Orlando Magic Draft: Evaluating Kristaps Porzingis

Orlando Magic On the Clock

draft lottery

With the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery in the books, the Orlando Magic is now on the clock with the fifth overall selection. Although Orlando will be out of range for diaper dandies Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky or Jahlil Okafor of Duke, there is still plenty of talent available in this year’s draft.

According to NBADraft.net , the Orlando Magic is projected to select 7-foot-1 inch forward Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia. Porzingis considered making himself available for the 2014 NBA draft, but eventually withdrew his name from consideration. Chad Ford of ESPN.com reported that Porzingis has in fact made himself eligible for this year’s draft.

If Orlando decides to draft Porzingis, what exactly does this international man of mystery bring to the table? In watching Porzingis on youtube, I see a long armed seven footer with great shooting range. Not only can Porzingis stroke it from downtown, but he can also put the ball on the floor and create his own shot off the bounce. I also noticed that Porzingis is a good help defender and uses his length to block shots on defense. In addition, I think Porzingis has good hands around the basket and uses his athleticism to finish above the rim.

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As for the negatives, Porzingis is a tall glass of water at roughly 220 pounds. Therefore, the knock on him is that he lacks the bulk to be a consistent force in the paint at the NBA level. With such a thin and lean frame, it remains to be seen if Porzingis can ever put on the size necessary to bang down low with NBA big men.

For all of his offensive perimeter skills, Porzingis offers very little in terms of a post-up game at this point in his career. According to NBADraft.net’s scouting report on Porzingis, “he’s a shooting guard in the body of a center.” In addition, Porzingis is a very poor rebounder for a player his size. For his team Baloncesto Sevilla in the Spanish ACB League, Porzingis averaged a measly 4.5 rebounds per game. In Eurocup play, Porzingis’ rebounding numbers were ever worse at 4.1 boards per game.

Luckily for the Magic, they already have rugged rebounder and insider scorer Nikola Vucevic. The fourth year man led Orlando in both scoring and rebounding with 19.3 points per game and 10.9 boards per game this year. Also, second-year player Aaron Gordon figures to be more of a factor on the glass next year if he can recover from his stress fracture foot injury. Adding Tobias Harris’ and D-League keeper Dewayne Dedmon’s contributions to the mix, I think Orlando can collectively rebound the basketball well enough to make up for Porzingis’ weakness in this area.

Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O'Quinn and Maurice Harkless

With regards to an NBA comparison for Porzingis, they range anywhere from all-star Pau Gasol, to the oft-injured Andrea Bargnani, to total draft bust Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Being that the Euro game is vastly different than the NBA game, it is always a crap shoot when projecting foreign born talent. The evaluation process becomes even more difficult when considering that Porzingis is all of 19 years old.

All told, I think Porzingis would bring some much needed firepower to Orlando’s 25th ranked offense. A big man that has athleticism around the rim, shooting range, and ball handling ability would be a tough cover for most teams in the depleted eastern conference. Porzingis certainly has his share of weaknesses, but investing in some perimeter offense would be a wise decision for the Orlando Magic in 2015.