Kristaps Porzingis has been receiving rave reviews from different people in the NBA fraternity. Porzingis, the fourth overall selection in this June’s NBA Draft out of Latvia, was not a popular pick by most New York Knicks fans after the selection was announced. After three games of summer league action, he has shown that he can be a player, and has quickly changed many of those boos into cheers already.
Keep in mind that summer league action is not the same as NBA regular season action. Last year’s MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League, Glen Rice Jr., was waived last January by the Washington Wizards after appearing in only five games with the team last season and scoring 11 total points, and did not appear in another NBA game.
While this is true, those Knicks fans who were skeptical about the Knicks selection, should at least feel a little less so after the praise that has been placed on him recently.
The ultimate praise came from an unlikely source, former Laker great and current NBA Hall of Famer, James Worthy. Worthy, who was working on the Lakers broadcast, called Porzingis “a freak of nature”, and went even further by saying he’s “a combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.”
That is the utmost respect from a legend in the game, comparing Porzingis to two former MVPs, with the former widely considered the best European player of all-time.
The Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday in summer league action, and Porzingis was often matched up with the third overall selection in last June’s draft, Jahlil Okafor. Porzingis was able to block Okafor’s shot on three different occasions, including a timely block late in overtime to help secure the victory.
Okafor was asked about Porzingis after the game and said, “He’s really good. He’s a top-five pick for a reason. He’s a helluva player. Looks like he could do everything and he has the respect of his teammates.”
Being able to do everything with a height around 7-3, and having the respect of your teammates at 19 years old is no easy task, but Porzingis is finding ways to do both.
Knicks head coach, Derek Fisher, will be the man in charge of what Porzingis’ role on the team will be in the regular season. So far, Fisher has done nothing but heap praise on the 19 year old rookie, saying that “he’s aggressive and plays a strong game” and that “he’s not afraid to go in there and mix it up.”
Aggressive may not be what is expected of Porzingis when you look at his slender frame. Europeans also often have the stigma attached to them of being “soft” when entering the league. Porzingis has 18 free throw attempts and six blocks through three summer league games, numbers that seem to back up Fisher’s words.
It’s fairly obvious hearing from others that Porzingis has the potential to being a centerpiece for the Knicks for years to come. Knicks fans would love to see the same praise being placed on Porzingis after watching him in regular season games, rather than just the summer league.