In today's NBA a seven footer that can shoot threes, run the floor and block shots is a very desirable commodity. Can Porzingis be effectively groomed into this role at the NBA level?
First of all, a profile for Kristaps Porzingis has already been written (probably better than I can manage) by one of our contributors, Nick Klimas, as a fanpost. If you only have time/interest to read one article about Porzingis click over to his and leave my bush league ramblings for someone ravenous enough to consume all things Kristaps and Suns' draft coverage related.
He's got some other great video footage of Porzingis doing Porzingis things that I'm not going to copy over to my piece since I'm attempting not to plagiarize his masterpiece (or am I?). Big ups Nick.
Now, for anyone still here, let's break down the Lean Mean Latvian Machine...
Origin: Ventspils, Lativa
Age: 18 (8/2/1995)
Weight: 220 pounds
Porzingis didn't participate in the NBA Draft Combine so there aren't any measurements, but length and athleticism don't appear to be a concern. From all accounts, if he would have measured he would have done well (although some list him as 6' 11").
Draft Express has Porzingis jumping six spots in their most recent mock, which might suggest that teams may be drooling over the wunderkind's potential. On the other end of the spectrum, NBA.com has Kristaps going to the Suns at 27.
Porzingis plays for CB Sevilla (Spain) in the ACB league.
Kristaps played 35 games and averaged 15.2 minutes per game in the 2013/14 season. He scored 6.9 points and collected 2.8 rebounds and a block (.9) in that time. He shot 47.4% from the field, 30.2% from three point range and 62.5% from the line.
Kristaps was selected to the ACB All-Young Players Team for his performance (the league's best players 22 and under).
Porzingis was just the third player under 20 years old (he's 18) to post at least 2.9 blocks per 40 minutes in the last 20 years. He posted the best blocks per 40 (6.6) in the history of the U18 European Championship. That mark is better than what Serge Ibaka posted at that age.
Here's my take from looking at the video profile from Porzingis in the ACB. I'm going to come clean and let you know that I haven't broken down a bunch of ACB film recently.
Porzingis can catch lob passes for dunks with one hand or two. The ability to get easy points on that play is definitely in his arsenal.
He can get up and down the court, which definitely fits the Suns' style.
His shooting stroke looks pretty solid, but he will probably need to speed it up. Building consistency here is a must if he's going to entrench himself as an effective player in this league.
He can put the ball on the floor and go to the basket with a little more speed and grace than Channing Frye (for what that's worth). It's probably not something that will be a big part of his game, but there's enough of a threat that it can't be completely ignored.
It appears that some of his shot blocking is predicated on defensive awareness and correct positioning rather than just super athletic weak side ball hawking. He can actually track a player, cover them on a drive and use his length to block the shot.
Besides the shot blocking, Porzingis can also create mayhem on defense with his length and decent footwork. He doesn't look like a very complete defender (to put it nicely), but definitely disruptive.
Porzingis lacks NBA strength. It's not even close, but he's only 18. I'm not sure if adding weight and strength will help, but he lacks physicality and doesn't try to initiate contact (doesn't seem to have an affinity for it). If it wasn't for the potential of his shooting he would be pretty limited as a big.
It looks like he gets a little confused on offense at times and still needs repetitions on simple plays like the pick and roll and setting screens. The ravelment on his face is easily discerned as plays unravel before him on defense, too. He is not mentally up to pace with the speed of the game, which will get a lot faster at the NBA level.
It's easy to make someone look bad (or good) in a scouting video, but Porzingis just standing and watching the ball when he should be working for positioning and bodying up on defensive rebounds is somewhat concerning. I'm not a big fan of ball watchers. This is one of those is rebounding innate or can it be taught dilemmas?
Suns GM Ryan McDonough is on the record saying that he doesn't plan on using all three of the team's first round picks to add players to his roster. It just doesn't make sense to add that much more youth with Len (20) and Goodwin (19) already facing an uphill battle for playing time on a team that is competing to win now. Even adding two draft picks might be difficult unless one is expected to produce right away, which is far from a sure thing picking in the middle of the first round.
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who will be nonplused if the Suns actually pick 14, 18 and 27...
Depending on where and if the Suns move around Porzingis could be a great option to help the Suns navigate the luxury problem of their surfeit of picks. Porzingis has draft and stash written all over him, with a two year contract (with a modest buyout) cozily in place. On the surface, getting Porzingis at 27 like one mock suggests would seem to be a pretty good calculated gamble.
Then again, if Porzingis is rising up the board where does the opportunity cost set in?