Rating All of Kristaps Porzingis' Putback Dunks

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2015

Nov 6, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) dunks after grabbing a rebound over Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) and center Johnny O'Bryant III (77) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Bucks defeated the Knicks 99-92. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis is not Dirk Nowitzki.

But we shouldn't hold that against Dirk Nowitzki.

Less than 20 games into Porzingis' NBA career, the "Kristaps Kraze" is reaching unreckonable heights. Presumed a years-long project, the 20-year-old rookie is ready to play now. He owns the best net rating of any Knicks starter and has the third-highest player efficiency rating among rookies.

Much of the mounting hype can be traced back to Porzingis' highlight factory. He is a 7'3" viral Vine, his claim to Internet fame owed partially, if not mostly, to a series of putback jams.

In true Kristaps-dictates-everything fashion, we're here to celebrate those savage slams using our trusty ol', NBA 2k-inspired rating system

As a refresher, judgment will be passed on Porzingis' stuffs using a five-tier grading system: Difficulty, Clowning the Defender, Importance of the Moment, Jaw-Drop Factor and a play-specific wild card. Scores are weighted on a scale of 0 to 99—perfection doesn't exist—and remain totally subjective.

Feel free to bow at the altar of your new rookie overlord whenever you see fit.

Annihilating Atlanta (Oct. 29)

Difficulty: 12

Porzingis' first career putback dunk isn't much of a head-turner. He casually glides toward the rim, an afterthought in the mind of supposed-to-be-a-strong-defender Tiago Splitter, and touch-dunks the orange round thing into the bottom of the dangling twine-y thing.

Clowning the Defender: 88

This is an understatedly smart play from the player who I've now decided to call 'Zaps. He gives Carmelo Anthony room by stationing himself beyond the three-point line, bringing Splitter with him. When Anthony finally attacks the rim, Splitter reacts, abandoning 'Zaps and offering him an unimpeded path to the basket. In the words of the almighty Yoda: Smart, Porzingis is.

Importance of the Moment: 81

Putback slams barely qualifying as putback slams that come late in a second quarter the Knicks would leave trailing by 16 are of negligible importance. Still, this was 'Zaps' first-ever putback. It doesn't matter how he did it. He did it, setting the stage for many more moments that are actually worth swooning over, and that's what is important.

Jaw-Drop Factor: 21

Gentlemanly flushes don't make you pump your fist or leave your mouth agape enough to swallow a bocce ball. This one in particular, however, makes you see that Porzingis is the kind of guy who holds open a door for you before and after stealing your lunch money.

Hide-and-Seek Factor: 99

Kudos to Porzingis, a 7'3" telephone pole on wheels, for hiding in plain sight. Not one of the five Atlanta Hawks sees him coming. It's like he borrowed Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, even though he didn't.

Overall: 70

Our categories average out to around 60, but bonus points are liberally handed out because this is one of the first times the world realized Porzingis had the ability to make Carmelo Anthony misses fun.

Look Out, LaMarcus (Nov. 2)

Difficulty: 95

Words cannot do justice to the difficulty of this jam. Porzingis elevates over a 6'11" LaMarcus Aldridge, his arm cocked, and cleans up another Anthony miss with one hand. Only three words are even remotely appropriate after watching this on a loop: "oh," "my" and "god."

Clowning the Defender: 99

Since neither the written nor spoken word can properly encapsulate the insanity of Porzingis' second-chance stuff, we're going to the tape:


Poor LaMarcus.

Importance of the Moment: 88

Porzingis' dare-to-go-viral momentum-shifter helped the Knicks almost deprive Tim Duncan of his NBA-record 954th victory. Raise the roof in his honor. Or something.

Jaw-Drop Factor: 98

To the tape again:


We needn't say any more. Jerian Grant's face (middle) says it all.

Post-Dunk Staredown Factor: 99

Back to that visual grind once more:


Are you jealous of Porzingis' after-dunk facial contortion swag yet? I sure am.

