The Promise of Porzingis

Through the last near two decades of New York Knicks ignominy, it has become hard to appreciate any Knicks player for what they are, as the fanbase is so dejected and the media so hungry for success that players are often anointed prodigy status well before they have earned it.

With Kristaps Porzingis, the flashes have been evident right from day one.

Committed fans might remember that his very first Summer League game had him matched up against then Rookie of the Year favorite Jahlil Okafor. Porzingis got burned on back to back possessions by Okafor in the post and it seemed as if all the worst pre-draft stereotyping prophecies were being fulfilled. He was too skinny, weak and perhaps worst of all passive.

But an interesting thing happened the next time down the court, KP stuck to Okafor like glue. In fact, Okafor couldn’t even receive an entry pass KP was fronting him so hard. He denied him the ball over and over again until Okafor was visibly frustrated.

Eventually, when Okafor did receive the ball, KP rejected him not once but twice at the rim.

You could see KP size up his opponent in real time, adjust his defensive strategy and execute.

I remember texting my brother shortly thereafter “I think we got the guy”. The text required no further explanation; every fan of a franchise in the down years knows what it means to be looking for “the guy”.

Such has been the promise of Porzingis ever since that first Summer League game, that he could, on both ends of the court, be “the guy”. The Knicks opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the 19th of October all but confirmed that Porzingis had turned that promise into a complete game. His follow up in the Knicks home opener on the 21st against the Detroit Pistons erased any shadow of remaining doubt. KP dominated in his minutes on both ends of the floor, despite lacking contributions by many of his teammates.

Knicks past and present were perhaps never more eloquently demonstrated as by this torch passing from master to student.