On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers got another look at what they passed up on during the 2015 NBA Draft. Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks came to town and got the win at the Staples Center while the 7’3″ forward dominated from start to finish.
The Lakers ended up with a very talented guard in D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. Few seem to doubt Russell’s potential to be a star in the NBA, but Porzingis is already showing that star quality while producing on a nightly basis for the Knicks.
Apparently, former Lakers Byron Scott thought Porzingis would be quite the project to develop on the NBA level. Scott jokingly said he’d want a contract extension from the team if the Lakers decided to go with Porzingis over Russell, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
Then-Lakers head coach Byron Scott, whose outdated mindsets have been well documented, even kidded Lakers staffers after watching Porzingis wilt with exhaustion that Scott had better get a contract extension if the club decided to draft Porzingis and wait for him to grow up.
Obviously, it didn’t matter who Scott wanted to draft or who favored with him being fired after his second season as head coach. Scott still got the player he wanted in drafting what may potentially be the next great point guard for the Lakers, but his relationship with Russell never really developed into anything positive.
As for Porzingis, the Latvian import has been turning heads all over the league as he continues to show drafting him was worth the gamble for Phil Jackson and company. The rising Knicks star is currently averaging 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game.
In the 15 games Russell has played this season, the Ohio State product is averaging 15.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. Although D’Angelo is putting up decent numbers thus far, his turnovers have been a cause for concern at 3.1 per contest.
It is only year two for Russell and Porzingis. A lot can and will happen in the years to come, but as of right now, the Knicks seem to have lucked out by drafting the seven-footer. Russell is still a work in progress with a potentially bright future ahead but has yet to prove he can play consistently well while being the leader in the backcourt for Los Angeles.