Overall: 98

Next time you start thinking a 6'11" structure can deter Porzingis' ability to make one-handed poster art, do yourself a favor: stop, turn to the shrine of "Gawdzingis" that you've indubitably stored inside your walk-in closet and apologize to his royal, not-of-this-planet highness.

No love for Love (Nov. 4)

Difficulty: 27

Jamming over Kevin Love's head while basically standing on your tippy toes sounds hard. But Porzingis is taller than most skyscrapers, making it pretty easy. On top of that, he lazily wanders into the paint without receiving any resistance from Timofey Mozgov or Love—who, ya know, is actually trying to grab the rebound.

Clowning the Defender: 89

Love, standing 6'10", ranks second in total boards since entering the league, behind only the used-to-be-amazing Dwight Howard. On this play, Porzingis makes him look no taller than the 5'3" Muggsy Bogues.  

Importance of the Moment: 83

No, this dunk does not come in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. And yes, despite leading by as many as 15 points, the Knicks would lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-86. But Love was the second All-Star power forward Porzingis destroyed in as many games. No loss, however inexplicable, can take that away from him. 

Jaw-Drop Factor: 53

After learning how demonstrative Porzingis can be when he feels like it (see: slam over Aldridge), his reaction here is a major letdown. The putback itself is effortless, and that's fine. But the Cavaliers were coming for the Knicks' lead. Surely this warrants a roar, chest thump or something other than a half-hearted flexing session.

Overall: 79

That Porzingis hardly seems to be trying here both helps and hurts him. On the one hand: yawn. On the other: OH MY GOD PORZINGIS CONVERTED A PUTBACK DUNK AT THE EXPENSE OF A SUPERSTAR AND MADE IT LOOK STUPID-EASY.


A Third-Quarter Prelude (Nov. 6)

Difficulty: 34

There's only one reason why Porzingis' score isn't lower: Big men don't typically glide like this, nor do they usually transition into a soaring leap so fluidly. That's about all that's truly mind-numbing here, though, as Tyler Ennis and Greg Monroe pretty much invite Porzingis to do what he does best.

Clowning the Defender: 77

So, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ennis and Monroe think they can gaze longingly at the sweat-stained leather sphere dancing off the rim and preparing to ever so smoothly find its way onto solid ground? Well, as Porzingis showed them, they can't.

Importance of the Moment: 85

Just like every other putback occasion to this point, Porzingis' cleanup accolades are marred by the Knicks losing. But never once were they out of this game, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks, 99-92, only after another fourth-quarter implosion. 'Zaps' smash came during a third quarter in which New York trimmed Milwaukee's lead to two by its conclusion. 

Jaw-Drop Factor: 9

Why not a zero? Because I'm still trying to wrap my around what Ennis and Monroe—and Antetokounmpo—were thinking. They were so uselessly idle, it's almost impressive.

Steal a Rebound from Robin Lopez Factor: 96

Normally, we frown upon such selfishness. In this instance, Porzingis is less Ricky Davis and more just plain awesome. The only thing that can make this better is if he actually waits for Lopez to grab the ball before snatching it and pushing it through the net.

Overall: 64

Most of us knew what Porzingis could do before this two-handed blast, which naturally gives way to mixed feelings of disappointment and glee. It's good that he knows how to take advantage of open space, but given what he did to Aldridge, this one needed a little extra flair. A simple, not-at-all-difficult 360-degree airborne spin would have sufficed. 

The Porzingis All-Bucks Protein Diet (Nov. 6)

Difficulty: 91

Suddenly, the previously nonchalant putback makes sense. Porzingis was saving himself for this one.

As Posting and Toasting's Seth Rosenthal wrote: "The first one is just him being tall and unboxed. The second one is some really impressive timing and hand-eye coordination."

