Knicks president Phil Jackson couldn’t be happier with rookie Kristaps Porzingis, how quickly he has developed and the star quality he has shown.
Jackson, speaking publicly for the first time since before training camp, said there is something “magical” about the 7-3 Latvian forward.
“There’s the magical element to this young man that has caught the admiration of the fan base here in New York City and people around the country that do follow the Knicks,” Jackson said on SiriusXM NBA Radio Wednesday. “He’s got the right temperament, the right attitude, he carries himself well.
“He seems to have a very calm, balanced nature about his game. It’s a learning process. I see growth almost from game to game and that’s really, that’s the ticket that you look at as you watch a young player.”
Jackson said there was some concern that Porzingis, who the Knicks took with the No. 4 pick, would be strong enough to play heavy minutes. But he’s exceeded expectations there.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised that he has the stamina, the strength and the athleticism to play a duration of time in the game,” Jackson said.
The Knicks received heavy criticism for selecting Porzingis. But he’s made Jackson and his staff look smart. Porzingis came into Wednesday night’s game averaging 13.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.89 blocks over 28 minutes per game. But Jackson passed on an opportunity to take a bow.
“Not me, it’s all on him. This is the young man who has done it,” he said. “We made a choice. It seemed to me that was a logical choice. Not having seen him but once in person just in a shooting exhibition, I felt very comfortable making that choice.
“I’m just happy that the personality and the drive and the work ethic go along with that talent level.”