Kristaps Porzingis has been playing some impressive defense this season
The development of New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis has been one of the better stories in the NBA this season. The Latvian product went from being booed after getting selected with the 4th overall pick in the draft to becoming a fan favorite. It did not take long for Knicks fans to become big supporters of the rookie, as he has been making highlight plays throughout the season. These memorable plays include countless put-back dunks, smooth jumpers, and crafty post moves on offense. Although his offensive game gets plenty of recognition, Porzingis rarely receives the credit that he deserves for his high level of play on the defensive end of the floor.
Kristaps has been putting up some impressive numbers on defense so far this season. For starters, the rookie’s 72 blocks are the 6th-highest total in the league. Porzingis is averaging 1.9 blocks along with 0.7 steals per game. In addition, Porzingis is averaging 7.9 rebounds per game, which ranks him at second in the category amongst rookies. Out of all of his defensive qualities, Porzingis definitely best makes his presence felt when it comes to blocking/altering opponents’ shots. Porzingis’ 72 blocks this season do not tell the whole story though. This is because even when the rookie does not block an opponent’s shot, his opponents statistically shoot worse when they try scoring on him. Kristaps holds his opponents to shooting just 46.7% at the rim, which is the 7th-best among starting power forwards. Look at the chart below to further see just how effective Porzingis has been on defense thus far into the season, per NBA.com.
|Less than 6 feet||-11.3%|
|Less than 10 feet||-9.1%|
|Greater than 15 feet|| 0.8%|
The Diff% measures the shooter’s average field goal percentage as well as the field goal percentage when the defensive player (in this case Porzingis) is guarding the shooter. When this percentage is a negative number it indicates that the defensive player is making his opponent shoot at a lower percentage than they are accustomed to shooting. The fact that Porzingis is holding his defenders to a -11.3 Diff% is extremely impressive, and actually has him ranked at third-best in the league in that statistic.
Now look at the diagrams below to see how Porzingis’ shot blocking numbers compare to those of a couple of the NBA’s best shot blockers, per ESPN.com.
Porzingis’ stellar play on defense has even impressed his coach.
“He has all the skills necessary to shoot the shot from the perimeter, to post up, but what we like about him the most is that he pursues the basketball. He challenges shots at the rim,” said Knicks coach Derek Fisher.
It is one thing to describe the areas in which Porzingis excels on defense, but watching his highlights makes it more apparent just how effective the talented rookie has been on at altering opponents’ shots. Just watch the video below to see for yourself.
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