Just three weeks into his rookie season with the New York Knicks, the 7-foot-3 20-year-old's popularity has gone through the roof. With a career high of 29 points for the rookie, the crowd was chanting his name.
As a result, the league has completely sold out of Porzingiz jerseys.
Early in his career, even during the pre-season, some coaches were already belittling the Latvian player. He was even skipped by the Lakers during draft, according to Coach Byron Scott, "it was going to take him some time [to develop]."
these criticisms did not hinder Porzingis to show off his move and prove why he should play in the NBA. He himself was even cognizant of the said reviews about him, but he never expected the drastic positive impact of those criticisms on his performance.
Once considered too young, too thin and maybe too European in style to contribute right away, Porzingis has become one of the best players on a much-improved team.
Just 17-65 last season, the Knicks are 6-6 following their 102-94 victory over Charlotte, when Porzingis added 11 rebounds.
“It’s just one game. I want to keep doing this. Melo is doing this for every game,” Porzingis said. “So the easy part is to play one game like that, the hard part to keep playing at this level.”
Few thought he would before the season. He carried just 233 pounds on his 7-foot-3 frame when he was drafted and had the look of a player who would be pushed around before he learned to push back.
He was taken with the No. 4 pick because of his promise and potential, a 3-point shooter with center size who drew comparisons to fellow Europeans Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol. But the Latvian had no interest in taking too long to show why he was here.
Porzingis admitted, via NY Daily News, that, "Yes I was. Everyone said I was a project, a few years. I will get better in a few years, but I'm ready to play right now. I wasn't expecting it to be right now."
Long and athletic, Porzingiz was already capable of doing astonishing things on the court. The foundation was there, and then Porzingiz wanted more. And now he got it.