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Kristaps Porzingis' versatility draws raves from Kurt Rambis

Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia celebrates after being drafted

Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia celebrates after being drafted with the #4 overall pick by the New York Knicks during the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 25, 2015. Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Knicks associate head coach Kurt Rambis said Kristaps Porzingis has "effortless three-point range" and has aspects of Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol in his game. But Rambis said Porzingis needs time to develop.

"He might be a combination of both of them because he can do so many things," said Rambis, who ran the Knicks on Monday with Derek Fisher away from the team for personal reasons. "You guys haven't seen it yet and probably all of it won't come out for three, four, five years either. He's got to grow up, mature, develop, get stronger, get used to the NBA game.

"He already understands basketball. He already knows what to do. He's an unselfish ballplayer. He makes really good decisions. It wasn't like he's a blank slate coming in here. He knows how to play. He's going to be fun to work with."

The Knicks took Porzingis with the No. 4 pick, and the 7-3 power forward from Latvia has shown maturity, versatility and some toughness. But he still hasn't faced real NBA competition, which will come later this week when the Knicks start playing preseason games.

Rambis has been working with Porzingis since the summer and has been impressed with his mobility and agility. He referenced the big man bringing up the ball in a fastbreak situation.

"For a 7-3 guy, that's tremendous," Rambis said. "And he's going to be able to play with his back to the basket. He's going to be able to play facing the basket, handle the ball. We like his defense too, his length. There's not too many players out there that have his mobility and his length, so we see a lot of things that he can bring to the table at the defensive end."

Rambis said the coaching staff still hasn't decided whether to start Porzingis or bring him off the bench.

He has been scrimmaging on the same team as Carmelo Anthony a lot, which makes sense because he will take some attention away from Porzingis. But Rambis also noted that if Porzingis comes off the bench, the matchups might be more favorable against a second unit.

Either way, Rambis thinks Porzingis will be able to help the Knicks and be a matchup problem for opposing teams.

"His ability to shoot the basketball is going to be very dangerous and teams are going to be very wary of him," Rambis said. "His reputation as a shooter is going to go around the league quickly.

"He's going to have to be able to do a good job of reading defenses. That's probably the No. 1 thing that he has to do is make the correct decision reading the defense, whether he's playing with his back to the basket or facing it. And then all that other normal stuff that rookies have to learn."

New York Sports