Color Me Wrong on Porzingis
by John Jastremski
Nov 24, 2015 | 6918 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s only 15 games into the NBA season, but the Knicks already have given more reasons to cheer and smile than they did all of last year. The team thus far has been a pleasant surprise at 8-7 and has played a fun brand of basketball that has been very enjoyable to watch.

Maybe, it’s due to the fact my expectations were minimal, but the main reason many Knicks fans, including yours truly, are actually sipping legitimate kool-aid is due to the unbelievable start to the career of rookie Kristaps Porzingis.

I’ll admit it, and I’m sure many of you remember my column back in the summer blasting the Knicks for the selection of the 19-year-old Latvian in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Well so far, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I wondered how in the world a 19-year-old kid who is built like a twig would be able to help Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the 2015-16 Knicks.

Folks, not only has Porzingis helped Anthony and the Knicks, he’s thrived.

Porzingis has made the comparisons to European All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol seem rather legitimate.

In his first 15 games as an NBA player, he’s averaged 13 points and nine rebounds a game. These are numbers that are comparable to what superstar Anthony Davis gave the New Orleans franchise in his first year in the league.

Knicks fans can only hope Porzingis can turn into one of the best players the league has to offer.

It turns out the notion of Porzingis being two or three years away from contributing to an NBA rotation was an utter fallacy.

I wondered how Porzingis’ lean frame would be able to handle the daily poundings of competing with some of the best athletes in the world. I figured he would be a major liability defensively.

Porzingis has not only scored and shown unbelievable skill offensively, but he’s also displayed unbelievable toughness on the defensive end as well.

He’s not afraid to grab a tough rebound, block a big shot or go up for a monster jam showing no fear whatsoever.

To see a 19-year-old player show you that sort of toughness is encouraging and inspiring to a Knick fan that is dying for a winner.

Those sort of tough, hustle plays will make you a fan favorite in this city. That’s why we love Charles Oakley and detest Andrea Bargnani.

He has said all the right things, he promised he would turn those draft day boos into cheers, and he has done just that in his rookie season.

There’s still a long way to go in determining what kind of player Porzingis will actually develop into, but his emergence has given the Knick fan a feeling they’ve been longing for, but a feeling that can be dangerous: a feeling of hope.

The hope of a homegrown player developing into a star player for years to come. The last time the Knick fan base had that feeling is when a guy named Ewing made his way from Georgetown to Madison Square Garden.

The arrival of Porzingis seems real, not just for the short term but for years to come. It doesn’t have the same flash in the pan feel like “Linsanity” or the mirage of a 54-win season back in 2012-2013.

It’s amazing, I wanted no part of the draft pick back in late June, now I can’t get enough of the kid.

Watching the Knicks, and specifically Porzingis, has become appointment viewing. His emergence allows Knicks fans to actually put Knicks and playoffs in the same sentence.

I know, what a concept.

I’m sure there are still plenty of skeptics and I can’t blame you. The Knicks franchise has teased us before, and they’ve done nothing to earn our trust as fans over the last 14 seasons.

However I assure you that it is okay to believe. It’s okay to hope that Porzingis turns out to be the best draft selection the Knicks made since Patrick Ewing.

After the last couple of years, Knicks fans deserve that feeling of hope.

I said on draft night, I hate the pick, but if he’s some crazy combo of Dirk and Gasol, the franchise may have hit the jackpot.

Let’s hope that ends up being the case. So far, so good.

JJ’s Week 12 NFL Unlocks

(Season Record: 22-29-3)

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You can listen to me Thursday & Friday evening from 6-10 p.m. on CBS Sports Radio and Friday, Sunday & Tuesday from 2-6 a.m. on WFAN.
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