What can Kristaps Porzingis Do for an Encore?

A Shocking Rookie Year Sets a High Bar

Knicks‘ president Phil Jackson raised more than a few eyebrows when he made Lativian prospect Kristaps Porzingis the fourth pick in the 2015 draft. The Knicks needed immediate help, and observers thought Porzingis was too raw, skinny, and inexperienced to make an immediate contribution.

But Jackson and Porzingis proved the naysayers wrong, as the 7-3 forward turned in a campaign that saw him finish as runner up for Rookie of The Year honors. It’s a campaign that has Knicks’ fan drooling over Porzingis’s future potential and wondering what he’ll do for an encore. So what’s the next step for this Latvian phenom? How can he top last year’s performance?

Can More Diversity Make for Team Success?

With newcomer Derrick Rose now in the fold, anything less than the playoffs will be a bust for the Knicks this season. Porzingis’s ability to contribute to a team in playoff contention will be the biggest barometer of his individual success. He’ll need help of course, but Porzingis will have to mesh well with Rose and new coach Jeff Hornacek‘s system to maximize his development.

Fortunately for Knicks’ fans, Hornacek and his staff have been designing offensive sets that can exploit the mismatches Porzingis creates for opposing big men. Hornacek wants to utilize Porzingis’s incredible shooting range by increasing his usage in pick and pop scenarios. This will, in turn, afford Porzings more opportunities to be the roll man going toward the basket.

If Porzingis can thrive in these pick and roll scenarios, he will be a nightmare matchup all over the court. He will also be able to free up room for Carmelo Anthony and his possession saving isolation plays.

And with an off season emphasis on defensive footwork and positioning, Porzingis looks to add to his 1.9 block shots per game. These two components alone will catapult the Knicks into the playoffs and make Porzingis a viable All-Star candidate.