12 Dec The Kristaps Porzingis Phenomenon
It’s hard to forget how Knicks’ fans booed and even cried when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the team selected Kristaps Porzingis as the 4th overall pick in the 2015 draft:
It’s crazy how five months can make a difference:
I won’t be surprised if they are among those who chanted his name when KP scored 29 points against the Hornets last November 17. It won’t even be surprising if they are among those who now own Porzingis’ #6 jersey because that piece of clothing is the 6th most popular in the NBA store and Fanatics right now, with only those of Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant are doing better. In fact, the Porzingis jerseys sold out at one point this season:
NBA says Porzingis jerseys have sold out, new stock will be in tomorrow.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 19, 2015
That’s ridiculously incredible. But so are these highlights:
That clip was just the tip of this 7-3 iceberg and just three of the many highlight reel putbacks that have made Kristaps Porzingis one of the more popular players in the NBA right now. But he isn’t just popular and he isn’t just throwing down putback dunks. He’s playing like nobody ever expected and making the NBA transition smoother than how everyone anticipated.
By The Numbers
Among NBA rookies, Kristaps Porzingis has the 3rd highest PER (according to ESPN) at 19.72. He is 3rd among rookies in scoring (14.1 PPG), 2nd in rebounds (8.6 RPG), 2nd in blocks (1.88 BPG) and tied with #1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns for first place in double-doubles with 10. With impressive numbers, Porzingis was named November Rookie of the Month in the Eastern Conference while Towns walked away with the same award in the West. If you take a look at their current averages, Porzingis and Towns appear headed to a neck to neck battle for Rookie of The Year honors.
The Knicks are 10-14 on the season and are 12th in the East and 22nd in the entire league. But remember that they were only 17-65 last season and were 4-20 at this stage last season with the 2014-15 Knicks winning their 10th game on February 1, 2015. The Knicks may miss the post-season bus again, but they know now they didn’t pick a bust in the draft.
Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol were the first lottery picks from Europe. These two would eventually blossom into NBA All-Stars and help their teams win NBA titles. But after them, Yao Ming has been the only other international lottery pick to make an All-Star Team with the next 19, including 16 European lottery picks, having just mediocre NBA careers. Remember Darko Milicic who was picked ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade? Andrea Bargnani over LaMarcus Aldridge? Jan Vessely who was drafted earlier than Kawhi Leonard?
Kristaps Porzingis is out to end that Euro drought and he’s on the right track so far. Porzingis scored 28 points on 13-18 shooting in his first game against Nowitzki last December 7. The Knicks lost 104-97 but Nowitzki gave Porzingis the ultimate compliment:
“He’s way better than I was at 20.”
If Dirk is correct, imagine what Porzingis would be at age 25 if he continues to develop his game. One thing is sure today though: He isn’t a bust. He is a phenomenon in New York.
Kristaps Porzingis Phenomenon
Since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony, the biggest phenomenon to hit New York was Linsanity. But just when we thought that such an occurrence was once in a lifetime, we were wrong. “Porzingod”, “Godzingis” or whatever you want to call this, has taken New York by storm. And unlike Linsanity, this one looks like its staying at Madison Square Garden for good.
Recalling draft day at Barclays Center when Knicks Fans rejected this potential messiah is horrible because look how far Porzingis has gone since he arrived in New York. What a difference six months has made for Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks’ fans.
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