How Kristaps Porzingis grew into the ‘nightmare’ NBA feared

All summer time, Kristaps Porzingis labored on getting stronger. He lifted weights. Ran. Did boxing. He needed to evolve into what Pistons coach and government Stan Van Gundy just lately predicted for him.

“He’s going to be a nightmare for years to return on this league,” Van Gundy stated.

To date this season, opponents are dropping numerous sleep over the Knicks’ 7-three Latvian. Subsequent, it’s Houston’s flip to fight him, Wednesday on the Backyard.

“A number of the stuff he does,” middle Enes Kanter middle, “we simply take a look at one another on the bench like, ‘Man, did he actually simply do this?’”

Like going up almost into the rafters to flush an offensive rebound. Or draining a three-level shot seemingly from Occasions Sq.. Porzingis, 22, has advanced frighteningly quick in his third season.

Porzingis is rising, actually and figuratively. Monday, he demolished Denver with 38 factors, scoring inside and out of doors. At his measurement, he merely shoots over everybody, though the Statue of Liberty may current issues. However he’d in all probability simply drive round what Knicks followers think about France’s second greatest present to America — proper behind Frank Ntilikina.

“The most important factor is him getting stronger, then him understanding his spots on the ground and the place we received to get him the ball,” stated Courtney Lee. “Anyplace between 15-to-10 ft on the ground, that’s his cash space. He needs to get the ball proper there. There’s nothing you possibly can do as soon as he places it above his head to shoot it. So it’s him getting stronger and with the ability to get that place then us simply with the ability to execute and get it to him on the proper time.”

There have been some good outcomes. Like 5 30-level video games within the first six of the season. No Knick — not Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing or Clyde Frazier — ever managed that. Prior to now 25 years, solely two different gamers achieved it: Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan did it final season and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo additionally did it this yr.

Measurement, power, positioning. The Knicks’ new chief, Jarrett Jack, helped the positioning. After the Knicks have been crushed in Boston by the Celtics — the one group that used aggressive double-teaming all through and snuffed Porzingis (three-of-14 capturing, 12 factors), Jack went to him. About to be inserted as the start line, Jack advised Porzingis he would get him into the right spots and get him the ball.

“It was on the aircraft. He and Willy [Hernangomez] have been having a recreation of Monopoly, however I assumed I had a much bigger…

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