After their first win of the 2015-16 NBA season against the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers will cross the East River to face the New York Knicks. While all the attention is on what may be Kobe Bryant’s final appearance at the Garden, there is an intriguing matchup between D’Angelo Russell and Kristaps Porzingis.
Before selecting Russell with their second overall pick at the 2015 NBA Draft, the Lakers were considering Porzingis. However, head coach Byron Scott shared the Lakers thought it would take him some time to develop according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“[We] just thought it was going to take him some time [to develop],” Scott said.
While it is still early in the season, Porzingis is averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Knicks. As a result, Scott acknowledged the Lakers were probably a little wrong and complimented the rookie’s play, via Holmes:
“Obviously, we were probably a little wrong about that because he’s playing pretty well right now,” Scott said.
While Porzingis earned high praise during workouts, the Lakers ultimately chose Russell. Although the point guard is still adjusting his game, he had his best game of the young season against the Nets with 16 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes.
It will take a couple more seasons to determine if the Lakers made the right decision by passing on Porzingis. However, the Lakers have a nice young core in Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson who are expected to carry the franchise for the post-Kobe Bryant era.