- Maddie Meyer/Getty
NBA fans may see a wild sight from the New York Knicks this season.
After a defensive stop, 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis may grab the rebound and, instead of throwing an outlet to one of the team’s guards, go bounding up the court with the ball, intent to score or find an open teammate.
Speaking at the Knicks media day in White Plains, New York, the 21-year-old Latvian big man said ball handling and the ability to bring the ball up the court were two of his greatest improvements over the offseason.
“My ball handling is a lot better. I feel more comfortable pushing the ball up now, just playing pick-up ball,” Porzingis said. “I just feel comfortable with the ball now.”
When asked if the coaching staff made his ball-handling and ability to bring the ball up the court a priority this offseason, Porzingis said no and gave a hilarious explanation for his improved skills.
“Not really,” he said. “It happened because we’re playing pick-up games, and we all have the same shirt. So I don’t really know who to pass to right away. So I better not pass it – I just start pushing the ball myself, and then I can see the situation.
“That’s how it happened. It’s weird, but it helped my confidence to bring the ball up.”
Whether new Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek and his coaching staff let that happen is another issue, but it could be a scary sign for the rest of the NBA.
Porzingis flashed skills his rookie season that suggest he could be the mold of the modern NBA center – long and athletic, with the ability to stretch the floor and hit threes, defend the rim, and block shots. If he adds the ability to be a one-man fast break against slower, more prodding centers, Porzingis may be an entirely new type of big man in the NBA.
Porzingis flashed hints of these skills this offseason, showing off his improved dribbling and ability to create his own shot. Going into his second year admittedly more comfortable with the game and the NBA in general, Porzingis may be showing off a valuable new skill he took from his offseason pick-up games.