You Can’t Predict The Future: Kristaps Porzingis Edition

Guest Post By Alex Knapp

Let’s play a little game.

Below are 5 different unnamed players, and their stats for their rookie season.
Now don’t cheat – but one of them is Kristaps Porzingis. I SAID DON’T CHEAT. 

(Player 1)

MPG 34.3,  PPG 16.1, APG 2.8,  RPG 2.6, SPG 1,   BPG 0.4, FG% .456, 3pt% .389

(Player 2)
MPG 27.4,  PPG 13.1, APG 1.1,  RPG 8.1, SPG 0.8, BPG 2.0, FG% .431, 3pt% .316

(Player 3)
MPG 37.2,  PPG 20.1, APG 5.8,  RPG 5.3, SPG 1.5, BPG 0.4, FG% .458, 3pt% .255

(Player 4)
MPG 25.1,  PPG 11.6, APG 0.8,  RPG 3.9, SPG 0.5, BPG 0.8, FG% .427, 3pt% .373 

(Player 5)
MPG 22.1,  PPG 9.0,   APG 0.4,  RPG 5.0, SPG 0.3, BPG 1.2, FG% .503, 3pt% .000

So why am I doing this?

I’m trying to prove a couple points (I’ll reveal who each player is in a second). First let me say, I personally, as a self-indoctrinated basketball analyst,  put a large emphasis on statistics. I actually do think they matter.

I love advanced metrics, and I think you CAN get almost as much from diving into a team or players game data as you can watching the actual game. Calm down I said “almost.” By the way this is my favorite website right now –  GO BUCK WILD!

I believe that good players produce positive statistics for them and their team(Al Jefferson), the best players can do this at an extremely high level while still being super efficient (Steph Curry). And worse players fall short in one of those two categories. This is how you can have a guy who scores a lot, but still “sucks balls.”

SIDE NOTE: A guy like Andrew Wiggins doesn’t “suck balls” but he is 16th in PPG, while being 72nd in offensive efficiency in the NBA. That’s the largest disparity of any of top 30 NBA ppg leaders.

That would tell me that Wiggins probably takes a ton of hard shots, Iso’s way to much, doesn’t get easy scores, and generally isn’t ready for the alpha-dog role that he’s been pushed into on such a young team. Andrew Wiggins being forced to be the T-Wolves best player/scorer is the reason they are 11-16, although I think that team has a ton of talent and could be great in a couple years.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

Player 1 = Eric Gordon.

Played a ton of minutes his rookie year, scored well, generally filled up the stat sheet, shot very well from the 3pt line – especially for a rookie.

Player 2 = Kristaps Porzingis.

Decent scoring (although not anything special, especially for being the 2nd option (green light) on a shit team in the east). By far the best rebounder of the list. 2 blocks per game is solid. Shooting percentages are okay

Player 3 = Tyreke Evans.

Played a Metric fuck-ton of minutes. Great scorer. He gets assists (cuz he had the ball a ton), great rebounder for his size and position. Good FG%, shit 3pt %.
Had by far the best per 36 minute stats of everyone. Won rookie of the year (deserved it).

Player 4 = Andrea Bargnani.

Scored okay, underwhelming rebound numbers, didn’t do much else, shooting %’s are solid.

Player 5 = Lamarcus Aldridge.

Played least amount of minute of the 5, scoring was nothing special, rebounded okay – not great, good field goal percentage.

So looking at those stats, here is how these players would rank from best to worst:

1) Tyreke Evans
2) Eric Gordon OR Kristaps Porzingis
4) Andrea Bargnani
5) Lamarcus Aldridge. 

Do you think anyone predicted Lamarcus Aldridge would turn into a perennial all-star? He became a franchise cornerstone that at one point was a top 10 player in the NBA, and arguably the best player at his position, certainly the most skilled.

Conversely what do you think the media / fans reaction to Tyreke’s rookie season stats was?

Here’s a quote – “He’s going to be the hero for the Sacramento Kings.” WELL THAT WAS FUCKING WRONG, RIGHT?
Read this article for a look at the Tyreke hype:

So here is a fact, stats collected during a rookie season are not indicative of the number of all-star games, all NBA teams, or MVP’s that players will win.

However, they are usually a predictor of at least general future statistics and NBA aptitude. All the players above are at the very least solid NBA rotation players–if not starters, with Larmarcus being a perennial all-star.

I like to think of it as – “Do you even belong in this league / in the starting lineup?” test.
That’s probably the only thing someone can really get from a rookie campaign.

Ultimately, players that get an opportunity to play significant minutes and get offense touches on shit teams, put up numbers. And while Andrea Bargnani has never produced to the level that Toronto wanted with their #1 pick, he’s been in the league for 10 years, had a couple decent scoring seasons in Toronto, and still gets minutes at 30 years old. The guy is nowhere near the big bust people make him out to be.

Speaking of Bargnani – notice anything interesting from the stats above?
How about the fact that Porgingis is just a better rebounding Bargnani. HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT!???

In fact, the only thing that stands out statistically about Porzingis is his rebounding. He seems to be a pretty special offensive rebounder (top 15 in ORPG and OffRebRate), while also being a solid defensive rebounder (top 35 in DRPG and DefRebRate).

Of course the SportsCenter highlights would lead you to believe he’s one of the best put-back rebounders/shot blockers of all time. All this being said, Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) is close behind in offensive rebounds, while essentially shitting on him in every other statistical category.

Listen: this guy is good–fuck he was a top 3 pick in the pick in the NBA draft. A ton of analysts said he would be good. Anyone who watched summer league or youtube clips knew he could shoot and was long as hell.

Really when you think about it, it was all the Knicks fans who were furious that they took him at #3. It was all the Knicks fans and NY media that doubted his ability. And now that he is playing well (he is literally playing  pretty fucking average), itis all the Knicks fans that are freaking out (to relatively normal numbers all things considered).

There are only a handful of cities/markets/teams that could lower the expectations of their own player by fan and media criticisms, only to yell “fuck you all, I told you!” once the player exceeds those lower expectations.

It’s kind of genius when you think about it. Let’s always say our players are going to suck, so if they do suck we’re right, and if they are good we can be pissed off that people said they sucked (even though it was us). Only in New York, these people are assholes.

P.S – Here is the last time this happened in NY.



Alex Knapp is a Portlander living in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years.
A filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills, Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. 

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