Indeed, it's the hand-eye composure that drums up the difficulty score. Porzingis takes flight outside the restricted area and must use his full reach to shame Johnny O'Bryant III and Monroe. That overshadows Monroe's bafflingly bad box-out any day of the week and six times on Friday.

Clowning the Defender: 93

Monroe dares to play it cool on the rebound attempt yet again, and Porzingis makes him pay in the form of immortalized humiliation. Here's hoping he sent a copy of this poster to Monroe and signed it: "To Greg, Thanks for all you do—or don't do! Get it? LOL. Seriously, next time you're in New York, the grey peas with bacon and potatoes with herring and curds are on me. Forever in your debt. 'Zaps."

Importance of the Moment: 89

Though this masterful throwdown came just two minutes after Porzingis' first one, it was noticeably more meaningful, bringing the Knicks within two as the Madison Square Garden faithful rose to their feet, fully believing the boys in orange and blue could win. They didn't, of course, but still...

Jaw-Drop Factor: 90

Can we really dole out a score below 90 for a putback that brought Knicks fans to their feet and Porzingis to his butt?

Source: YouTube.

No, no we cannot.

Return of the Post-Dunk Staredown Factor: 95

Porzingis recycled his angry look of success after cutting up the Bucks a second time—with one slight variation:


Interesting choice of stances. It's as if Porzingis is posing for the cover of a fitness magazine or ESPN The Magazine's body issue, attempting to show off his eighty-pack. But Porzingis is neither shirtless nor wearing spandex, so the abs-flexing is moot. Points are deducted for his improper attire.

Overall: 94

Over a roughly two-second span, Porzingis showcases his vertical, timing, ball control, disregard for the rim's well-being and celebratory fire. Now that's an efficient use of the clock.

Kristaps Porzingis: Raptor-Killer (Nov. 10)

Difficulty: 98

See? Porzingis can clean up misses in traffic, too. James Johnson, Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas are all in the vicinity, but Porzingis begins his approach from behind the three-point line. He times his jump perfectly, and his momentum takes cares of the rest.

Clowning the Defender: 72

Nothing about this is especially funny—except for the fact that, despite competently crashing the glass, Johnson, Scola and Valanciunas all fall victim to the uncooked spaghetti noodles Porzingis calls arms.

Importance of the Moment: 99

Porzingis' flush gave the Knicks a two-point lead in a game against the Toronto Raptors that they won by—wait for it...keep waiting...wait some more...here it comes—two. This also marks the first—and to date only—putback jam Porzingis throws down in a victory. Never before has there been a more important putback.*

*There's no way this is actually true.

Jaw-Drop Factor: 92

Jaws dropped. Eyes widened. Seats were vacated. Lou Amundson cussed.

"He's f--king tall as s--t and he's aggressive,” Amundson said of Porzingis' smash against Toronto, per CBS Sports' James Herbert. "He hits the glass and he's got good timing and he's got long arms."

What Amundson was trying to say was, "Solid putback dunking, 'Zaps. Solid putback dunking."

Twitter Fun Facts Factor: 98

Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com offered some mind-melting perspective following Porzingis' disrespect for gravity:

You'll notice, too, that this latest reel comes courtesy of another Anthony miss. And as Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal pointed out, Anthony missing is a pivotal part of Porzingis' airborne mulligans:

Overall: 97

This is easily the most difficult of Porzingis' putbacks. It's also the one that put defenses on higher alert.

Porzingis hasn't redefined the way we view second-chance opportunities since he crashed Toronto's rebounding party.

That's OK, though. Porzingis' career is only just underway. He has plenty of eruptive putbacks left in him. It's still early, but this rookie sensation is for real.

And if Porzingis' meteoric rise is something you cannot accept, or if his propensity for putbacks becomes so commonplace that you grow tired of their ubiquity, you'll just have to:


Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless otherwise cited and are accurate leading into games played Nov. 27.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @danfavale.