Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis has an, um, idea.
Kurt Rambis has said that due to the athleticism and versatility of Kristaps Porzingis, he could “eventually see him at the 3-spot some,” referring to the small-forward position.
Rambis previously wanted Porzingis to sprint down the court after opponents’ misses for post-up opportunities.
Rambis, who has said Porzingis is “going to be phenomenal,” has also been critical of the rookie’s shot selection, saying “there are shots out there that he takes that I flat-out don’t like.” Porzingis’ 3-point attempts are down since Rambis comment.
Porzingis has struggled since New York fired Derek Fisher, who, despite his other flaws, deserves credit for developing Porzingis. It’s difficult to tell whether that’s because Rambis has mishandled Porzingis or because Porzingis has hit the rookie wall, but both appear to factor.
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis looks like an ideal center in the modern NBA. He can protect the rim defensively and stretch the floor offensively. His shooting puts a lot of pressure on opponents, and unlike many stretch bigs, he provides that skill without being a liability on defense. His rebounding also holds up for the position.
Whatever benefits his size brings to small forward, the weaknesses would cause greater problems. As great as Porzingis’ long strides look, he’s slow for a small forward. His rim protection would matter less from the position, and he’d be guarded by opponents more accustomed to defending the perimeter. If he tries to take his man inside, the paint would be clogged with the Knicks’ power forward and center and the players guarding them.
If New York’s talent is concentrated at power forward and center, maybe Porzingis could play some small forward. Sometimes, maximizing the talent on the floor offsets the fit issues. But the Knicks should try to build a team that best complements Porzingis, and that means finding forwards so he can play center.
It also means hiring a coach who understands why that’s important.