Washington Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis stands tall in today’s era of position-less basketball.
Acquired from the Dallas Mavericks at the trade deadline last February, the 7-foot-3 Porzingis has found a home in the nation’s capital playing for head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and with the Wizards’ other top scorers, guard Bradley Beal and forward Kyle Kuzma.
Porzingis is enjoying his best season statistically since his All-Star season in 2017-18, when he averaged a career-best 22.7 points with the New York Knicks. In 41 games this season with the Wizards (20-26), the Latvian is averaging 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.5 blocks. He’s also getting to the free-throw line a career-high 7.0 times a game, a trend that began last year when he joined Washington and averaged 6.8 free-throw attempts in 17 games.
The No. 4 overall selection of the 2015 NBA Draft is paying attention to what’s next in the NBA. Naturally, two 7-foot-plus talents have caught his eye — 7-2 Bol Bol of the Orlando Magic and 7-2 French teenager Victor Wembanyama, the consensus No. 1 prospect of the 2023 draft.
Porzingis discussed his own challenges of being a young, multi-skilled big in the NBA and the strengths of Wembanyama’s game in a Q&A with Bally Sports.
You’re extremely tall, and you do a ton on the basketball court. From your vantage point, is there an adjustment in growing into your height and skill set to become effective on the floor?
Oh definitely. I think that with how physical the NBA is you have to find ways on how to use your height and play to your advantages, you know? By being able to attack those smaller guards and also the big guys, so I think that it’s a process.
When I came in as a rookie, I remember I struggled a little bit in the beginning, and it’s completely normal. … Bol Bol is already doing his thing, and I think Victor will too, more sooner than later. He’ll be fine.
What do you think of Bol Bol?
I think that a lot of people are surprised about what he’s capable of. Everybody kind of had a feeling that he does have talent. He’s like one of those guys that is just a hooper. He goes out there and plays and has fun, and now he’s out there rolling
Victor Wembanyama is the truth and he has the goods. What do you like about him?
His confidence. I love his confidence, you know? You can tell that he knows that he’s good, and that’s important. And obviously his shooting.
You compared him to me at that age? He’s WAY more advanced! This guy is incredibly talented and longer than me. I mean, it’s gonna be interesting following his career.
Every star has a finishing move. Hakeem Olajuwon had the “Dream Shake.” Penny Hardway had the fadeaway. What's your go-to?
If the game is on the line, I want to receive the ball at the free-throw line. It’s the most comfortable (spot) for me, and it’s hard to double. So I would say there, but maybe a step-back from there. So that would be my “finishing move,” so to say.