Kristaps Porzingis Keeping The Magic In New York
“Kristaps Porzingis keeping the magic in New York”
The NBA Draft Night 2015 was an extremely eventful night to say the least, especially for the New York Knicks. It was a night, overwhelmed with controversy, and through it all, Phil Jackson and the Knicks Gongfu Tea Cup have pulled off their biggest piece of magic to date.
Initially, the night was filled with anticipation after the Knicks cleared house and were ready to well and truly start their rebuilding campaign along with Carmelo Anthony, who they finally secured long term after a dragged out period of speculation that the talented scorer could be on his way out. What transpired on Draft Night no one from New York, or the NBA for that matter expected to happen, the Knicks drafted international, unknown, unproven, Latvian prospect, Kristaps Prozingis. It didn’t help that Draft Night was held in Brooklyn, as there was many Knicks fans that made their way down, expecting to greet the draftee with cheers and singing, instead, the opposite occurred. A chorus of boos and abuse filled the room as the Knicks fans saw their future fade away right in front of them. They could not believe what had just happened, was this real life? Was this a joke? Was this really happening?
The utter disgust of the Knicks faithful was plain and clear. So much so, that popular and respected basketball analyst and “expert” Stephen A Smith were very quick to express their adamant and aggressive disregard for the draft choice without giving the Rookie a fair go, or even a chance to prove his worth on national television. Knicks fans were actually more excited and thrilled with the offloading of Tim Hardaway Junior and obtaining the services of Jerian Grant than the supposedly European superstar teenager. Kristaps was under fire before he has even picked up and NBA basketball, before he had even stepped foot on the NBA Hardwood.
Knicks fans began to think the worst had occurred, that they’ve just wasted the first genuine chance they’ve had to rebuild in years. As the boos sang out, not softly I might add, a lonely Latvian took to the stage, surprisingly unfazed by it all. This was perhaps more astounding than the initial reaction from the fans, that Porzingis seemed quite calm and poised. He stated that that he was looking forward to the challenge and wanted to do the Knicks jersey, fans and organisation proud. This should have been the first indication that we could be dealing with a different kind of prospect here. The 7 footer was quietly confident and would go forth to let his play and performances do all the talking and convincing.
Expectation was massively high for his fellow Draft Class member in a big market, D’Angelo Russell, but it’s been quite evident that the new Laker boy will need lots of time before he’s lighting up the NBA. On the contrary, there was little to no expectation in comparison for Kristaps as Knicks fans were somehow convinced he was going to amount to nothing, and even if he did, he would multiple years to start producing at a high level that would meet their demands.
I believe the biggest disappointment Knicks fans were undergoing was accepting the fact that they weren’t going to be competitive a long time and the good times were still multiple years away. Carmelo would still be their lone superstar, with no help, wasting more talented years of his career resulting in losing seasons.
HOW WRONG THEY WERE!!!
In life, it’s sometimes hard to admit you’re wrong, but popular Knicks members of the media and especially Knicks fans were as wrong as you can get.
It’s always a somewhat risk drafting an international born or international based players as we see considerably less performances from them and the information on them is sometimes limited. Especially in Porzingis’ case, he was never in an American set up or even stepped foot in the US before being drafted. How he would respond to the lifestyle, culture and the big New York basketball scene was definitely unknown and drafting him overall came with a massive question mark.
A lot of credit must be given to the Knicks drafting department and also Phil Jackson. They tracked Porzingis for a prolonged period, saw what he could do on the court, seeing his potential greatness and most importantly, drafting him and putting him in a position to succeed.
They tracked his progress overseas and sent scouts to watch him play, taking and recording as much information as they could in the process. Phil put on a brave face on Draft Night amidst all the boos and criticism, but he knew the Knicks got their man. He knew this kid could be special with time, but I don’t think even Phil himself thought he would flourish this much, so early into his NBA career.
During Summer League and the NBA preseason, there were signs that he could be something, but it was nothing to get you off your couch or think he was going to be special in any way. However, this was all an adjusting period, getting comfortable with the new system, his new teammates and coaching staff, so he could shine when the lights are shining the brightest and all eyes are really watching – during the NBA regular season.
New York Knick fans were quickly singing a different tune.
Negativity and glum rapidly transformed into excitement and optimism for the season as Kristaps started to take the league by storm. His highlight put back dunks, his consuming of oppositions shots and putting in overall brilliant displays on both ends had the league on notice.
After this brilliant and promising start from the teenager, the Knicks have started to feel comfortable, stringing together some nice wins and uplifting performances. The best part? It’s just the beginning as he will continue to improve by playing game after game and thrive under the mentorship of Carmelo Anthony, Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson. He will continue to advance his game and help win games for the Knicks moving forward. Carmelo Anthony may be back to the Playoffs sooner than he expected, as Porzingis has the potential to develop into a real force on both ends of the floor and already showing signs of this.
He can spread the floor, shoot the 3 with ease, has a solid basketball IQ, is great on the boards and blocks shots for fun. Everything you would want in a big man Rookie. He is excelling when most thought this was improbable or even perhaps even impossible. He is proving the doubters wrong, not by talking about it, but by showing that he belongs in the NBA, and not just belonging, but showing he could dominate this league one day.
Their primes may not sync or coincide, but Carmelo Anthony may well have found his partner in crime, the player he can lean on to allow him to be the offensive superstar always has been.
The Knicks may be geniuses.
Phil Jackson has pulled his magic yet again.
Kristaps Porzingis is special, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.