In a recent interview with ESPN New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson commented on his 2015 draft pick Kristaps Porzingis.
Speaking as part of a series of articles, the Knicks GM commented on how Porzingis drew comparisons with former NBA player Shawn Bradley.
"Like Shawn Bradley, who was nevertheless a pretty good player, KP might almost be too tall for the game."
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"What I mean is that his core strength might never be good enough, and that he might not be able to get low enough to get himself into prime defensive position to body power rebounders or drivers," Jackson added.
Porzingis, a native of Latvia, joins the NBA after gaining experience playing in the Euro League with Spanish side CB Sevilla. Standing at an incredible 7'1 he entered the 2015 draft as a bit of an unknown commodity with some scouts raving about the 20-year-old while others did not rate him as being taken in the first round. Based on this his selection with the fourth pick by the Knicks was met with great scrutiny.
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Porzingis has taken all of the scrutiny in his stride however and Jackson's comments seem to have only added to the Latvian's motivation. Speaking in an interview with the New York Daily News the power forward responded to Jackson's comments.
“Yeah I saw it. I don’t know what to say. I guess that’s what Phil does, gets us to work hard and fired up. That fired me up. I’m like, ‘I’m not Shawn Bradley,’ you know? I want to be better than Shawn Bradley obviously and be stronger than him but I’m a different player.”
Shawn Bradley entered the league in 1992 as the second overall pick in the draft. Standing even taller than Porzingis at 7'6 and hailing from Germany it is clear where Jackson's comparisons come from. Bradley was often awkward to watch at times due to his massive height and slim frame.
With career averages of eight points per game and four rebounds per game he hardly set the basketball world alight, but he did offer some valuable contributions during his time in the NBA.
Porzingis has clearly taken Jackson's comments well and will use them as motivation going forward on how to improve his game. It is far too early to comment on whether or not Porzingis can reach the heights of other European NBA greats such as Dirk Nowitzki or whether he will be reduced to a role player like Bradley.
It will be interesting however to watch his career unfold as one of the most highly scrutinized players in the draft playing for one of the most scrutinized teams in the league.