Best-case scenario wizards for 2022-23: Christaps Porzingis

Feelings certainly haven’t been pure for Washington Wizards fans lately.

Johnny Davis, who picked the NBA lottery in 2022, looked like a fish out of the water during his summer stint in the league. Bradley Beal’s contract extension wasn’t widely celebrated with all the bells and whistles, to say the least. The overall temperature of what the future holds for this team is not close to being as rosy as the cherry blossoms in the capital in April.

So what’s the best we can realistically hope for? Fans cheer for the team for a good performance on the field with somewhat mixed results. But if Lady Luck smiles on Wiz more often in the upcoming season, what will that look like?

This series will attempt to determine the most plausible scenario from the Wizards writer’s point of view. paying off Part 1 on Bradley Beal.


Part 2: Christaps porsingis looks like a unicorn again

From a projection point of view, FIBA ​​is Much like the summer NBA.

You can throw the typical chest result stats out of the window. NBA players supposed To perform as the Greek gods veer off Mount Olympus to play alongside the best that we humans have to offer.

But watch this 22-second clip from Kristaps Porzingis and tell me that you’re at least no more optimistic about KP than you were 22 seconds ago:

It doesn’t matter that it’s against a Great Britain team that doesn’t feature any NBA players. Don’t even care about the 29 points and 14 rebounds he earned in less than 30 minutes of play. (Fun fact: Teammate Davis Bertans finished with two points in 24 minutes)

Seeing Kristaps rise out of nowhere for a poor dunk and minutes later attack smoothly closing in for a basic congestion is what you’d hope to see from a player who’s had knee issues for the past several seasons.

The origin and disappearance of the first rhino

Once upon a time, Kristaps Porzingis was rated as the first unicorn in particular because he performed these delicate dynamic plays while also being 7ft 3 tall. The combination of size and mobility he had just screamed a game-changing talent.

The horse brand was perfect given that he ran all over the field early in his career, making an unmistakable impact on both ends. This is a big reason because it was difficult for him to return to the same player he was before his rupture in the AFC Champions League in February 2018.

It’s a moment clearly ingrained in the minds of Knicks fans, but one that may need a refresher for the sake of the Wizards’ faithful. Porsingis made a skillful cut in the basket for a fierce one-handed flush but landed with great force on his left knee:

Less than two weeks before his injury, Porzingis was named to his first and only All-Star Team, thanks in large part to that mobility ability that once allowed him to dribble even someone like Giannis.

That season, Kristaps had one of the largest football fleets in the entire league. Of the 12 qualifying positions who played at least 30 minutes per game in the 2017-18 season, Porsenges ranked second (4.15 mph) in average foot speed traveling the field, behind Rudy Gobert who was on his way to his first game. . DPOY Cup. The scale includes time remaining constant, which indicates how actively KP is maintaining itself on hardwood.

Just look at him using the off-ball action in the 2018 overtime game against the Bulls. Porzingis exited the screen from outside the arc and stormed the corridor to dunk the game as time was up:

It is understood that there has been a marked decrease in his average speed over the past three seasons following the injury. KP’s pace has slowed to less than 4 mph every year since then from 4.1 mph or higher in his first three seasons. This also affected the amount of hardwood he was able to traverse in attack and defense:

average speed + mileage vs other centers (minimum 30 mpg, Via NBA stats)

before injury

2015-16: 4.11 mph (T-4 of 19)1.94 miles per game (17 of 19)

2016-2017: 4.11 mph (5th of 12th)2.24 miles per game (fourth of 12)

2017-18: 4.15 mph (second of 13)2.23 miles per game (fifth of 13)

post injury

2019-20: 3.90 mph (eighth of 13)2.19 miles per game (tenth of 13)

2020-21: 3.91 MPH (eighth of 12)2.08 miles per game (T-last of 12)

2021-22: 3.90 mph (17 of 21)2.01 miles per game (T-last of 21)

Speed ​​and activity on the field do not directly mean a productive player. After all, the names at the bottom of the list include stars like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. But these men manage to be slow and methodical in their approach and can outsmart their opponents with their physicality.

