The Los Angeles Lakers played the New York Knicks last week with the team falling to Derek Fisher’s squad at Madison Square Garden. It was the first time the Lakers were able to get a look at rookie forward Kristpas Porzingis in the regular season, and the international product didn’t disappoint.
Back at the 2015 NBA Draft, Porzingis was in the discussion with the team’s No. 2 pick. However, the Lakers ultimately chose D’Angelo Russell to pair with Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.
After the loss to the Knicks, Kobe Bryant was asked what he thought of the Knicks rookie. Bryant seemed impressed with Porzingis and believes he’s got a bright future ahead in the NBA, via Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
“From what I’ve seen so far, looks pretty damn good,” Kobe Bryant said last week before the Lakers faced Porzingis and the Knicks at the Garden. “He’s skillful, can do a lot of things and he seems to be competitive, too. He has a good competitive spirit about him.”
Bryant was informed that his former coach and current Knicks president, Phil Jackson, sees some similarities to Pau Gasol. Kobe, comically admitting that he’s disagreed with Jackson on more than occasion, believes he’s more like Dirk Nowitzki, via Berger:
“Pau?” Bryant said. “No. Wouldn’t be the first time me and Phil disagreed. Porzingis, from what I’ve seen, he seems more Dirk-like in terms of style of play more so than Pau.”
Heading into the 2015 NBA Draft, there was a lot of debate about Porzingis’ potential and where he might land. Kristaps ultimately ended up being drafted much higher than anticipated with the Knicks willing to take the risk after dropping out of the top three.
So far, it seems as though the gamble the Knicks made is paying off. New York could have a significant building block with Porzingis playing alongside superstar Carmelo Anthony.
In nine games played, Porzingis is averaging 11.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. Decent numbers for a rookie, to say the least, especially one surrounded by so much uncertainty.