Incoming rookies often elicit all sorts of breathless comparisons to both current and former NBA stars. Lakers legend James Worthy joined the fray Saturday while he was broadcasting Kristaps Porzingis‘ NBA Summer League debut in Las Vegas and was so taken aback by the Latvian rookie’s modestly impressive performance that he likened him to two of the league’s biggest stars at his position.
Here’s more from Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“He’s a freak of nature. He’s a combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant,” the Hall of Famer posited, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s a good pick for the Knicks.”
That type of praise (however unjustified) is probably a welcome change from the cacophony of boos Porzingis received when the Knicks took him fourth overall in last month’s NBA Draft. Still, 12 points, three rebounds, and two blocks in Summer League action is hardly an indication of how he’ll perform once the regular season gets underway. Most experts believe the 7-foot-3 big man is at least two years away from making a meaningful contribution to an NBA team.
There are several areas he’ll have to improve on in the interim, and perhaps the most important one was exposed during his debut. Porzingis is a good athlete for his size and has good mobility, but he’ll need to add a considerable amount of muscle if he’s going to hold his own against the freakishly athletic big men he’ll face on an almost nightly basis over the course of an 82-game season.
While nobody – besides Worthy, obviously – is ready to anoint him the second coming of either of the aforementioned stars, the comparisons are easy to understand from a purely stylistic point of view. Like Dirk, Porzingis can shoot the ball from the outside, and like Durant, he can face up his opponents out on the perimeter in a surprisingly effective manner for someone his size. But it’s still far too early to tell whether he’ll have a career that remotely resembles what those two have accomplished, let alone any career at all.