Not all rookies, especially those labeled as long-term projects, get a spot in the lineup. But in the case of the New York Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis, it might be a wise decision throwing him into the deep end of the NBA pool right away.
It’s not like the Knicks don’t have other options. Both Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn are power forwards who can play next to Robin Lopez. Carmelo Anthony can also play the ‘4’ depending on how the Knicks are approaching their offense this season, although we’re probably going to see him stick to the small forward position.
But Porzingis gives some range and length that Williams and O’Quinn don’t which would be nice defensively and give the Knicks a certain look that might be difficult to deal with for a few minutes.
Another interesting and maybe the most important angle to this is his ability to come off the bench and influence the game. Both Williams and O’Quinn bring in more energy and explosiveness with an ability for some immediate scoring. Porzingis doesn’t have that, so while starting him means sending him to the bench pretty quickly, it gives better balance to the team and its different units.
Because next to Anthony, it might not be too much of an issue putting a me-first kind of scorer. But off the bench, with the second unit and a not too deep unit, it’s better to have players who you feel a bit more confident about their scoring.
Maybe Porzingis can develop into that kind of player which produces points no matter what on a regular basis. But being a rookie who is new to American basketball, the Knicks are expecting a lot of hardships and the usual ups and downs. Surprisingly, putting him in the team’s lineup is the best way to tackle that issue.