If you thought that Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis would be this good this soon you are a damn dirty liar. But here we are, and just a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Porzingis has gone from project to superstar in record time. Last night, Porzingis got his first crack at his childhood idol and a player he was most favorably compared to before he came into the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki. Not only did the young Porzingis live up to the billing, he’s surpassing it.
“It’s more than fair,” Nowitzki said after his first game against the Knicks rookie. “He’s probably way ahead of the curve. When I was 20, I was scared to death out there. … He’s almost averaging a double-double, so he’s way better than I was at 20. So the comparison’s probably unfair to me.” Although the Knicks went down 104-97 against the red-hot Mavericks, Porzingis had a game-high 28 points on 13-for-18 shooting for the Knicks. Most dramatically, Porzingis scored 12 of his 28 in the fourth quarter where he helped cut a 23-point lead for the Mavericks to four.
“He’s for real,” Nowitzki said to the press after scoring a team-high 25 points for the Mavericks . “We’ve said it before. He’s tougher than you think. He’s long. He’s athletic. He can put the ball on the floor. … The sky’s the limit for this kid, not only because he’s good but also because I heard he lives and breathes basketball. He stays in the gym, he works hard and doesn’t let all this hype here get to his head. You’ve [got] to root for him.”
Porzingis is averaging close to 15 points, 9 rebounds and almost 2 blocks per game for the Knicks, and has quickly turned into one of the most popular players in the entire NBA. He was also recently named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.
“Obviously, he’s showing some respect to me. That shows me that maybe I have the potential to one day be as great as he is,” Porzingis said about Nowitzki after the game. “I’ve got to keep working, and hopefully, I can be as good as he thinks I can be.”
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