In the 2015 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks and president Phil Jackson made an interesting and surprising pick with the fourth overall selection, as they selected a 19-year-old forward out of Latvia named Kristaps Porzingis.
The pick was criticized by man as not much was known about Porzingis among American fans, as he played overseas.
But it ended up being a good pick as Porzingis averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in his rookie campaign, earning him All-Rookie First Team honors.
Many people have since changed their opinions of Porzingis, as the 7 foot 3 inch forward that can shoot has drawn comparisons to another European forward, Dallas Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki.
One player who is very fond of Porzingis is Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who had the opportunity to play against Porzingis in his last NBA season.
According to what Porzingis recently wrote in The Players’ Tribune, after they played this past season Bryant told him that he has a bright future, something that excited Porzingis:
We were playing the Lakers in the second half of the season. Kobe came up to me after the game, and he said, “You have a bright future ahead of you.”
That blew my mind. Kobe’s my idol. It was an honor!
In the November 8, 2015 matchup between the Knicks and Lakers Porzingis had 12 points and 10 rebounds on 3-of-10 shooting, and the New York defeated Los Angeles, 99-95. Bryant had 18 points and three assists on 6-of-19 shooting in his last career game at Madison Square Garden.
Porzingis will look to make strides in his second season in the NBA, as the Knicks have surrounded him with a better supporting cast, adding Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah among others.