Five years ago, a 7’3″ Latvian standout named Kristaps Porzingis entered the league as the New York Knicks’ first-round draft prize and the fourth overall pick.
Kristaps Porzingis flew under the radar and was sort of overlooked due to the big names in the 2015 rookie class which included huge names like first overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russel, Myles Turner and Devin Booker to name a few. So you wouldn’t be surprised on how the New York faithfuls reacted when their team reached and snagged the Latvian at the fourth spot.
A lot has changed since 2015; if you ask the Knicks fans in attendance that night in MSG, they’d probably want a mulligan with their initial reaction on the Kristaps Porzingis pickup.
Kristaps Porzingis immediately swooned the city with a stellar rookie year proving to be the unicorn he was fondly tagged as. He showed his ability to use score with his smooth jumpshot and putback slams plus defensively, he was a towering presence for the Knicks frontcourt.
The young Kristaps Porzingis averaged 14.3 points per game, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in his first 72 games in the NBA which was good enough to earn All-Rookie First Team honors and ended up being second in the ROTY award behind Towns.
The stretch five would continue to improve in his next few seasons with the Knicks he tore his left ACL on the latter part of his third season in New York. Before his season-ending injury, Kristaps Porzingis was averaging career highs in points (22.7), blocks (2.4) and even three-point percentage (.395%). He would be sidelined for a whole season until the Knicks decided to move him on a blockbuster trade with the Dallas Mavericks in January 2019.
The deal sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavs where he was going to be a centerpiece for the future of the franchise and would be paired up with another European sensation in Luka Doncic.
Doncic carried the team while Kristaps Porzingis continued to rehab his knee and finally, after one year and eight months the Latvian was able to make his debut with the Mavs after missing one year and eight months of basketball. Obviously, with Doncic playing in an MVP-level, doubts on whether or not Porzingis will be the same as he was pre-ACL would be evident but with Doncic being the facilitator that he is, it simply opened up more opportunities for Porzingis to shine.
In his first season in Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis is back to his old unicorn self averaging 20.4 points per game, a career-high of 9.5 rebounds to pair with a couple of blocks.
Though Doncic has proven that he can push the Mavs to greatness, it’s been his effective tandem with Kristaps Porzingis that’s really been key to the Mavs this season. Experts were expecting the team to slowly build on the chemistry of the team’s young core but the Mavericks, behind terrific efforts from both Doncic and Porzingis, shocked the world and is now sitting at the seventh seed in the West as the post-season approaches.
Kristaps Porzingis’ undeniable impact for Dallas both offensively and defensively has been one of the bright spots for the Mavs this season, which has been fully showcased inside the NBA bubble in Orlando. In the seeding games he’s played, he’s been able to tally 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds and, along with partner Doncic, is one of only six players in the league averaging more than 30 points per game in Orlando. The Latvian has been locked in for Dallas and looks to be more than ready to make his playoff debut this year.
And the scary part is that he’s done all this at just 25.