ROUNDBALL DAILY

Kristaps Porzingis is off to a better start than anyone would’ve imagined

(NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES)

If you’ve yet to see the Knicks play this season because, well, they’re the Knicks, and eventually you’re going to die, well, we… we couldn’t have blamed you earlier.

But since Kristaps Porzingis has transformed New York from moribund to sublime (Clyde Frazier’s words, obviously), doing more with his first chance to be the star than Bryan Cranston in ‘Breaking Bad,’ you won’t regret saying ‘MSG’ into the remote.

You’ve probably heard this before, but this guy’s game is pretty unique. It’s so unique, even, that you may have believed it couldn’t exist. You could compare him to a Unicorn, if you wanted to.

It’s also easy to compare him to Dirk Nowitzki, but as reverential as that is as a compliment, even that doesn’t accurately describe his game.

He’s like a cross between Dirk Nowitzki and amazingly, Dwyane Wade.

At 7-3, Porzingis glides down the lane, beats guys with his first step, gets to the basket on jab-steps and ball fakes, and even blows past people on back-cuts.

In the Knicks’ 108-101 win over the Pacers on Sunday, KP scored in almost every way imaginable.

In the highlights above, you’ll see him use his height advantage and go face-up bank shot like Tim Duncan. He’ll also throw down an alley-oop off a lob like a Dunk Contest-competing 2-guard, and knock down falling away, high-degree-of-difficulty midrange J’s like Dirk.

He also drills 3’s from 30-plus feet using his height advantage, much like Nowitzki did.

On defense, Porzingis looked like LeBron turning back shots in transition, or like a much more athletic Manute Bol, anchoring in the paint and making it impossible to shoot over him.

He finished with 40 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks, and the Knicks erased a 16-point deficit in the final nine minutes to earn a hard-fought win.

Porzingis has taken his opportunity to be the man and done more with it, sooner, than we could’ve imagined, and you have to wonder if he was capable of this all along, only he had to deal with Carmelo commanding the ball and putting up 15 contested 20-footers every night.

He’s already taken the Garden as his own, and the fans have willingly given him the franchise player mantle because, in just 10 games, he’s earned it.

Rarely does an athlete like Porzingis live up to the hype (and he’s seen more than he maybe deserved coming into the season because he plays in New York), but so far this year, he’s exceeding it.

Kristaps is averaging a 30.2 points (second in the league to Giannis Antetokounmpo), 7.8 boards, and 2.2 blocks per game.

He’s shooting 50 percent (36% from three), and 82 percent from the free throw line.

After an 0-3 start, the Knicks have won 5 of 6, and they’re playing with toughness, intelligence and guts–something that’s been foreign in Madison Square Garden since Patrick Ewing was putting on a jersey.

“We’re really just playing with that New York grit,” Porzingis said after Sunday’s game, to the roar of the MSG crowd. It’s amazing how this 22-year-old from Latvia has navigated the New York market like a seasoned vet.

This Knicks team is more fun to watch than it’s been since the early days of Carmelo and Amar’e Stoudemire, and it might have a real chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

And for the first time in a long while, they’re worth watching, too.

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