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.
Leave Lonzo Alone, He's Only 20
The Boston Celtics Are on Top of the NBA
Gregg Popovich Has the San Antonio Spurs Rolling at Home
It's Early, but Stevens Is the Coach of the Year
Shaq and Chuck Used to Get into It on the Court
LeBron Isn't Worried, but Maybe He Should Be
NBA Superstars Are Cruising by Scoring Milestones
This Lakers Rookie Is Ready to Take Over the NBA
LeBron James Jr. Is More Than Just His Famous Name
Growing Up: Damian Lillard Tells Us How He Improved His Jump Shot as a Kid
Growing Up: the Game That Showed Isaiah Thomas He Could Be an NBA Star
Growing Up: How Kyrie Irving Became One of the League’s Most Lethal Scorers
NBA Africa Game 2017: Embiid, Porzingis & More Battle in Johannesburg
NBA Stars Are All in on #DriveByDunkChallenge, the Summer's Hottest Meme
Lonzo Ball Proves He’s a Big Baller by Winning Summer League MVP
Best and Worst Moves of the NBA Offseason So Far
Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft
Jayson Tatum NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Celtics Rookie
Grading the Jimmy Butler Trade for the Chicago Bulls
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.