A young, promising Latvian PF has recently entered his name in the 2014 draft.
Could he be what the Suns are looking for?
As we're getting closer to the NBA Draft 2014, GMs all around the league are busy evaluating players and pondering trades. Suns' GM Ryan McDonough is no different. In fact, he probably has more work to do than some of his peers.
The Suns own as many as 3 first round picks in the upcoming draft: their own (14th), the pick they got from the Wizards in the Gortat trade (18th) and the one they got from Indiana in the Scola trade (27th). However, according to Ryan McDonough, the Suns won't be bringing 3 rookies this year. The rationale behind this is most certainly the fact that the Suns will have enough young players to develop and need guys who can contribute immediately. Nevertheless, the Suns have a lot of options and barring a trade for a star, like that Kevin guy from Minnesota, they will certainly draft one or two new players.
There are some names that recur when analyzing potential Suns targets - Adreian Payne, Nik Stauskas, Doug McDermott or KJ McDaniels. However, the player I'd like to focus on in this post is Kristaps Porzingis.
Kristaps Porzingis is an 18-year-old (8/2/95) PF currently playing for Cajasol Sevilla in the Spanish ACB. Standing somewhere between 6'11 and 7 feet, weighing around 220lbs with a 7-foot-plus wingspan, the Latvian is a physical specimen. Currently projected by DX to go 23rd, but IMO he will rise because he offers a highly sought-after package of skills and physical tools.
Here's his FIBA video profile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNDt5GIPH9c He talks about himself in English and there are some clips of him playing mixed as well. His English is really good for his age. Looks like a high-character guy, too.
Stats from Sevilla:
GP Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Ast Stl Blk TO PF
27 14.4 6.1 2.6 5.5 47.0 2.1 4.1 51.8 0.5 1.4 33.3 0.5 0.8 59.1 1.0 1.6 2.6 0.3 0.7 1.0 0.7 2.6
- mobility and athleticism
- great motor
- shooting stroke: 3pt range with quick release
Porzingis has NBA athleticism and mobility few people his size have. Often plays above the rim, gets offensive rebounds, cuts to the basket and can drive to the basket thanks to good ball-handling skills. Ability to create his own shot looks promising. He's also great in transition. He makes plays on both ends of the floor and has potential as a weakside shotblocker due to good insticts and length. He can also stretch the floor and although his 3pt shooting% doesn't wow anyone, he has great mechanics and all he needs is reps. Will be 19 when the season starts, has major upside.
- defensive rebounding
- post defence
- post game
Porzingis will struggle wherever strength is needed and he may always have problems guarding Z-Bo-like forwards (who doesn't, though), but with NBA strength program and additional experience he'll no doubt improve. He also needs to improve post-game but he projects as a versatile stretch four in the Bosh mold rather than a post banger.
Here's a great video that analyzes Kristaps' strong and weak sides.
Here's a strengths-only video:
And here's a short video from his recent 20-point outburst against Mirotic and his Real Madrid. Kristaps' shot looks improved. That dunk tho...
To sum up, Kristaps Porzingis is a very intriguing prospect who, IMHO, would flourish in Jeff Hornacek's system. He should develop into a versatile scorer and solid defender, and, in this strong draft, he may still be available when the Suns are picking. I believe he's a much better prospect than Adreian Payne and his ceiling is so high that throwing names like Bosh or Nowitzki could jinx it. Ryan McDonough should definitely take a close look at Porzingis. European frontcourt of destruction? Why not :) I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions, BrightSiders.
A few words about me: My name's Nick Klimas and I've been a part-time lurker since my fellow countryman, Marcin Gortat was traded to the Suns. I've become a full-time lurker since the 2013 summerleague and I hope to become an active and valuable member of this community. This Suns team is a joy to watch and it's time they went to the finals! You can find me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NickKlimas