With Kristaps Porzingis playing at an all-time high, the New York Knicks can feel good about the future.
There’s a reason why the excitement and buzz in New York City are loud again. Knicks fans from all five boroughs are flipping through the Daily News and New York Post trying to catch a glimpse of this 7’3″ “unicorn turned beast” that’s been averaging close to 30 points and nine rebounds per game named Kristaps Porzingis. The “unicorn turned beast” phrase coined by Bleacher Report is in fact merited due to the hard work and dedication Porzingis has put in throughout the summer.
The bulkier Porzingis (now weighing 240 lb.) went home to Latvia over the summer to play with his national team. The grueling hours of lifting and putting up jump shots have clearly paid off just seven games into this 2017-2018 NBA season. After the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the key to the franchise and the city has been placed in Porzingis’s hands and it looks like the 7’3″ beast won’t let it slip anytime soon.
Experts and critics knocked Porzingis for his frail frame, saying that it might have been a detriment to him throughout a long and demanding 82-game NBA season. However, the size he’s been able to put on throughout this past summer has paid dividends. The Knicks hybrid big man has been dazzling, putting on a display of inside low post moves and deep long-range 3-pointers that time and time again remind us of Dirk Nowitzki in his prime. The scarier thing is that Porzingis already has the potential to have a better low post game due to his size and his dribbling ability, enabling him to surprisingly blow past defenders.
At 3-4 (currently 11th in the Eastern Conference) the new look, energetic, ball moving, young New York Knicks have the Garden faithful optimistic. They are oozing with excitement for the potential that this franchise has with the growth of 2017 lottery pick Frank Ntilikina and Porzingis. Now that Anthony is out the way, Porzingis slides in as the man in charge to lead the franchise back to prominence. The 22-year-old has transformed into one of the games best big men.
Seven games into the season Porzingis has been lights out, averaging 27.9 points per game in 33 minutes, shooting just below 47 percent from the field, 34 percent from 3-point range, and 7.9 rebounds per game. The efficiency above all is astonishing for the second-year star. Some may say those numbers are an indication of the lack of scoring options on the roster but it’s safe to say it’s due to the dedication Porzingis has put in to become one of the NBA’s elite.
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Yes, it’s early but this is just the beginning and if the work continues to transpire onto the court, this may become a positive indication of more to come. Porzingis acknowledged the positivity that the increase of size has had on his game. “I think my strength is helping my game a lot, just having my balance on all those shots, even though a lot of these shots are contested,” Porzingis told reporters Monday night. “I’m just more comfortable in the post … with guards trying to get at my legs.”
Big men like Porzingis and Nowitzki are near impossible to guard with their ability to shoot from all parts of the floor with excellent efficiency. The key for Porzingis was to put on the size and keep the flexibility so that smaller defenders wouldn’t have a chance to keep up with him. Now that the Knicks have Porzingis as the clear-cut leader of the team, the front office can make the moves necessary to put the franchise back in contention.
If Porzingis keeps playing like this, he may just make it easier for a top free agent in this offseason’s class to sign with New York. After all, who wouldn’t play with rather than guard that beast?