Sports

Kristaps Porzingis Taking Over the NBA

Knicks Off to a Surprisingly Good Start

By: Eric Ransom

Porzingis stands at 7’3”, the tallest power forward in the NBA. (Credit: srf.ch)

In New York, unicorns do exist.

Led by Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks have gone from being utterly abysmal to a complete surprise in 2017.

Porzingis, also known as “The Unicorn”, surged to the top as one the NBA’s best players. After a terrific rookie season and solid performance last year, Porzingis has taken his biggest step forward.

The 2016-2017 Knicks finished last year with a 31-51 record, missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in Carmelo Anthony’s final season in New York.

After trading Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder last September, the Knicks would become Porzingis’s team.

With new additions like Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, veteran Jarrett Jack, and teenage rookie Frank Ntilikina, Porzingis has led the charge, lifting the Knicks back into relevancy in the Eastern Conference.

With Porzingis as the focal point, he has flourished in his role, starting the season with MVP-like performances and becoming a superstar.

In 8 of the first 12 games, Porzingis has scored at least 30 points, including a career-high 40 point game against the Pacers on November 5.

Porzingis also broke the Knicks record for points in the first ten games of a season, scoring 300 points and breaking the record of 298 points, set by Bernard King in 1984.

In the 17 games Porzingis has played, he ranks top 10 in the NBA averaging 27.3 PPG and 2.3 BBG. He also averages 7.2 RPG and has a .355 three-point percentage.

These resurgent Knicks have already beaten teams like the Cavaliers and Raptors, who were all playoff teams last season.

Despite the incredible success Porzingis is having, it is worth noting that shunned former Knicks President Phil Jackson, not only drafted Porzingis in 2015, but built the majority of the team he plays with today.

Major supporting pieces who have tenure with the Knicks, like Kyle O’Quinn and Courtney Lee, were brought to New York by Jackson.

Stars have emerged, like the once former Knick Tim Hardaway Jr., who was originally drafted by the Knicks in 2012 and played two seasons for the team before leaving for the Atlanta Hawks.

His performance has been crucial to the team’s early success in his second tour of duty with the Knicks.

Hardaway Jr. leads the team in average three-pointers made, putting up career-high numbers along the way.

French Rookie point guard, Frank Ntilikina, has emerged quickly as a viable defensive stud, leading the Knicks and all rookies in steals-per game, at just the age of 19. Jackson drafted Ntilikina in the 2017 draft, one of his final moves before being fired after his tumultuous tenure as President.

Jackson famously sparred with Carmelo Anthony, as he stubbornly enforced the triangle offense, and even dangled Porzingis for a trade last summer.

As if it were a cruel joke, the majority of the Knicks this year was built by Jackson, minus only rebounds per game leader Enes Kanter and sharpshooter Doug McDermott. Both players were acquired in the Anthony trade by former General Manager and now turned President, Steve Mills.

With the success of Porzingis, the Knicks aim to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season, where they finished 54-28.

The unicorn sightings have been abundant this season, and if they continue, Madison Square Garden may finally house playoff basketball again.

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