Kristaps Porzingis impressed at Summer League in Las Vegas — he looked like he belonged among the top bigs such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. Porzingis averaged just more than 10 touches a game at Summer League and was efficient, scoring 1.024 points per possession (better than Towns or Okafor). Porzingis showed a high basketball IQ, good passing skills, the ability to play inside, and his defense was better than advertised.
But he was also clearly a project — he’s very thin and very raw.
So he’s in New York now working on adding weight and sharpening his game. You still have to love his attitude in what he told Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“I’m in between happy and my normal calm,’’ Porzingis told The Post. “I’m not thinking: ‘I did good in summer league — now I’m going to do good in the NBA.’ Our training camp will start later and I have to prove myself once again, play as hard as I can and earn my minutes. That was just summer league — a few games to see how I compare to other rookies and get a taste of American basketball.’’
He took a little vacation back home to Latvia after Summer League but is now back working out at the Knicks facility.
“At home I was working out with my brother [Janis] a little bit, lifting weights, going to the gym, getting shots up, but I just wanted to relax a bit,’’ Porzingis said. “Once I’m here full time now, I can just concentrate on eating a lot, lifting a lot and getting stronger…
“I thought I would go home and rest, but it was all interviews, media stuff,’’ he said. “A lot of interest back home, too, kind of intense. Just the last few days I went to the beach.’’
Knicks fans shouldn’t expect too much out of Porzingis his rookie year — looking good at Summer League and looking good in an NBA game are two very different things. He’s got to add muscle, and that will take time. Plus just adjusting to the length and athleticism of NBA players, plus learning where he fits in the triangle, will be a process.
But you can see the potential. Knicks coach Derek Fisher did.
“Just how it complements so many different players and situations,” Fisher said in Las Vegas. “I think defensively he complements guys because of his length and his rim protection. He’s pretty active and can guard multiple guys. I think offensively because of his ability to stretch the floor and do some things around the basket as well. I think he’s a player that fits with just about any lineup, no matter how you’re trying to play. So I think that versatility has been obvious during Summer League.”