SLAM Top 50: Kristaps Porzingis, No. 23

It’s been quite the offseason for Kristaps Porzingis.

It started with a bang when he blew off his Knicks exit meeting and hopped on a plane to Latvia.

He trained with Dirk Nowitzki in South Africa.

He led his country in EuroBasket, with averages of 23.6 points, 5.9 boards and 1.9 blocks (tournament leader).

He did not get traded for Kyrie Irving.

And now he’s back in the States just in time for Knicks training camp on Monday.

As the centerpiece of the Knicks’ young core, Porzingis is expected to become the team’s No. 1 option at some point this season.

New York likely won’t be very good, but they’re finally ditching the Triangle for an offense that caters to Porzingis’ playing style.

And let’s talk about that playing style, which is very much “unicornian.”

At 7-3, he can get a shot off over nearly everyone—and he does it proficiently in the post, mid-range and three.

He’s not afraid of contact, and will use his length to try to bang on defenders in the paint.

Defensively, he’s an active shot-blocker and has enough agility to effectively guard the pick-and-roll.

And did we mention his demeanor? He loves the game, he’s a student, a constant practitioner of the craft.

Because of this, pressure rarely affects his play. He relishes in the opportunity to prove anyone who doubts him wrong.

He’s got a bit of that Iverson/young Melo swag, from around the time when KP had braids himself (bring them back KP!).

He may or may not have beef with Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, but c’mon, things are looking up with a competent front office and a straightforward plan.

And they have Porzingis. Who makes the future look a whole lot brighter.

Previous Rankings:
2016: No. 37
2015: Not Ranked

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap
No. 37 — Hassan Whiteside
No. 36 — Andrew Wiggins
No. 35 — Marc Gasol
No. 34 – DeAndre Jordan
No. 33 — Bradley Beal
No. 32 — Kemba Walker
No. 31 — CJ McCollum
No. 30 — Devin Booker
No. 29 — Nikola Jokic
No. 28 — Joel Embiid
No. 27 — Mike Conley
No. 26 — Kyle Lowry
No. 25 — Rudy Gobert

No. 24 — Gordon Hayward