In news that will horrify gun-control advocates everywhere, Porzingis continues to stock-pile weaponry in the NBA off-season. Rather than put his feet up and enjoy the fruits of a promising rookie season (in which he was the clear second-best player of his draft; finishing just behind Karl Anthony-Towns in Rookie of the Year voting), he returned to his native Latvia to host a youth basketball camp and work on his game. It was there, that the following footage was recorded, courtesy of ESPN's Ian Begley:
Here's a great clip of Porzingis driving to rim, absorbing the contact of multiple defenders and finishing with a Duncan-esque bank shot.
Oh, and here's some brief footage of a crossover/step-back dribble executed perfectly by Porzingis.
... Cross-over dribble into pull-up jump-shot? Hell yeah!
And the goddamn maraschino cherry on top, I present to you, POINT PORZINGIS.
Admittedly, this kind of off-season hype is par for the course when speaking about talented NBA rookies about to enter their sophomore year. It's right up there with "X has put on 15 pounds of muscle so far" or "Y is working out with Hakeem" in off-season tropes. I still remember hearing about Anthony Davis working on his three-point shot around about the same time last year.
What separates these Twitter clips from just being empty hype however, is the fact that we can actually SEE improvements in the way Porzingis plays, in real time (or about as often as Begley updates his feed). Absorbing contact from defenders was a pretty obvious problem for Porzingis in the past season, so when the season finishes that's the first deficiency he works at. Rim protection and maintaining defensive assignments came incredibly naturally to the 20-year old in his rookie season, so of course he wants to add more offensive moves to his bag of tricks.
This isn't the standard progress for the sake of progress we've come to expect from players. It's great that Anthony Bennett is looking pretty trim, as per a recent Instagram pic, but Bennett's problems in the NBA mostly come from questions about his skill level, basketball IQ and confidence. His weight certainly didn't help, but it was never the smoking gun as to why he as a player is mostly considered a dud.
Another reason that this footage has Knicks fans in an hysteric lather, is the personnel training Porzingis through these camps. That would be Josh Longstaff, current assistant to the Knicks and former assistant under the Oklahoma City Thunder. So I guess that would be the reason why Porzingis is drawing some Durant comparisons, particularly in those cross-over videos. A 7-footer even attempting those moves, let alone completing them with the finesse Porzingis demonstrates, is as rare as a unicorn.
Of course, Porzingis isn't playing against NBA-level opponents in these videos, and Kevin Durant is one of the top 3 players in the league today. Claiming this as evidence of Porzingis potentially ascending to the same heights as Durant isn't exactly prescient. But it is VERY exciting; coupling these clips with the offensive system Jeff Hornacek will bring to the Knicks this year gives us in the bleachers a lot to favourably capitulate on for the coming season.
And damn, if that isn't more good news than Knicks fans are used to.