To say the rookie’s play in this year’s young season has been a pleasant surprise for Knicks fans would be something of an understatement. The New York hype machine is working overtime for the young power forward, who was taken with the fourth pick in this year’s draft and won’t turn 21 until after the season. Of course, the 7’3” Porzingis is exciting—so exciting that a compilation of his putback dunks was made eight days after the season started.
But he’s also definitely raw. He’s shooting less than 41 percent from the field and only 26 percent from deep—that would be a fine number the last time the Garden was bumping like this, but times have changed and power forwards need to stretch the floor. Right now, the player Porzingis most resembles is the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetekoumpo, another freakishly athletic, freakishly lanky prospect, who’s coming into his own in his third year. Like Porzingis, Antetekoumpo showed flashes of brilliance throughout his first two seasons, in between bouts of looking very, very lost on the court.
Last night, Porzingis dropped 29 points and 11 rebounds on the Charlotte Hornets. There were stretches where he seemed to be beating the Hornets single-handedly. As Kristaps said last night, “Everyone was saying I was a project … but I’m ready to play right now.”