“With the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis, from Liepaja, Latvia.”
Boos rained down as Kristaps Porzingis, the looming 7’3 giant got up, kissed his mother, and made his way to the stage.
As Kristaps shook Adam Silver’s hand, chants of “We want Winslow” were heard along with boos and jeers. One young Knick fan was particularly upset:
Porzingis stepped off the stage and was asked what he wants those who haven’t seen him play to know about him.
“For those people that don’t know me, they may think that I’m a soft European, there have been busts before, but I’m different, I really love the game, I’m very hungry, I’m looking forward to playing in the best league in the world against the best players in the world, and it’s my passion of the game that sets me apart.”
Kristaps walked off and the social media slander begins:
Calling it now, Kristaps Porzingis is going to be a HUGE bust.
— Lee Parham (@LegoLee329) June 26, 2015
Screw Phil Jackson, takes Porzingis over Winslow. He is making the Knicks terrible. — Ben Fleming (@gsoyzarc) June 26, 2015
— Ryan Parlin (@RyanParlin) November 13, 2015
Kristaps Porzingis is going to be a HUGE bust. May not even be in the league in 4 years.
— Nick Lynch (@PrettyFlacko47) June 26, 2015
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith hated the Porzingis pick so much he came off of vacation just to bash it.
As time passed, the attacking of the pick by fans, bloggers, and TV personalities slowly died down, and with Porzingis showing flashes of brilliance through Summer League and Preseason, most Knick fans had grown to love him.
The regular season finally started, and soon enough, it wasn’t only Knick fans who were new fans of Porzingis.
Kristaps had shown that he wasn’t just a two-to-three year project, and could contribute immediately alongside one of the best scorers in the league, in Carmelo Anthony. Early in the season, Porzingis was grabbing double-doubles, scoring well, getting rebounds, and playing solid inside defense. Not to mention, he was putting on a highlight reel, putback-dunking on almost every team he went up against.
Through mid-November, KP had put on a show with his dunks, threes, and post-moves, but his true breakout game was November 17 vs the Charlotte Hornets in which he dropped 29 and 11, along with a smooth Dream Shake, and a few and-one hustle plays that had the crowd in the Garden chanting “Por-zing-is”.
It was clear now that the city of New York had embraced Porzingis. The debates of whether or not he was the right pick were replaced by debates of what Kristaps’ nickname should be (Godzingis and Three 6 Latvia seem to be the favorites).
Now that Kristaps has displayed his skill set in the NBA, nearly everyone that bashed the pick has changed their mind about him, even Stephen A. Smith:
This happened too:
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) November 25, 2015
All is looking up for Kristaps and the Knicks early in the season. Porzingis places in the Top 3 in the categories of points, rebounds, and blocks per game out of Rookies, and looks to be an early candidate for Rookie of the Year.
In his short time in the league, KP has shown off his athleticism, rebounding, defense, and ability to score in the post. The 3-point shot advertised that made him an attractive pick coming into the draft hasn’t even fallen yet, and Porzingis is still scoring efficiently and stretching the floor well enough.
With the crazy upside that he displays, it looks like there’s nowhere but up to go for Kristaps. He’s only 20 years old, and has already made an impression on the entire Knicks fanbase, and New York City.