On this blog, there’s been some good debate on the growth and potential of Kristaps Porzingis. I thought I’d dip a little into the stats to get a better understanding.
Porzingis’ detractors point to his disappointing rebounding numbers as a red flag in his growth. Per 36 minutes, his rebounds have dropped from his rookie rate of 9.3 to 7.8. The decline on the defensive portion to 5.9 dreb/36 is what’s most worrisome. While there have been successful centers with this low of a rate (Kareem, M. Gasol, Ilgauskas, Miller, Cartwright, Smits, Okur, etc.) it’s not an ideal trait in a franchise player.
However that number may not be indicative of Porzingis’ lack of glasswork. Porzingis shares front court duty with Noah, O’Quinn, or Hernangomez, and those three are averaging 14.2, 13.5, and 13.1 rebounds per 36 minutes respectively. Hence it’s entirely possible that Zinger is playing with better rebounders who are negatively affecting his personal stats.
On the other hand, the Knicks are 30th in the league in defensive boards. But according to 82games.com, New York is +1.6% better at defensive rebounding with Porzingis on the floor.
In other words, it’s a bit murky whether or not Porzingis is a sub-par rebounder or merely average. Either way he could silence the debate with stronger numbers, but it’s unlikely to get significantly better than his current rate. So let’s leave it that he’ll never be great at capturing misses, and look at the other stats.
Rating his defense is another difficult proposition. However he’s averaging 2.2 blk/36, and again 82games.com has New York’s defense as -3.3 points per 100 better with him on the floor. Of course this isn’t exactly definitive one way or another, but these numbers could be worse. Almost certainly he’s an average defender or better.
Finally let’s look at his offensive efficiency. Here Kristaps has seen an increase in his ts% from 51.8% to 54.9%. Again we need some context for this, so I looked at all 21 year old sophomore big men since 1979. Our center ranks 24th in eFG our of 77 players from the list. Again it’d be nice if Porzingis were in the top 3 with Shaq & K.A.T., but he’s in decent company with the top 3rd.
It’s unlikely that Vienradzis is a generational talent, as most HOFers begin to excel by their second season. However to write him off as a regular NBA-er is a bit shortsighted. It’s very possible that Porzingis becomes an All Star, although it’s not going to happen as an elite rebounder. Taking that list of sophomore centers, and Zinger is 9th in points/36. Of the top 15 sorted by points, all have made an All Star Game except for Porzingis and Larry Hughes. That’s not bad company to be in.
Post script: Which center would you rather have?
Age R/36 P/36 B/36 TS%
A 20 6.1 14.5 1.0 49.1%
A 21 6.5 17.6 0.8 56.4%
B 20 9.3 18.1 2.4 51.8%
B 21 7.8 19.9 2.2 54.9%
Based on that, Player B (Porzingis) is the better option. Player A is Nowitzki.