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Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson praise Kristaps Porzingis and see Knicks in playoff race

The Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis dunks during the Knicks

The Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis dunks during the Knicks Tip-Off Scrimmage on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015 at Columbia University. Credit: Errol Anderson

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson believe rookie Kristaps Porzingis can be a good player and that the Knicks could be in the running for a playoff spot if Carmelo Anthony can stay healthy.

The two NBA analysts for ABC gave their opinions on the Knicks during a Monday conference call to promote the start of the season.

"The little I have seen Porzingis, I have liked him," said Van Gundy, a former Knicks coach. "I liked his whole attitude after getting drafted. I liked his assertiveness in the minutes I've seen him play, and I think if Anthony is healthy and really good, and Porzingis develops, I think they could be in the hunt in the last month for the eighth spot."

Jackson sounded as if he watched Porzingis more than Van Gundy did, and the former Knicks point guard came away impressed.

"Porzingis is a guy that can play," he said. "You can tease with his talent, his size, his ability to shoot, his athleticism. You can see what they liked coming into the draft, and I think he's going to be a very good basketball player for a long time to come.

"I would lean toward him starting because Carmelo Anthony's presence on the floor will simply make him better because of his ability to score. They're going to double-team Melo and create opportunities for him.

"This is a team that I don't think is a long shot to make the playoffs. I see them with the added talent and depth. When you look all throughout the roster, they have improved, and they certainly are more than capable of getting into the playoffs and fighting for one of those spots toward the end of the season."

New York Sports