If you’re an NBA Draft freak, you already know the big names in 2015: Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor, Karl Towns, and Myles Turner. They’re all United States born players and will likely have terrific freshman seasons at their respective schools, but in a class filled with potential star big men, one name gets lost in the shuffle: Kristaps Porzingis.
At only 18-years-old, Porzingis decided to pull out of the 2014 NBA Draft and spend another year developing his skills overseas since he likely would’ve been a “draft-and-stash” anyway. The native of Latvia probably made the right choice because if he continues trending upwards, he could very well be a potential top 10, or even top 5 selection in 2015.
Kristaps Porzingis Scouting Report
Despite standing at 7-feet with a gigantic wingspan, Porzingis still gets knocked for his scrawny body, but his frame actually compares to one of the best bigs in the NBA, Joakim Noah, who was also rail thin as a teenager.
With very wide shoulders, Porzingis has plenty of room to add muscle to his upper body, and if he works hard enough, his lower body should improve as well. Ironically, the concern most people have with him is the last thing anybody should be talking about, because adding muscle to his frame should be the easiest part of his development.
With an explosive vertical and extremely quick feet, Porzingis has potential as a terrific rim protector. In limited minutes, Porzingis consistently displayed fantastic spatial awareness as a weakside helper and in the pick-and-roll, quickly speeding over to block or deter shots at the rim. For his age, his intelligence is impressive, which could help him improve on all facets of his game, not just defending.
However, Porzingis does need to improve his rebounding and low post defense, as many of the grown men of the Liga ACB pushed him around last season. Even though part of his lack of success in this area may be due to the fact he’s so young and his body is underdeveloped, it could be that he has “soft mindset.” Until he develops or is interviewed by teams, this is an unknown. But for a player who prefers hovering around the perimeter, it’s a possibility.
But even then, Porzingis can make a career out of playing on the perimeter, since stretch bigs are in vogue in the modern NBA. Given that every franchise is on the lookout for a seven-footer that can stretch the floor and drain three-pointers, Porzingis could find success in this department. Even though Porzingis’ percentages were down (he shot only 30.2% from three with Cajasol), he has outstanding, smooth mechanics that should see statistical progress as he keeps perfecting his craft. Porzingis’ shot is virtually unblockable with his high release, and he only needs to improve on his consistency, which should come naturally with time.
Most exciting of all is Porzingis’ ability to put the ball on the floor, attack closeouts, and get to the rim. If he’s able to develop his shot he’ll be a major threat in the NBA, as he can spot up and shoot or dribble penetrate. It wouldn’t be surprising if he grew up playing point guard considering some of his natural guard skills, though he also must be sure to cut down on some of his risky passes.
Porzingis’ post game was nonexistent last year, but with a good handle and footwork, there is a chance that he could develop into a face up scorer who uses his speed to beat some of the more strength-oriented bigs. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever be a major threat in this area, but it’s not out of the question for him to balance his scoring instead of being restricted as an outside shooter and slasher.
Being a low post threat is somewhat unimportant as long as a player is able to make up for it in other areas. Take DeAndre Jordan for example, who can’t shoot or even score from the low post, but he’s a major threat in transition and in the pick-and-roll.
Even though Porzingis’ overall game is quite different from Jordan, the point stands in that even if go-to low post moves aren’t developed, it can be forgiven because he brings so much else on the offensive end. With such explosiveness, Porzingis has proven that he can score at ease when he’s running with a full head of steam towards the rim. With his size, speed, and explosiveness, Porzingis has skills that project quite well to the NBA.
When you’re busy watching college basketball towards the end of the year, be sure to not forget about Kristaps Porzingis, who could very well become one of the best all-around big men in the 2015 NBA Draft.