New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is a rising star in the NBA and already one of the most exciting young players in the league.
However, some wonder what his production would look like if he did not have teammate Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have just 2 wins and 18 losses without Anthony active since they drafted Porzingis. However, the Latvian sensation was also inactive for five of those games.
Meanwhile, here is what we learned from Ian Begley earlier today (via ESPN):
“Some around the league think Kristaps would benefit from playing with Carmelo – or another No. 1 scorer – for at least one more season.”
Anthony and Derrick Rose led New York in overall usage rate last season. Rose had nearly exactly the same points per game as Porzingis for the Knicks as well.
While he was undeniably exciting in his rookie year, he averaged 14.3 points per game during the 2015-16 campaign. That season, rookies Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor both scored more often than Porzingis.
Neither Towns nor Okafor is expected to be the primary scoring option for their team next season or in the future of the franchise. It’s not as if the report from Begley is unreasonable. In fact, Porzingis agrees (via NY Daily News):
“I think it would make life harder for me on the court [if Anthony was traded]. He makes stuff easier for me.”
During the games that Anthony was not on the court, Porzingis averaged 15 points per game. It’s not significantly less than what he has averaged during his career but it’s certainly not enough to lead a team in scoring.
His development could absolutely progress rapidly if Anthony is traded or bought out. But the idea that Begley floated of him perhaps needing another season before he takes over as the leading scorer makes sense.
It does not seem Anthony has one foot out the door, as many had earlier speculated. He has reportedly sent encouraging texts to Porzingis, who was playing for his home country of Latvia during the Eurobasket tournament.
Perhaps despite what former executive Phil Jackson apparently believed, it’s best for Porzingis if he stays paired Anthony.