Durant spoke about Porzingis on Monday ahead of their teams' Tuesday showdown at Madison Square Garden, per the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps:
When they made the pick, I texted [Knicks head coach and former Thunder teammate Derek Fisher] immediately and I said I liked the pick. A lot of people were down on him, but he can play. I've seen it, you've seen it ... he's a skilled guy.
I think we've gotten away from enjoying the skilled players in this league. We've got so many guys that are athletic, and big and strong, but he's a skilled player. He can shoot, he can make the right plays, he can defend, he's a 7-footer that can shoot all the way out to the three-point line. That's rare. And block shots ... that's, like, a unicorn in this league. You've got to respect what he's doing. This being New York City, everything is under a microscope, but he's progressing at a high rate pretty fast, and he's gonna be a force.
Comparing someone to a mythological animal is quite the compliment, but it seems appropriate in light of the unique abilities Porzingis brings to the hardwood.
At just 20 years old, Porzingis is only beginning to come into his own in the NBA. Although he's shooting just 42.6 percent from the floor and 33.8 percent from three-point range, his proficiency figures to improve markedly over the course of his career.
For some perspective on those numbers, consider Durant shot 43 percent overall and 28.8 percent from deep as a rookie. That's not to say Porzingis will become as lethal a shooter as Durant but rather how much room there is for growth.
Hawks Fans Keep Getting Burned by Hot Sauce
Relive AI and Kobe Facing Off in the ASG
Who Is the Dancing Rockets Fan?
30 Years Ago Today MJ Took Flight
Teams That Must Make a Deal at Trade Deadline
How a 7-Foot Farmer Became Iceland's NBA Prospect
MJ Superfan Gets Crying LeBron Tattoo
Panic Time for Cavs, but What Can They Do?
Beck Reveals His 2018 NBA All-Star Ballot
Time for the Grizzlies to Trade Marc Gasol
I.T. Now the Biggest Question Mark of the Season
The Night in the NBA: Beasley Gets MVP Chants, DeRozan Drops 45 and More
Still Too Soon to Declare Anything About Any Rookie
We Owe the Indiana Pacers an Apology
B/R Looks Back on Tracy McGrady Scoring 13 Points in 35 Seconds in 2004
Tracy McGrady Scored the Most Impressive 13 Points of His Career in 35 Seconds
Butler Is the NBA's Biggest Country Music Fan
On This Day in 2012, Kobe Joined Elite NBA Club
NBA Handshake Fails
Is It Officially Panic Time in OKC?
Porzingis is averaging 14.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and two blocks per contest. The 7'3" big man has a high motor, though he is still acclimating to the style of play in the Association, not to mention a new country and expectations that he could be the Knicks' savior.
The combination of Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis gives New York two promising players to build around, with the latter having the potential to join 'Melo as an annual All-Star.
By most accounts, Porzingis has already exceeded expectations during the 2015-16 campaign. If he continues to develop at the surprising rate he has to date, the Latvian sensation could well prove to be the best player from the 2015 draft.