many rookies go with letting them develop because of the New York Minute.. We won’t be good until we let a starting 5 remain the same for atleast 3 years.