The “man of mystery” description has been thrown around far too often about Kristaps Porzingis. Many act as if he is some sort of unknown, and perhaps he still is to the casual fan.
But NBA executives and draftniks have been well aware of the 19-year-old for quite some time. Having worked out in front of 150 NBA executives on Friday morning, he will be a household name sooner rather than later.
The 7-1 forward was the headliner of the ASM Sports Pro Day held at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. Fresh off of completing his second full season in the ACB with Sevilla, he made his way to the States to put in work with Joe Abunassar, Drew Moore and Co. before what will be his only audition for NBA teams.
Adding a few new weapons to his arsenal and getting adjusted to the NBA ball (far different than the one he played with in Spain), the Latvian sensation was ready to show out to the League.
“I think that I showed my range and how big I am in person,” the monstrous Porzingis confidently said following the workout. “I’m 7-1 with good mobility, am pretty quick for my size, and have good athleticism. I’m really long and can block shots on defense, too.”
There was a definite sense of modesty in Porzingis’ voice, but to keep it real, he killed it. NBA scouts threw around the D-word (Dirk) like it was going out of style, though he said he patterns his game after Anthony Davis and KG. You just don’t see legit 7-footers who can shoot and move the way that he can.
Going through a lot of pick-and-pop drills, the trainers put his talents as a face-up power forward on full display. Kristaps drilled NBA threes with a smooth, crisp release. He hit one-dribble pull-ups off of the bounce from mid-range. When he makes a second move, he can softly hit you with a pull-up off the glass. He showed off a devastating first step when attacking the rim. That’s not even mentioning what he did once he got to the rim.
In today’s age of finishing over the top of people, Porzingis fits right in as a new age power forward because of his explosive leaping ability. There were a number of times in which he nearly got his head to the rim on the dunks that followed his drives to the basket. Chopping it up with SLAM afterward, Porzingis told us that he was determined to show scouts that he could jump with some of the best in this year’s Draft.
“I’m not the stiff European that everyone thinks I am,” he said with a chuckle.
While there were so many things that took your breath away, it is imperative to remember that he still needs to add substantial weight to his frame if he hopes to make a huge impact on the defensive end.
On the offensive side, while he is a beast facing the cup, Porzingis didn’t show a ton from the low post in this workout or the film that I have watched online. No one who watches him thinks that he is a finished product, but don’t expect him to come in and drop 20 a night as a rook either.
Having met with the Lakers, Jazz, Blazers, Timberwolves, and three other teams that he wouldn’t specify, it’s safe to say that things are looking pretty good for Kristaps Porzingis. The level of intrigue he offers brought Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher, Stan Van Gundy, Flip Saunders, and an abundance of others to Vegas.
His brother Janis has been guiding him along throughout this process and is perfectly fluid (engaging, in fact) in English. He is five years removed from his home and is already a pro, albeit a young one. After testing the waters and reportedly receiving a promise in the late lottery last year, he’s now a dark horse for the No. 1 pick in the Draft.
There will certainly be some growing pains, but the simply unique blend of size, skill and athleticism that Kristaps Porzingis brings to the table should make him special in the NBA.
Previous NBA Pre-Draft Tour Videos: