(Photo via Foxsports.com)
We take a look at Latvia’s sweet shooting big man Kristaps Porzingis for our next draft prospect evaluation.
2015 NBA Draft Prospect Evaluation:
Kristaps Porzingis (19 years and 10 months old, Forward, Baloncesto Sevilla of the Spanish ACB via Liepaja, Latvia)
Video Highlights (pre-draft workout):
Great height, length and big hands, all great tools for a forward. Prozingas is listed at 7’1 and looks every bit of it. We couldn’t find measurements of Prozingas’ wingspan or standing reach but based on the recent video you can eyeball the measurements of around 7’3 and 9’4 in each area respectively.
The main and very obvious issue with Prozingas is that he is rail thin. He’s listed at anywhere from 200 to 220 and even the low number seems a bit high. It is assumed by many that packing on weight is something that can be accomplished very easily but they’ve been talking about Prozingas doing just that for the last 3 years and there doesn’t seem to be much improvement in that area. The risk here is that he possesses the type of body and metabolism that will make it extremely difficult to put on much weight which if he can’t will limit his potential in the NBA significantly at the forward position.
You don’t usually see a player that stands at 7 feet tall that can move as fluidly and jump as high as Prozingis and it is what makes him such an attractive prospect. Prozingis has great quickness and leaping ability for a player his size. In addition, he is fleet of foot and has good body control which you can see in the video where he dribbles, stops, gets good balance and pulls up for a jump shot which is common to see in a guard but not in a 7 footer.
Low Post Offense:
Nonexistent. A good part of a low post game for a big man is getting good low post position which will be almost impossible to obtain for Porzingis with his wiry and frail 200 pound body which isn’t going to back down most guards in the NBA let alone forwards and centers. In his time playing internationally he has done little work in the low post outside of put backs or clear lanes to the basket so you would expect the same in the NBA until he puts on some weight and muscle. A positive here is that most NBA offensive systems de-emphasize low post play or don’t feature a player that plays out of the low post so his lack of low post skill or ability might be insignificant.
Outside Shooting Ability:
It is Porzingis’ shooting ability combined with his size that has most mock drafts projecting him in the top 5 of the upcoming NBA draft. Porzingis has a smooth, mechanically sound shot with a high release which will make getting that shot off over defenders very easy. He is more than just a spot up shooter as he can hit shots moving left or right which is ideal for coming off screens, and can pull up off the dribble.
The concern here is that while our eyes tell us Porzingis is a pure, natural shooter, the results don’t correspond to what we see. Last season for Baloncesto Sevilla of the Spanish ACB Porzingis shot 75 percent from the free throw line and 36 percent from 3 which are very respectable numbers but not quite what you would expect from a player with such a smooth shooting touch and the advantage of his great height, length and high release.
How is he going to score in the NBA:
Porzingis is going to live on the outside initially, until he can put on some weight and muscle to do more work inside. He is the prototypical stretch 4 that can camp out behind the arc, bring the opposing team’s forward out and open up the inside. The added ability to put the ball on the floor and hit shots off the dribble and on the move in catch-and-shoot plays will make him an even bigger threat to score and make any offense more dynamic.
Do not expect him to take shots all the way to rim. While he has the handle and first step to get by defenders and make his way inside, he doesn’t have the strength to finish with contact or repertoire of shots around the basket to be successful in this manner; also, he has shown an unwillingness to take on contact and his toughness has been questioned which both would point to not being effective inside.
Low Post Defense:
With his great length and quickness Porzingis can develop into a very good weak side defender and become distributive as the secondary defender in the post. Again, due to his lack of body weight and strength he will not be able to hold his position in the post against most forwards and will be a defensive liability if matched up against a strong forward with a low post game, such as a David West or Zach Randolph.
Defending the pick-and-roll:
Quick feet, long arms and athleticism will allow Porzingis to be very effective at defending the pick-and-roll with his ability to come out hard and switch to the ball handler if needed.
Potential to become an above average rim protector. The combination of length, quickness and athleticism will allow Porzingis to be distributive at the rim; however, mainly as the weak side defender and not the primary defender where he will get backed down or taken out of the play due to his lack of strength. Porzingis has not excelled in his area during his time playing internationally.
Well below average for a power forward. Rebounding will be Porzingis biggest challenge in the NBA, even more than defense where he can make great use of his length and athleticism. The lack of strength and willingness to bang is what has and continue to keep him from producing on the glass. Porzingis averaged just 4.6 rebounds per game in 21.4 minutes and had a 14.1 rebounding percentage last season for Baloncesto Sevilla. We would expect his already low rebounding numbers to go down in the NBA where he will face bigger and stronger competition at the forward position.
Currently poor and questionable ability to get better in the overall passing area. The assists numbers are staggering in Porzingis’ international career and not in a good way. Porzingis averaged 0.54 assists last season for Sevilla and that was actually a decline from his time for the junior team of Sevilla in the 2011-12 season where he averaged 1.0 assist per game. Combine the low assists numbers with high turnover rate Porzingis decision making is understandably in question. Last season for Baloncesto Sevilla his assists-to-turnover ratio was atrocious, totaling 27 assists to 71 turnovers which is a ratio of 0.38; for perspective, last season that would have ranked 8th worst in the NBA, tied with Enes Kanter. Playing in the much tougher NBA, you would expect those numbers to go down even more.
Basketball IQ and intangibles:
Questionable. Poor decision making, aversion to contact and lack of toughness are all criticisms of Porzingis’ game. There is no doubt that Porzingis possess some great physical tools and skill, but he is sorely lacking in the basketball IQ and intangibles department which keeps him from being that sure bet prospect and why there will be some pause from teams picking him at the top of the draft.
On the positive end Porzingis is still only 19 and has room to grow as he learns the game. Porzingis speaks English very well so his learning curve as he transitions to the NBA will not be near as steep as other international players in the past.
Projected draft position:
Projected position in the NBA:
Comparable NBA player:
I’ve seen the comparisons of Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki but I think those are far-reaching and unfair; I also don’t see a comparison in terms of skill set or personality with either player. At this time I think a better comparison is a taller, longer, more athletic Ryan Anderson sans the rebounding ability.