New York Knicks: Success means keeping Kristaps Porzingis on the court


Three, five, four, five, and five. Those would be considered good numbers if they were blocked shots or steals. Fouls? Not so much.

There is no denying that New York Knicks rookie, Kristaps Porzingis, has been a pleasant surprise. A revelation, if you will. Through five games, Porzingis is averaging 12 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.8 steals, and is hitting on 83% of his free throws. With numbers like that, folks will begin wondering whether he will be the next Dirk Nowitzki as opposed to the next Shawn Bradley.

However, all is not rainbows and ice cream in Knickerbocker land. While Porzingis is already exceeding everyone’s expectations, I find it difficult not to think about how much better he’d be if he were able to stay on the court for more than 23.2 minutes per game. In those 23.2 minutes per game, Porzingis is averaging a discouraging 4.4 fouls per game. That averages out to about a foul every 5.27 minutes.

Take last night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, for instance. After having sat out for a large amount of the second half, Porzingis would come into the game in the fourth quarter and would quickly pick up his fifth foul. How? It wasn’t scrapping for a loose ball. It wasn’t to stop an uncontested layup. It wasn’t even in the process of trying to take a charge. He picked it up by recklessly going over the back of Timofey Mozgov while trying to contend for a rebound he had no realistic chance of getting.

In the regular season, there is no real consequence (at least not early on) other than losing a game and living to fight another day. Should the Knicks be fortunate enough to make the playoffs, and for all intents and purposes, they have a shot, such careless mistakes can cost you a series.

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To his credit, Porzingis, who less we forget is only 20-years-old, understands that such mistakes can hurt his team.

“I just got to be smarter,’’ said Porzingis to the New York Post. “Not commit some stupid fouls that don’t matter that much. It’s disappointing for me knowing the team needed me on the floor. I got to be available in those moments.’’

Things aren’t all bad for Porzingis, though. For the second time in as many games, Porzingis added to his highlight-reel. This time, he soared over Kevin Love for a putback dunk.

Speaking of Love, he was held to 4-13 from the field, while being predominantly guarded by Porzingis. If Porzingis is able to develop a defensive prowess while staying out of foul trouble, that would be a bonus for the Knicks.

But remember, it is only his fifth game. Even Carmelo Anthony expects this to be a learning process.

“I just think it’s just experience, knowing what you can and can’t do,” said Anthony to the New York Daily News. “But K.P., he’ll get that. He’ll learn with more experience. This is just his fifth game at this level. He’ll learn.”

In terms of learning curves, Porzingis’s is not as steep as initially thought. And for the Knicks, that can only be a good thing.