USA TODAY Sports
Despite the All-Star histories of teammates Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, Kristaps Porzingis is the unquestioned star of the New York Knicks right now. He’s certainly the most beloved by fans at Madison Square Garden, and he’s getting the most All-Star buzz this year.
To be the center of a team that’s in playoff contention is impressive for a 21-year-old player, but according to one NBA scout, it’s also too demanding.
“[The Knicks] are draining Kristaps, putting more minutes on him than anyone. Physically he grew in the offseason. It’s a tremendous amount of strain on new material — ligaments, tendons, knee joints for a big guy. It’s unbelievable stress on his body.’’
Porzingis is averaging 34.8 minutes a game, exactly the kind of number you’d expect from a primary scoring option and one of the best defenders on the team. But while his athletic 7’3 frame allows him to be that sort of player, it also is necessarily more susceptible to stress injuries than a smaller — or more human — body. Porzingis’ body isn’t set in stone yet at 21, and it’s imperative for the Knicks to protect him for their long-term success.
But look again at the names above — Melo, Rose and Noah. Those are stars at various points in their careers, but all on the wrong side of their prime. They are win-now sort of players, but they also collectively aren’t good enough to win anything — with Porzingis wearing down with dips in his percentages in December, they’ve dropped five in a row and sit at 16-18.
Phil Jackson, who acquired Rose and Noah and is more or less stuck with Carmelo, is clearly himself in a win-now mode, which means they’re depending on Porzingis to lead the team. He may have the skills, but if the wear-and-tear causes a major leg or back injury, he may be yet another big man with a star-crossed career. The article is harsher than it needs to be (it is New York, after all), but Porzingis’ workload is an issue that needs to be taken seriously.
(Via New York Post)