Knicks Stunting their Unicorn’s growth

In the 2015 NBA draft, the New York Knicks drafted the unicorn, but in the summer of 2016 the front office might have stunted its growth. At the draft, Knick fans rain down boos on the young 20 year old Latvian Kristaps Porzingis and his response is what any team would want. In his first interview after being drafted he was asked about the fans booing and he acknowledged it was his job to turn those boos into cheers. As the season went on the Knicks realized they had struck gold. In a bid to make the playoffs this season the Knicks may have sacrificed their future.

This past offseason the Knicks front office headed by Phil Jackson gave Joakim Noah $74 Million over four years, traded for Derrick Rose, and added Courtney Lee in a bid to make the playoffs. The oft-injured Noah played in only 29 games before having  season ending shoulder surgery, while Rose is still trying to regain his old form. Pairing these players with Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis, the Knicks feel like they have a legitimate shot at making a return to the playoffs. The projections have been all over the spectrum for the Knicks, some have them playoff bound and others have them in the lottery.

In the front office’s quest to make the playoffs, they might have delayed the development of Porzingis. In his rookie campaign, he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, while shooting 33% from three. He was named to the all rookie first team and has received praise from his peers such as Kevin Durant. It is Durant who lovingly gave him the nickname the unicorn when describing his game. Porzingis is capable of shooting the three ball, posting up on the block, and is a beast on the glass. At 7’3” he can develop into a defensive force, averaging 1.9 blocks in his rookie campaign. The biggest weakness in his game is his lack of strength, but that is a problem that time itself will fix.

The future of the Knicks rest on Porzingis’ shoulders but the recent acquisitions will make it difficult for him to breakout. Anthony already is a high usage player with a career average of 31.6% (usage percentage is the estimate of the percentage of the team plays are used by the player while he is on the court), Rose brings with him 28.2% usage rate and is a ball dominant point guard. This probably makes Porzingis the third option on offense when the Knicks should be grooming him to be their lead guy.

The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 and are very eager to get back into the playoff discussion in the Eastern conference. The moves they have made have been with that in mind and have been less focused on developing their young talent. It is unclear if this is a playoff roster but it certainly is not a championship one. With the organization being in such a hurry to get in the playoffs they may have delayed the growth of their next franchise player, Kristaps Porzingis, their unicorn.

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7 comments

  1. So based on your premise, Clay Thompson’s growth will be stunted due to adding KD so they shouldn’t have signed KD…….right?

    Sounds ridiculous huh?

    Rose averaged 5 assists per game on a team where he, Jimmy Butler and Gasol were pretty much the only scoring threats . Butler is not the scorer that Melo is, KP can score in a wider variety than Gasol and Lee is a more efficient shooter than any guard on the Bulls last season. Rose’s assists should increase because he has more help than he ever has in his career.

    KP will have many more open looks than he had last season where he and Melo were the only real Knicks scoring threats.

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    • Thanks for reading, but it’s actually silly to compare those situations. Klay Thompson is going into his sixth year in the NBA and already has his role defined. He is also not asked to be face of the franchise. Whereas KP is going into his 2nd year in the league and is expected to grow into being the star for the Knicks for many years to come.

      Look at how the Thunder built their team around KD when he was drafted, they weren’t a good team so they kept drafting in the lottery and built a solid young core which grew together. Sort of what is happening in Minnesota. I know New York isn’t patient but this is going to hurt them in the long run.

      He’s not going to get as many open looks than you think, teams don’t have to really defend Noah for his offensive game so it’ll be 4 on 5 when he’s on the court. In addition, teams will go under Pick-and-Rolls with Rose and live with him shooting threes. He doesn’t have the explosion anymore to beat defenders off the dribble. So yeah, they stunted his growth. He’s going to be the 3rd option when the team should be building around him.

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  2. I think that you could make the argument that having “better” teammates, if you believe they are better, will allow Porzingis to have more success. You could also argue that he could better learn his role in a team, playing with competent teammates… You might be wrong in arguing this, but I think it’s reasonable enough to claim it.

    You’d have better luck writing an argument about how the Knicks offseason has hurt their chances of winning a championship with Porzingis, as opposed to stunting his growth… I think this is a more than a little exaggerative.

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    • Thanks for the comment, certainly appreciate it. Having better teammates that compliment his skills would make him better but a ball dominant pg trying to reclaim his form glory is not the guy.

      This should have been a transition year for them to start building around him, instead they went all in to make the playoffs and get bounced in the 1st, maybe 2nd round. Porzingis can be a top 15 player but if they reduce him to a role player this year it is stunting his growth.

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