Back in 2015, the New York Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall. And it’s fair to say Knicks fans weren’t too happy about this. The famous Stephen A Smith openly criticized Phil Jackson, the Knicks head coach, for drafting Porzingis. Going into the draft, Porzingis was pretty unknown, but this was mainly because he didn’t attend an American college, not because he wasn’t talented. Despite all the hate he received from Knicks fans, Porzingis stayed in New York and proved his haters wrong. He showed how he’s more than just a tall 7 footer who can’t do anything but rebound and dunk. He showed he’s agile, has impressive handles and can shoot threes really well for a 7 footer. Although he didn’t win ROTY, he was on the All Rookie team and had earned the respect of NBA fans.
For his next two seasons, he continued to improve and develop his defensive game, averaging 2.4 blocks per game and 22.7 points per game in the 2017-18 season. He was fun to watch and gave Knicks fans something to be excited about. Everything was going well until the night of February 6th 2018.
The Knicks were hosting the Bucks at the Garden and it was a close game for the first quarter. Then just over 3 minutes in, Porzingis makes a great cut into the key and has the ball fed into him. With Giannis trailing behind him, he takes 2 steps and dunks it right on Giannis’ head. What would often be the play of the night ended up being catastrophic for Porzingis. As he was coming down to land, he lands awkwardly on Giannis’ foot and ends up tearing his left ACL. Little did Porzingis know at the time, this would be his last game as a Knick. This injury caused him to miss a season and a half on playing time.
As we all know, the Dallas Mavericks drafted Porzingis to pair him up with Luka Doncic, and so far they’ve played well together. You’ve got Doncic who’s one of the best offensive players in the league, after only 2 seasons. And Porzingis, when he’s healthy, is one of the best shooting big men in the league. Where Porzingis excels though, is with how easily he can go from setting screens and posting up like a traditional centre, to then going back to the agile ball hander that he is. This is why we call him the Unicorn, because he’s 7 feet tall but can play like a guard. He’s a guard trapped inside a centre’s body.