Kristaps Portzingis has a lot of potential. The Knicks’ No. 4 draft pick certainly has great length, he’s got range on his outside shot, and at Summer League he showed flashes of using that length to be a shot changer on defense.
He’s also got a lot of work to do to be a quality NBA player. A lot of that starts with adding muscle, but there is more to it. The Knicks like his work ethic and drive to get better, and to illustrate that GM Steve Mills told this story to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
“One day I went by him, and [Porzingis] was in the cold plunge [pool] and he was on his phone, and I went over to see what he was doing,” Mills said. “He was watching Usain Bolt videos on running techniques.
“He is that diligent in terms of trying to understand every aspect of his body, every aspect of getting better and stronger. He’s a unique guy in that regard, and it will allow him to become the best player he can.”
It’s easy to see the connection in that Bolt is tall for a sprinter but uses his long strides to his advantage. Let’s just hope Porzingis doesn’t take to wearing Jamaican-colored track uniforms.
The Knicks may have something in Porzingis — Phil Jackson certainly hopes so, he bet big on the Latvian. Jackson thinks Porzingis can be a hub in the triangle offense one day (although if they are still running the triangle in a few years is up for debate). After watching him at Summer League (and talking to scouts and executives) I could see what some scouts liked, but we are still two years away from having a solid read on how good Porzingis can be — he is that raw. There is a lot of work to do, and even Jackson has questions. Which is why the Knicks are quick to sell the “look at his work ethic” story lines.