Kristaps Porzingis and the Rebuilding Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis Eyes will be trained on Ben Simmons, the Australian player taken first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2016 NBA Draft, and that’s understandable. However, as far as international players making a splash this 2016-17, few can compete with the bubbling hype surrounding Kristaps Porzingis (221 cm). The 21-year-old Latvian sensation took the NBA by storm in his rookie season in 2015-16. While he was a distant second to Karl-Anthony Towns, who unanimously won the 2016 Rookie of the Year award, Porzingis showed critics and fans alike the high ceiling he possesses as far as his potential in the NBA is concerned.

In his rookie campaign, Kristaps posted more than respectable averages of 14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg. It’s exciting to think about what he will be capable of doing for the New York Knicks this season. His improvement should be substantial and he could be in line for his first All-Star Game appearance. During his explosive 2015-16 campaign, there were more than a few comparisons drawn between the young Latvian power forward and Dirk Nowitzki, arguably the most successful and prolific international big man to set foot in the league. While Porzingis does wield a soft touch from the outside, his jumper is a far cry from the almost perennially on-target fade away that Dirk employs with devastating effect. One edge that Kristaps does have up his sleeve is his defense. Nowitzki has always been known as an offensive threat and his game virtually ushered in the heyday of the stretch four in the NBA. Porzingis has shown that he can bring the “D” on the other end of the floor, making him, potentially, the more complete all-around player down the line.

Despite all the potential, that the big man brings to the table, the Knicks are not his team. At least, not yet. Porzingis is an important piece to the Knicks puzzle, but he isn’t the centerpiece. It’s Carmelo Anthony is. As long as Melo is on the Knicks roster it will remain his team. That situation is fine if you think about it. There is no need to rush Porzingis’ development. New York is also drastically different this 2016-17, compared to his rookie season. They have added former Bulls Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah into the fold, giving their starting lineup a drastically different look. Rest assured though, even with all the talent surrounding Kristaps, his development will not be something taken for granted or overlooked by Knicks President Phil Jackson. The former coach knows the gem that he has in Porzingis and neglecting his development would be a folly of unprecedented magnitude. It will have its own pace. As Kristaps grows, so goes the chances of the franchise returning to Playoff glory.

He is entering his sophomore season and now is the time for Kristaps to soak it all in and learn from the veteran talent around him. While Karl-Anthony Towns’ numbers should continue to skyrocket this year, expect Porzingis development to be steady, but with possibly a higher apex.

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