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