Meet Big Ben’s new first option
When the New York Knicks traded their injured star Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in January for draft picks, spare parts and expiring contracts, the reaction around the NBA was almost universal: “Huh?”
Indeed, New York didn’t appear to be getting near the value expected for the talented tall forward taken fourth overall in the 2015 draft, especially since the resulting cap space didn’t yield any names like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard over the summer. So the Knicks will just go on being the Knicks – a franchise in perpetual chaos that free agents avoid.
But in Porzingis, the Mavs are getting a true blue chip player who hasn’t yet fully tapped his enormous potential. He was on his way in 2017-18, his third year in the league, when he rang up per-game averages of 22.7 points on 43.9 percent shooting, to go with 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 48 games.
But then in a Feb. 6 game against the Milwaukee Bucks, he fell awkwardly and tore his left ACL, thus ending his season and keeping him out all of 2018-19. After requesting a trade, he was swapped to Dallas in early 2019.
Now healthy and packing extra muscle on his slender 7-feet-3-inch frame courtesy of grueling summer workouts, Porzingis is ready to team with second-year sensation Luka Doncic to give Dallas a formidable 1-2 front court punch.
Name: Kristaps Porzingis
Birth date: Aug. 2, 1995
Birthplace: Liepaja, Latvia
Height/weight: 7 feet, 3 inches/240 pounds
Teams: Sevilla of the Spanish league ACB (2011-15); New York Knicks (2015-18); Dallas Mavericks (2019-present)
Draft: Taken in the first round (fourth overall) by the Knicks in 2015
Position: Power forward/center
Honors and achievements: NBA All-Star (2018); NBA All-Rookie First Team (2016); EuroCup Rising Star (2015); ACB All-Young Players Team (2014, 2015)