Porzingis doesn’t have the size and strength to do the same. His ability to cover the ground once gave him an advantage rarely seen for a man of his size in the NBA. Now that he was drained of this supremacy, it limited his ability to influence the game.

The rhino horn was ripped off in defense

Perhaps the most significant loss for Kristaps Porzingis is the defensive end. Once described as a two-way talent, KP is now seen as a defender unlike the blocker he was early in his career.

He obviously lost foot speed to cover the ground and keep up with the flankers and guards as he had done in the past. Here he removes the shuffle by Rudy Gobert of all people:

It’s a pretty steep drop considering that Christaps Porzingis once had a case as the best player in the NBA when it came to competing for shots.

NBA stats are only beginning to track contending shots in the 2016-2017 season. In that opening data set, Porzingis ranked second out of the 486 eligible players tracked. He finished fourth out of 540 players the following season. Kristaps led the entire NBA in contested shots in every game during the combined two-season period. But it’s been a steady decline for him in this department ever since:

Kristaps Porzingis has played shots per game year after year (Via NBA stats)

  • 2016-2017: 15.4 shots (2nd place in the NBA)
  • 2017-18: 13.7 (4th in the NBA)
  • 2019-20: 12.8 (10th in the NBA)
  • 2020-21: 11.3 (10th in the NBA)
  • 2021-22: 9.6 (21st place in the NBA)

Relatively speaking, his overall competitions were still pretty high there despite being in a downtrend. But the quality of his competitions has seen a significant decline.

During his first three seasons, he was an elite at lowering opponents’ field goal percentages when competing for his shot. One of the stats the NBA uses to measure this is field goal difference aka the player’s FG ratio to what it is when shooting against player X.

Of the 87 players who had at least 10 shots per game in the junior season, Porzingis finished fourth with a wide margin of -4.6 percent on field goals. He was 13th and 11th respectively in the two seasons before his injury.

KP can turn any good shot into a mediocre shot and a mediocre shot into a bad shot with every contest. But his influence has waned in the past three seasons, going from elite to barely-there:

FG % difference for Kristaps Porzingis discount (10 minutes DFA, Via NBA stats)

  • 2015-16: -4.6% (4th in the NBA)
  • 2016-2017: -3.5% (13th in the NBA)
  • 2017-18: -3.8% (ninth in the NBA)
  • 2019-20: -3.9% (15th place in the NBA)
  • 2020-21: -0.2% (72nd in the NBA)
  • 2021-22: -0.3% (81st in the NBA)

Luka Doncic (66) and Russell Westbrook (69) ranked above KP in touching picks in 2020-21. Bradley Beal (78) was bettered by him last season.

Watch Kristaps look like a slow move against Elfred Payton despite having a prime position to defend his shot in the restricted area:

As seen above, Porzingis still easily competes with guys with his massive length and massive wingspan, but they aren’t always quality competitions when he roams like a man expected to be his size and not like the rhinoceros he was before.


What does a best case scenario for KP look like?

When Porzingis is on the field, he’s sure to put in solid numbers. Although his reputation has taken a hit in the past three seasons, he still averages 20 points and eight rebounds per season. We expect it to continue next season.

However, as we learned from Russell Westbrook, numbers don’t always tell the whole story. How effective he is in other areas, particularly on the defensive side, could be the difference when it comes to KP regaining his All-Star form in 2022-23.

The peak season for Kristaps Porzingis is not just about managing injury prevention. It’s regaining his mobility that is changing the style of play on the basketball court now, five years after his most serious knee injury.

Not even Santa Claus can give Christapps Pursings the gift of movement like 2017 again. But after five final healthy weeks with Washington, where he has now cashed in on an off-season assignment with Latvia, it is the best he has been driving for a new season for quite some time.

Just look at him with a step and swat Cedi Osman’s wing shot and tell me he doesn’t look noticeably better than the defensive lights above:

Rudy Gobert set him on fire from the exact same spot two years ago. It’s a safe bet that it won’t happen again next season.


Part 3 will be next week on Deni Avdija. If you haven’t, check out Part 1 on Bradley Beal.