Porzingis' lone stat ri­val? Only a young LeBron can com­pare

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Kristaps

Porzingis and LeBron James are in an elite club. They're the only play­ers in NBA his­tory to amass 1,000 re­bounds, 150 made 3s and 100 blocks in their first two sea­sons. The list of play­ers who've com­piled 2,000 points, 1,000 re­bounds, 250 blocks and 100 made 3-point­ers in their first two sea­sons is even smaller.

It's only Porzingis. That's it. Maybe it's that unique pro­file -- a never-seen-be­fore blend of height, shoot­ing and shot-block­ing -- that has landed Porzingis at No. 22 in ESPN's #NBArank. Does he de­serve to be ranked in the top 25 at this point in his ca­reer? That's cer­tainly up for de­bate. Porzingis is sur­rounded by the likes of Klay Thomp­son (19), Gor­don Hayward (20), Mike Con­ley (23) and Blake Grif­fin (24) on the list. Rea­son­able peo­ple can dis­agree as to whether he de­serves to be in the same sen­tence as those stars. His num­bers last sea­son were solid (18.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG) but not spec­tac­u­lar.

But if the 22-year-old makes the kind of leap that the Knicks are hop­ing for this sea­son, his rank­ing might seem more ap­pro­pri­ate in a few months. Porzingis made sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in field goal per­cent­age and pergame scor­ing from Year 1 to Year 2, so there's rea­son to be­lieve he can make a sim­i­lar jump this sea­son. Can he make the kind of jump that puts him in the league's 95th per­centile? That prob­a­bly de­pends on his peck­ing or­der in the Knicks' of­fense. Last year, Porzingis ranked third in us­age be­hind Carmelo An­thony and Der­rick Rose. It seems, at this point, as if An­thony will be with the Knicks through at least the early part of the sea­son. And as long as An­thony is in New York, Porzingis won't be the Knicks' clear No. 1 scor­ing op­tion.

That idea might up­set some Knicks fans who want to see a slow re­build around Porzingis and the young core in New York. But there are peo­ple around the league who be­lieve that Porzingis could be bet­ter off play­ing with An­thony -or another No. 1 scorer -- for at least one more sea­son.

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