What’s wrong with Kristaps Porzingis? A look at the Knicks star recent struggles

Written by: Mike Ryan

Twitter: mikey_ryan11

Kristaps Porzingis is struggling. There’s no denying that. His numbers in the past seven games have been far below what he was putting him in the beginning of the year. The results of the struggles? The Knicks have now become a bad team that is now one game below .500.

It’s no secret that Porzingis is the team’s best player and that the Knicks simply do not have the talent to overcome the struggles of the budding young star.

Various ailments cause Porzingis to miss time in December. An Elbow injury at the beginning of the month forced him to miss two games. Porzingis then suffered a knee injury that cost him two more games right in the middle of the month.

In the seven games since returning from the knee injury, Porzingis has been playing 33.7 minutes a night but has been far less effective. Porzingis is scoring just 19.4 points a night on 35.8% shooting from the field and 25% from the three point line. His shooting struggles have even been shown on the foul line where he is now only hitting 77.5% of his free throw 

Now compare these numbers to Porzingis overall numbers where he’s scoring 24.1 points a game on 44.1 shooting from the field, 37.0% from the three point line and 83.2% from the foul stripe.

The results for the Knicks? Not pretty. The team has lost five of seven with Porzingis struggling and now find themselves on the outside looking in for the East playoff picture.

There a couple of reasons why the production and efficiency for Porzingis has dropped.

The first being Porzingis has not done a good job at maximizing defensive mismatches and playing in the flow of the offense. Porzingis has been rushing shots and settling for jump shots instead of getting to the basket.

The second being the Knicks desperately miss Tim Hardaway Jr. as a secondary scorer on the court. Right now, opposing defense focus the entire game plan on stopping Porzingis as there’s no other offensive threat out there for the Knicks. Yeah, Courtney Lee is having a career year offensively but he’s not a guy who can go out and score 20-30 points on any given night. Hardaway provided that element.

Image result for tim hardaway jr and kp
Tim Hardaway Jr and Kristaps Porzingis are combining for 41.9 points per game this season (Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin)

Hardaway has missed the past 16 games with a stress related injury in his leg. Porzingis is talented and will be an all star for multiple years to come but in Hardaway’s abensence, it has been evident that Porzingis body is not developed enough to really be a focal point night and night out. Porzingis simply does not have the strength to be the only go to player on offense.

Defenses are able to sag off guys like Jarrett Jack, Frank Ntilikina, Courtney Lee because they don’t respect the ability of those three players to drive past them and create offensively for themselves.

Defenders are also able to go under screens and double Porzingis cause they don’t think Jack or Ntilikina will be able to shoot the three at the high level consistently.

This also leads to the third issue Porzingis has. The simple fact is that the Knicks guards simply do not drive the ball to the basket enough or have the talent to do so.

Jarrett Jack currently leads the team with 7.6 drives to the basket per game. Want to know where that ranks among all NBA players? 70th.

Image result for jarrett jack and frank ntilikina
Jarrett Jack leads the Knicks with 7.6 drives to the basket per game (NY POST) 

That simply just cannot work for Porzingis who relies on his teammates at times to create shots for him. The Knicks do not have a player who can break down a defense to create an open look for Porzingis. Hardaway was that guy and although he was not driving much (5.6 drives to the basket), he was at least a threat to beat his man off the dribble for a layup.

All in all, Porzingis has proven to be an elite player and there’s a good chance the ailments he faced in early December may still be effecting him. Seven games is something not to totally stress about for Knicks fans although it may be concerning.

This year was all about development and it’ll be interesting to see how Porzingis continues to adjust his game to put up the elite numbers he was at the beginning of the year.

Hardaway should be back in the line-up in mid January so help is on the way. In the meantime, Porzingis will have to find a way to break out of the slump he’s currently in.

*For mote things NBA be sure to check OFF THE GLASS at otgbasketball.com. Great insight, articles and podcasts for all your favorite NBA teams*

2 comments

  1. Good ball movement and spacing would help, but Hornacek seems lost in establishing that. He allows Jack to take ridiculous shots and Lee just seems focused on getting his points. The Knicks have become a one on one team in recent games, which has helped Beasley but will hurt the team in long run though credit him for showing a willingness to pass. Watch Jack and you get the feeling he does not want to pass to Porzingis. On a lot of Lee’s drives to the basket I see KP open on his left and he won’t pass the ball to him or maybe simply doesn’t have good court vision. Lee and Jack should help run the offense but what I see are two guys whose priority is to get their points. KP could work harder and run the floor more to get open, but there are times he is open and in good position to get a good shot and doesn’t get the ball. It’s on the coach. Hornacek is not the guy; look what happened in his first head coaching job.

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    1. Alan I agree 100 percent at this point many of the Knicks issues are on Jeff Hornacek. Jack should not be playing as much as he does in the first place and the offense suffers due to his lack of outside shooting and playmaking ability. His handling of the rotation to me has been horrid since the beginning of the season and with Hardaway Jr. going down we have no margin for error in the coaching department. Lance Thomas, Ron Baker, and Jarrett Jack all get way to many minutes and those minutes should go to Doug Mcdermott, Micheal Beasley, and Frank Ntilikina. Hornachek needs to make KP’s life easier by running more pick and roll with him and Frank and always keeping at least 2 shooters on the court with him to spread things out. It is way to easy for teams to double team KP when you have Lance Thomas, Jarrett Jack and Ron Baker on the wings since no one respect their ability to hit a jump shot.

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