Initially, when the New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, there were more eyebrows raised than comments of praise for the bold choice. Fans booed mercilessly, and questions of Phil Jackson‘s decision-making in the Big Apple began heating up.
Then, all of the doubters were silenced once the season began. Porzingis made the All-Rookie First Team with 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game, good for the seventh in the NBA in that department. A star has been born in New York, with his jersey only being outsold by Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, and LeBron James.
Jackson, who won five titles as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, encouraged his former team to take Porzingis before the '15 draft after watching his workouts. Now, he believes they should regret their decision.
Jackson's comments, from Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“We knew that [Porzingis] had a lot of talent. We saw that even in the workout with him shooting, and I had some fun with one of the Buss guys and I told him after [our] workout, ‘You guys are going to be sorry if you don’t pick up Porzingis with the second pick.’ They didn’t, we did.”
Instead, the Lakers took Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell second overall. The Purple & Gold still have high expectations for Russell, who provided a few flashes of brilliance during his rookie campaign. He ended up averaging 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game, good enough for a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team.
Only time will tell if the Lakers make a mistake here. Both players could become stars, or both could fail to live up to the hype long-term. We'll have to wait and see.
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