Shawn Bradley wasn’t as bad as Twitter seems to remember him, even if he ended up on the wrong end of a lot of dunks. The 7’6″ center with a stick-figure build had six NBA triple-doubles — not with assists but with blocks — and was double-digit a game scorer with a PER above the league average at his peak. He lasted a dozen seasons in the league.
Still he is widely seen as a bust (it doesn’t help that Penny Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn were taken right after Bradley). He was so thin he simply could be muscled around by guys with lower centers of gravity.
Could the same thing happen to Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis?
Phil Jackson backs his man but expressed this concern at the possibility when speaking to Charlie Rosen at ESPN.
Jackson projects that Porzingis will add at least 10 pounds of muscle before his first season commences, yet concerns still linger over his prize draft pick. “Like Shawn Bradley, who was nevertheless a pretty good player, KP might almost be too tall for the game. What I mean is that his core strength might never be good enough, and that he might not be able to get low enough to get himself into prime defensive position to body power rebounders or drivers.”
Porzingis showed promise at Summer League, but what also was clear was his need to put on some weight and get stronger because guys like Jahlil Okafor pushed him around with ease. And even if he puts on that weight, as Jackson said his center of gravity may be too high. That said, he showed a skill for using his length to compensate.
Porzingis showed far more skill and potential on offense than Bradley did — and he showed some shot-blocking chops. Not Bradley level, but he could develop into a rim protector.
It’s far, far too early to say how any of this draft class will turn out (Summer League is not a good predictor). But if I were a Knicks fan, I’d not be too worried about the Bradley comparison.