For many NBA fans — and a few front office types — Kristaps Porzingis is a mystery man. He’s a seven-footer out of Latvia and the Spanish league who has a sweet outside shooting stroke and the ability to finish in the lane.
But how good is he?
Good enough that he should be in the mix for the No. 1 pick if you ask the Bucks’ Marcus Landry And why should you ask Landry? Because he andPorzingas were teammates at Cajasol Sevilla in the Spanish ABC league (the second best league in the world right now).
Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times did ask Landry and got a glowing report.
“It sad nobody really knows much about this kid right now because he played in Spain,’’ Landry said. “I think this kid is amazing.’’…
“Honestly, I think Kristaps should be the No. 1 pick if you’re going to base it off potential,’’ Landry said. “I personally think he’s the best kid in the draft. And I’m not saying that because he’s a friend of mine.
“I know basketball. I’ve been in the NBA; I’ve been around NBA players. I’d tell you if he sucks. But he’s really good. If he goes beyond No. 2, that would be a mistake on some team’s part.’’
There are scouts that agree with Landry.
Porzingas is big but what grabs scouts attention is the fluidity of his game — he plays like a three on the wing, but can finish with authority in the paint. He can thrive in an uptempo game, or a league trending small. The biggest plus is a sweet shooting stroke, a quick release that already has NBA three-point range. His length and athleticism make him strong on the glass, and his length allows him to block shots in the paint. He is the walking definition of a guy with upside.
He has to put on muscle, and he needs time to develop a better feel for the game. The team that drafts him may be three years away from really knowing what they got.
But if you ask Landry, they are getting a franchise player.
Porzingas will be drafted somewhere between the Sixers at No. 3 — GM Sam Hinkie likes him and D’Angelo Russell — and No. 5, no way he falls past the Magic. In between are the Knicks at No. 4, a team willing to trade their pick.