Kristaps Porzingis Round Table Discussion

With the Knicks drafting Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall, we decided to go to our panel of experts. We asked them to finish the following statements.

New York is going to regret taking Porzingis over …

Kurylo: Willie Cauley-Stein. This guy reminds me of Kevin Garnett. Can guard anyone, but questionable offensive skills. If he stays healthy, he’ll be in the league 15+ years.

Armosino: Justise Winslow. Would’ve been a strong 3 and D wing that would’ve allowed them to play Carmelo at the four. Doesn’t have the upside of Porzingis, but his skill set also affords him a higher floor.

Fisher-Cohen: Long term, I think Hezonja is the only player drafted after #4 who has the potential to be worth regretting (i.e. perennial All-Star). But people will bitch for a year or two about us passing on Winslow and Mudiay because both will put up numbers that pop at a glance early on.

Cronin: No one offhand. Even if someone else turns out to be great, there was no one after Zinger that was a no-brainer. Mudiay was a safer pick, but not necessarily a better pick. So it is hard to knock them for the pick in terms of “How did you pass on ____?” Any one of those four-five guys would have been a fine pick.

Udwary: Maybe Justise Winslow, for the more immediate gratification of having a more ready to contribute player. Really, though, you have to like the potential of the Zinger to be a nightmare matchup for the entire NBA. I kind of like the pick.

By taking Porzingis, Phil Jackson’s showed …

Kurylo: he’s neither as clever as his reputation, nor as dumb as I thought. New York could have traded this pick down, and done some creative stuff. But they also could have made the mistake to go with a “triangle” guy or ready-now player. I’m glad they swung for the fences, because drafts are graded 3-5 years after the fact.

Cronin: That he’s willing to make a risky pick over a safer pick that didn’t fit his system as well (Mudiay). I suppose I also like that he’s willing to try for a home run whose talent won’t show up right away. For a guy who doesn’t plan on being here in six years, I appreciate that he’s willing to draft a guy who might not be good until Year 3.

Fisher-Cohen: I still worry Zinger will get traded, but if we keep him, like I wrote in the last round table, it is the first thing Jackson’s done that indicates he understands the pit the Knicks are in and is willing to build for the long term — that the Knicks may be leaving the endless “screw rebuilding” cycle of mediocrity. To me, that’s much more important than the pick itself as the Knicks had zero chance of being great if they stayed on the win now wagon, making all their decisions irrelevant.

Udwary: It shows he has some patience for this rebuild. Porzingis isn’t the guy who is going to make a major contribution right away. This, of course, completely contradicts the contract that Phil gave Melo, which seeomingly put the emphasis on quickly building a contender around the aging star. So, I guess it also shows Phil is inconsistent. Inconsistent and patient are maybe not the best qualities to share, but it at least worked ok tonight.

When the Knicks selected Porzingis, I…

Kurylo: was fine with the pick. What settled me on Porzingis? Stat-guru Kevin Pelton had him ranked 4th. Pelton’s list also had my favorite Myles Turner ranked 6th, so you know the list is legit. Also the anxiety that the team would do something really stupid (Kaminsky, Lyle, etc.) helped me get over this selection.

Armosino: was happy it wasn’t Frank Kaminsky. Porzingis wasn’t my first choice, but I’m fine with him.

Cronin: resigned myself to him. I was also still sort of moping over losing out on Okafor and Russell. Honestly, after missing out on the guys I really wanted, I was hoping that they’d just take a shot at the grand slam pick with Zinger. It was nicely ballsy.So I was cool with it. Plus, this might very well be it for Bargs, as they wouldn’t want Bargs’ habits rubbing off on Zinger, right? That alone might make this draft a happy day in Knick history.

Fisher-Cohen: Felt extremely happy and hopeful about the Knicks for the first time in a long time (see above for why).

Udwary: I was already crushed when Philly took Okafor, so my main feeling at the time of the pick was numbness. Over time I came to warm up to the pick.

