Before the 2015 NBA Draft, Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis was a bit of an unknown. Despite playing in the Spanish league for four years and declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft before withdrawing, some fans and the media were apparently hesitant about the 7’3″ power forward. When time came for him to be drafted into the NBA, they made their voices heard. Lets take a trip down memory lane to June 2015.

While always considered a good prospect, after a impressive pre-draft workout a couple of weeks before the draft, the buzz around Porzingis’ grew significantly. Numerous scouts and analysts raved about him.  However, many fans and media members seemed to believe that Porzingis was more on the side of international busts like Darko Milicic and Jan Vesely as opposed to stars like Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki.

A relatively unknown international player plus the possibility of playing in one of the biggest markets in the United States created a perfect storm of fear of the unknown for Knicks fans. As the draft became closer, some were becoming very concerned that the Knicks would actually draft Porzingis with the 4th pick.

Once Draft night rolled around, the Knicks seemed convinced behind the scenes that Porzingis was their man. After the Lakers took D’Angelo Russell with the second pick, Porzingis was open for the Knicks to take him at four, and then all hell broke loose.

Also, it shouldn’t be shocking but First Take’s Stephen A. Smith went on SportsCenter right after the draft to express his disgust about the Porzingis pick. Because he felt Porzingis was a “project” that would take three to five years to develop, Smith hated the choice. It bothered him so much that he even momentarily stopped his vacation to go on SportsCenter and vent that the Knicks needed players for the short-term.

Stephen A pointed out some players who the Knicks should’ve drafted. He mentioned Willie Cauley-Stein (6th pick with Sacramento), Stanley Johnson (8th pick with Detroit) and Justise Winslow (10th pick with Miami). Comparing all four, Porzingis has more twice as many points per game (15.5 ppg) than the next player and is the only player of the four to start in every game (88 games) he has played in the NBA.

Kristaps Porzingis is only in his second year so there is still a long way to go to determine how great he will be in the NBA. But it seems like Porzingis has had a great start in just his second season. While team executives aren’t always perfect, this is one of those times where Phil Jackson and the Knicks got it right and the team and Porzingis really proved the media and fans wrong.


About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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