Ah, the New York Knicks. The Knicks are one of the original eleven teams of the NBA. However, the Knicks now are relegated to the back of the prestige line. Once a proud franchise in the annals of basketball history, the Knicks are fighting to remain relevant in their own city. However, there’s good news, in the shape of Kristaps Porzingis. Along with said good news, lies the question; “What do the Knicks need to do in order to help Kristaps Porzingis’ development?”
Flashback to Draft night:
ESPN’s Stephen A Smith abruptly ended his vacation to weigh in on the New York Knicks’ draft selection in 2015. On “SportsCenter” the reaction was epic.
Smith said of the Porzingis selection,
“New York Knick fans were at the Barclays Center booing because we recognize that we have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amuck, and flat out deceived by Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks.”
Smith spoke for all Knicks fans in this instance as the feeling appeared mutual. The fans, like Smith, were all inaccurate in their assessment of Porzingis.
Fast-forward to today
Coming off of two consistent seasons showing solid growth and the tune has since changed around Porzingis. He’s now “The Unicorn”, “Porzingod” and all sorts of other ridiculous monikers. Those same Knicks fans, Smith included, now love Porzingis. These are a few options to help facilitate his development.
First, do not move him to play center
Porzingis is a power forward. Never mind the fact that he is over 7 feet tall weighing approximately 240 pounds. He plays the forward position. His lithe frame makes banging inside as a feasible option. Most pundits believe that Porzingis will eventually move to center. Porzingis as a player can be compared to Dirk Nowitzki. Though Porzingis is not nearly as great a shooter as Nowitzki, he is a capable shooter averaging 35 percent from beyond the arc. His usage rate is respectable at 24 percent, with his win shares per 48 minutes at 0.100 (the league average). Porzingis shot an effective field goal percentage of 0.507, with an average of 15 attempts per game.
Second, complete the Carmelo Anthony trade
As stated earlier, Porzingis on average shot 15 attempts per game. Star player Carmelo Anthony shot an average 18.8 attempts per contest, and 19.5 per game for his career. Though immensely talented as an offensive force, Anthony is a renowned ball-stopper and shot taker. Anthony while helpful in the transition for Porzingis has outlived his purpose in New York. For Anthony to be effective, he’s best at the power forward position, which hampers the development of Porzingis. With Anthony gone, Porzingis becomes the first option.
Third, Have sturdy physical players around him
On the Mavericks championship roster, Tyson Chandler (former Knick) was a key component. Chandler alongside teammates Brandan Haywood, Shawn Marion, and Ian Mahinmi each played vital roles on Mavericks. These were the defensive specialists in the Mavericks’ front court. A similar strategy must be employed for Porzingis. Unless Porzingis weighs 300 pounds or close to it, he’s a defensive liability especially on the glass and in the post.
Fourth, An experienced floor general is a must
Perhaps the most important thing the Knicks must do to aid in Porzingis’ development is acquiring an experienced point guard. The Derrick Rose experiment failed miserably in Manhattan, now the Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina from France as the point guard of the future. Ntilikina may turn out to be an inspired selection by the since departed Phil Jackson but for Porzingis it’s currently absolutely useless. Ron Baker was re-signed but he’s not exactly a general, and Ramon Sessions is a career back-up and journeyman. Sessions is there to assist young Ntilikina. However, while school is in “Session” Porzingis’ growth might be stymied.
Fifth, Show patience and commitment to Porzingis
Words like patience and commitment must become watch-words. However, in this instance for the development of Porzingis, the Knicks must exercise patience and show their commitment to him. What does that entail? Understand that he’s not only the star player, but also the future. Mistakes happen. No mixed messages or undue criticism is allowed during this process. Most importantly, the Knicks must remember that patience remains a virtue.
“Knickery things” from management are no longer allowed. No more trading for a broken down point guard with a huge contract. One front office person can no longer sign a player without the rest aware. The Knicks must see Porzingis for what he is; The Goose that laid the Golden Egg.