The first year that Porzingis had a PER over 15 will be …

Kurylo: 2018. He’s only 19 and has as much body fat as a three bean salad. Dirk did it in 2 years, but I think he wasn’t as raw.

Porzingis throwing his weight around.
Porzingis throwing his weight around.

Armosino: 2017. PER likes guys that shoot a lot and shoot threes. Unless he’s an immediate bust, I imagine he’ll be playing good minutes in his third season.

Cronin: I wouldn’t be shocked at 2016, but I think 2017 for sure. PER loves scorers and the Zinger is going to score.

Fisher-Cohen: This question is tied into what the Knicks do. If Jackson goes out and signs a bunch of old men to fill the team, and Porzingis only plays like 10 MPG, then he’s probably not going to improve as quickly. But I’ll be optimistic and say 2016/17. If he gets the minutes to get a feel for how to play in the NBA and puts on weight, he should be able to score and put up some defensive stats.

Udwary: It really depends on the team around him. I feel like, as long as Melo is on the team and healthy, Porzingis probably won’t see a many shots, especially if the David West and Greg Monroe rumors are true. So, I would go for 2018 when Melo breaks down and David West turns to dust.

Porzingis’ career will be most similar to …

Kurylo: I’ve crunched the numbers a few times, and I’m having a hard time finding anyone similar to him. Good outside shooting, decent shot blocking, questionable rebounding? Really the two that stick out are Dirk and Wang Zhizhi. Yes that’s a wide range, but hours after a high-risk high-reward selection, that’s all I can muster.

Somewhere between these guys.
Somewhere between these guys.

Armosino: Dirk, obviously. Hall of Fame.

Cronin: Ryan Anderson. Good, tall shooter. Anderson is a fine player, though. It’s no insult.

Udwary: This is tough. The guy is a legit 7’2” with some long arms. If he can put some weight on, and improve his rebounding, he really has the potential to be Pau Gasol with a 3-point shot. I do hope that happens, and he isn’t just another Bargnani – a 7-footer who doesn’t do anything 7-footers should do.

Fisher-Cohen: I’m gonna say Clifford Robinson. I have no idea.

On a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high), today I rank this pick …

Kurylo: 4. I’m surprisingly optimistic on this pick. I wasn’t expecting much from the team, but Phil has actually given some hope to the franchise.

Armosino: 3. Porzingis had the highest upside of anybody left on the board. Gambling with a top-5 pick when the Knicks are this asset barren is definitely a risk, but I also liked that Phil is fine playing the long game. Short term thinking is what has killed the Knicks in the past.

Cronin: 4. What were they supposed to do? The three best players were gone. I’d have given them a 4 if they had taken Mudiay, WCS or Winslow, as well. Perhaps this could even bump up to 5 depending on how much credit I want to give them for just taking the risk.

Udwary: 4. It was probably the best they could do with the pick they had. At least they didn’t take Lyles or Kaminski. Also the pick precipitated a Stephen A. Smith Twitter hissy fit. Stephen A. hating it gives the pick much more credence, in my eyes.

On a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high), 5 years from now I’ll rank this pick …
Kurylo: 2. Unless ‘Zingis learns to rebound or shows he can defend on the NBA level, he’ll be a questionable #4 pick. The odds aren’t great, so I’m going low here & hoping I’m wrong.

Armosino: 5. He’s going to be amazing.

Cronin: 4. I don’t think I’ll judge this pick more harshly or more kindly in five years. I will give them credit for where they were picking, and that’s the same now as it will be in five years.

Udwary: 3. Most likely he will be a serviceable stretch 4 who is a pretty good help defender, but poor rebounder. A solid starter, but not an all-star. The potential is there to be something special, though.

Fisher-Cohen: 4.5. Zinger could be anything from a bust to a superstar. But the fact that the Knicks were willing to take a gamble for once and play for the long term? Priceless.

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