Kristaps Porzingis Looks to Have Made the Leap
Through ten games this season, Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 30 points per game. Only Giannis Antetokounmpo and his 31.9 points per game is higher. Heading into this new season, we all expected Porzingis to improve on the scoring end. But to improve to this extent was hard to see. At times in this early season, Porzingis has seemed impossible to guard. How did this happen so quickly? Can it be sustained? And where is the ceiling now? It’s like Kevin Garnett once said: anything is possible!
Porzingis has scored over 30 points in seven of the opening ten games for the Knicks and has unleashed an array of moves on the scoring front. Before we get into his scoring prowess, it is important to understand how we got here. Back when the Knicks drafted him in 2015, they were impressed by his work ethic. That work ethic has carried through his time on the Knicks thus far. Heading into this season, Porzingis himself said he wanted to lead the team through his work ethic. Say what you want about the Knicks and their futility, but they seemed to have nailed this one. A young, hard-working player is just what this franchise needed. You know, some of that New York mentality. Some New York grit.
Early results are in and it is hard to not be impressed by leaps the third year pro has made on the court this season. He is shooting better from both the field and behind the three point line. But it is not just the numbers, it is how he is achieving those numbers. His repertoire of moves is tough to defend one-on-one.
If the defender gives him too much room, Porzingis will just pop a jumper. He has been deadly at mid-range, shooting nearly 57% on shots between eight and 16 feet. Whether he backs you down and banks one off the glass, shoots a fade-away, or simply just shoots over you due to his size, the jump shooting by Porzingis has been a joy to watch.
And if the defender gets too close, Porzingis has developed the ability to beat him off the dribble and get to the rim. He has even shown the ability to finish with both hands. Scary stuff. His size at 7-foot-3 makes him a very difficult match-up for any defender and he is making teams pay in the early going.
And then you have to ask yourself: can this be sustained? Well, let me share this quote from Sports Illustrated by Porzingis on the night he was drafted:
"First of all, I think a lot of guys are worried that Europeans might not have the heart and the passion about the game—but that’s the first thing that I have. I love the game, I’m a student of the game, it’s important if you want to have a long, successful career in the NBA. As far as my skills, I’m a really tall guy who can shoot, who can stretch the floor, who can drive, who has a face-up post game. I would say my shot is one of my best skills.”
It is easy to talk about how you have heart. How you have a passion for the game. How good your shooting is. And how great of a work ethic you posses. But it is another to translate those words into success on the court and Porzingis has put his money where his mouth is. The sky is the limit for him right now. He has all the potential in the world to become an elite player and by the looks of it he might be there sooner than we all think.