Kristaps Porzingis continues to endear himself to New York Knicks fans everywhere.
Yes, the points and blocks and big shots matter. He’s averaging 30 points on career-best shooting percentages. He profiles as the NBA’s stingiest rim protector, according to NBA.com. He frustrated the hell out of Dwight Howard during the Knicks’ Tuesday night victory over the Charlotte Hornets with some timely flopping, general physicality and winking:
Kristaps legit winked after selling contact from Dwight Howard. i can't ? pic.twitter.com/VuNkhVbLfK
— Dan Favale (@danfavale) November 8, 2017
And on top of all that, Porzingis now owns the franchise’s scoring record through 10 games—an impressive feat for a 22-year-old who only just assumed the role of top dog this season.
New York’s unicorn doesn’t care.
Okay, well, he does care. But as he told reporters, per ESPN.com’s Ian Begley, he has his eyes set on a more important accolade—a playoff berth:
“The sweetest thing for us, the best thing for us, will be to make the playoffs. This means nothing,” said Porzingis, whose Knicks have missed the postseason for four straight seasons. “If we can keep winning and I keep doing what I have to do, then the real reward will come.”
This should sound ridiculous. It does sound ridiculous. Not the sentiment, to be sure. That much can be appreciated and revered. But this notion that the Knicks can make the playoffs at all should be absurd. And yet, right now, it isn’t. Not totally.
The Knicks are 6-4. They have the net rating of a 30-something-win team, but they’re playing like a 50-plus-win squad when Porzingis is on the floor, according to NBA Math’s FATS Calculator. Knowing how wide-open the East Conference remains, and how well Porzingis is playing, a surprise playoff push doesn’t seem out of the question.
Come back and talk about this in January, though. If the Knicks are still hovering near .500 after playing more games on the road, and if Porzingis is still posting career shooting slashes amid league-high usage, we can rap about the squad’s postseason viability.
For now, just enjoy the legitimate, authentic, genuine superstar wonder that is young Kristaps.