NBA Draft DEFCON 1: Porzingis is "very much Kevin Durant-like"

By Jason McIntyre
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I believe we’ve hit DEFCON 1 in the Kristaps Porzingis discussion, just three days before the NBA Draft: There’s now a comparison of the Latvian to Kevin Durant.

Made by a human. Who actually plays basketball! At a high level!

Marcus Landry, a former Wisconsin forward, played on the same team in Spain two years ago as Porzingis, and last year played against him. Here’s his effusive praise of Porzingis in the Journal Times:

“Honestly, I think Kristaps should be the No. 1 pick if you’re going to base it off potential,” Landry said. “I personally think he’s the best kid in the draft. And I’m not saying that because he’s a friend of mine.

“I know basketball. I’ve been in the NBA; I’ve been around NBA players. I’d tell you if he sucks. But he’s really good. If he goes beyond No. 2, that would be a mistake on some team’s part.”

“That’s very hard to do,” Landry said. “To me, there’s no one in the NBA like him. No one. But, if I had to compare him to anybody based on his potential, I would say — maybe he’s not going to fill it up as much — it would be Kevin Durant. He’s very much KD like.

“I know that’s saying a lot. But Kristaps can shoot over guys, he can put the ball on the floor for a big guy, he can pass well. Things Kevin Durant can do.”

Is this Jan Vesely all over again? Surely you remember Vesely – polished 21-year old who played international ball and was scooped up in 2011 by the Wizards 6th overall, five spots ahead of Washington State junior Klay Thompson. Vesely was compared to Dirk frequently right around the draft – the Mavs had just won a Title – but did nothing and is already out of the league.

A cursory twitter search revealed these tweets from 2011:

Nba finals effect? RT @AndyGlockner: Awesome. On the radio before, @ryenarussillo referred to Jan Vesely as "a whiter Dirk."

— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) June 23, 2011

It is a fool’s errand to compare the league Porzingis was in vs the league Vesely was in. With the European players, I think it really boils down to the adjustment these guys make coming from overseas to the NBA. Not just physically, but even moreso, mentally. I’m sticking with this prediction: Porzingis falls to Orlando with the 5th pick.

Remember how difficult the adjustment was when you left high school for college? Now take a teenage European kid, put him in America, put him in the rigorous NBA, where he’s taking multiple flights a week for 5+ months, probably sitting on the bench for days (weeks?) on end, and let me know how difficult that’s going to be on his psyche. Let’s toss in a D-League trip for good measure.

Oh, and since he’s going to a bad team, let’s give him two coaches in his first five years. How’s that going to help his player development?

Five years from now, are we more likely to be talking about Porzingis as Kevin Durant? Jan Vesely? Dirk Nowitzki? Andrea Bargnani? Nobody knows. Not even Kristaps Porzingis.

Give me the proven commodity – Justise Winslow. [via Journal Times]

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