Kristaps Porzingis | PF | Latvia – New York Knicks
With ESPN’s Andy Katz reporting that the 76ers are keeping Okafor, you have to assume that the Knicks were pretty ill. It seemed as if the stars were aligned for Okafor to land in Phil Jackson’s lap. Instead, Jackson decided to go with Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian big man with the potential to be the next Dirk Nowitzki … or Darko Milicic. Porzingis is skilled, can shoot, runs like a guard and has plenty of personality. Knicks fans were livid at Barclays Center. They booed. They gave thumbs down gestures. One little boy looked like he wanted to cry. Porzingis knows how many busts have been taken in the top five but he decided to declare, “I’m different.” Carmelo Anthony sure hopes so. – Michael Lee
What he brings: The 7-foot-1 Latvian is no mystery prospect. NBA teams have been waiting for Porzingis to enter the league for years. Imagine Dirk with a more mechanical sound jump shot. Whether spotting up or coming off screens, where, according to Synergy Sports, he has connected on 53 percent of his jumpers, Porzingis excels at spacing the floor. There have been whispers that his body can’t stand up now to an 82 game slate, but Porzingis represents the natural evolution of the 4 – a 19 year old with a seasoned pick and pop game. – Matthew Giles
Phil Jackson has been adamant about wanting to do things his way as president of the Knicks. So when it came to the N.B.A draft and his first opportunity to make a first-round selection, he maintained that he was not going to be swayed by public opinion or television draftniks or the potential reaction of the team’s long-suffering fans.
On Thursday night, the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-foot-1 forward from Latvia who was an unknown — at least to everyone but the most plugged-in observers of European talent — until about a month ago. And while the pick was roundly booed by Knicks fans in attendance at Barclays Center, Jackson said it was to be expected, not that he cared.
“I think our fans are going to like him,” Jackson said at the team’s training complex. “The reaction of the crowd is what you anticipate in New York, and he’s aware of it.”