Fizdale holds the keys to Porzingis’ stardom

The New York Knicks have had a revolving door of coaches since Mike D’Antoni left in 2012, but David Fizdale may have the key to stop the door. He is the right coach that can take Kristaps Porzingis’ game to another level, especially his post game. He is a more athletic version of Marc Gasol and Fizdale’s experience with Gasol should open the door to take Porzingis into stardom once he comes back from injury.

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Kristaps Porzingis standing at 7’3’, weighing 240 pounds should be a beast in the post but no one has been able to consistently put him in the right position. Last season prior to tearing his ACL Porzingis had a point per possession 0.96. That is a good number but KP does not usually do a great job establishing deep post position. Because of it, he has to convert on some difficult shots, which he converted only 43.4% on those shots.

Even when he has a smaller guy defending him like Tony Snell, he still posts up closer to the three-point line than the paint, even though he made the shot it was one with a high degree of difficulty. Again after the Knicks run an action (KP was wide open) Porzingis gave up prime real estate in the paint. He posted up outside of the mid-post area when he should be on the low block. He settled again for a tough fadeaway over Giannis Antetokounmpo. Porzingis is making things harder for himself in the post then needs to be.

Fizdale proved with the Memphis Grizzlies he could get his post players the ball in great spots with a lot of his actions. Against the San Antonio Spurs, they run through all their options and the play ends with Gasol posting up. He positioned himself in the low post so when he settled for a fadeaway, this one is much closer than Porzingis’ attempts.

Fizdale’s creativity really shined at the end of this game; after Gasol set a screen to bring a shooter to the corner, he came off a screen that he’ll curl off of and get to the mid-post. The clever part of the play is that this action forced the screener’s man to have to bump Gasol just for a second so his teammate to catch up to Gasol meanwhile the screener is setting another screen for Zach Randolph to get to the low post and there is no help there which made for an easy bucket for Randolph.

Of course, the personnel will be different with the Knicks but this play is easily replicable with Porzingis and Enes Kanter capable of playing either role, more likely using KP as the decoy.

Another great action that Fizdale ran in Memphis to get Gasol the ball in the post and on the move at the same time, as Mike Conley came off a high Pick-and-Roll, Vince Carter set a cross screen for Gasol that allowed him to get an easy look while on the move. With Porzingis’ athleticism and speed, he could get all the way to the rim with this type of action.

A key aspect of coaching is being able to put your players in positions to succeed, in his short tenure in Memphis, Fizdale did just that. He got Gasol to go from barely ever shooting threes to averaging 3.6 attempts, he turned playing two big men as an advantage with clever play actions. Porzingis has played for three coaches already and when he returns from his ACL injury, he’ll be playing for his fourth, in Fizdale though he might have found the coach with the key to unlock superstardom for him starting with how he’ll attack in the post.

Memphis’ loss is the Knicks’ and Porzingis’ gain.

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Related Article Notes:

  • All Stats from NBA.com/Stats
  • Photo Credit: Associated Press

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