Kristaps Porzingis was the 7-foot-3 unknown that was expected to one day make significant contributions for the Knicks.
One day turned out to be immediately, as the fourth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft beat out the competition to earn the starting power forward spot on opening night and never looked back.
The forward out of Latvia proved to be dynamic on both ends of the floor, ranking eighth in the NBA in blocks per game (1.8) and total rejections (134) while ranking third among all rookies in 3-point field goals made, with 81.
Porzingis became the tallest player in league history to ever hit more than 80 3-point field goals in a single season.
He also excelled at racing to the rim on the break, routinely slamming him a missed shot from a teammate or just embarrassing opponents by elevating over them in transition.
The Knicks desperately need more production from Porzingis next season, as the team ranked 27th in the NBA in points per game (98.4) and plan on giving him plenty more than the 12.3 shot attempts he had last year.
30. Trevor Booker– Brooklyn Nets
Maybe Brooklyn can draw up a bunch of scenarios where Booker has to improbably beat the shot clock to up his scoring average. Aside from the miraculous over-the-head flip against the Thunder, Booker poured in just 461 points in 1,632 minutes of play. Booker was one of just 10 players to log at least 1,600 minutes and score fewer than 500 points last season. The 6-foot-8 forward has proven to be an effective rebounder throughout his career, averaging 9.2 rebounder per 36 minutes, but the 5.7 he averaged last season isn’t enough to garner a selection in the 2016 fantasy basketball draft.
29. Patrick Patterson– Toronto Raptors
The power forward spot in Toronto has essentially become a revolving door, as Luis Scola, James Johnson and Patterson have all divvied up the minutes, but no one has seized control of the position. Patterson offers the most upside, as he is a viable long range shooter and an effective rebounder, even though he has started just 15.7 percent of his appearances since being selected with the 14th overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft. Patterson is one of seven players 6-foot-9 or taller to convert at least 100 times from 3-point range in each of the past two seasons.
28. Al-Faroq Aminu– Portland Trail Blazers
Aminu was one of just 18 players to appear in all 82 games last season and joined James Harden, Al Horford, Mason Plumlee, Robin Lopez and Karl-Anthony Towns as the only players to start every contest a season ago. The eighth overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft thrived in the expanded role, posting career-highs in scoring, rebounding and assists. Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Aminu combined to average 64.4 minutes a night at the power forward position, with Aminu accounting for 44 percent of those minutes.
27. Amir Johnson– Boston Celtics
During his first season with the Celtics, Johnson accomplished the rarely seen feat of shooting a higher percentage of his shots from the field (58.5 percent) than he did at the free throw line (57 percent). There wasn’t much mystery to his game last season, as the 6-foot-9 forward attempted 257 shots at the rim and launched just 203 attempts from anywhere else on the floor. The result was 120 converted layups and 60 dunks, two out of every three dunk and layups being setup by a pass from a teammate.
26. Taj Gibson– Chicago Bulls
For the first time since his rookie campaign, Gibson spent a majority of his time with Chicago in the starting lineup, the only problem is he failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The former Southern California star was among the Bulls starting five on 55 occasions, but he produced averages of just 9.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Even if Gibson is able to fend off Nikola Mirotic for the starting position in 2016-17, there is a strong chance he will spend less time on the floor than the 6-foot-10 forward out of Montenegro. The two essentially split the available minutes, with Gibson (26.5 minutes per game) slightly edging out Mirotic (24.9).
25. Willie Cauley-Stein– Sacramento Kings
The Kings have been searching for consistent productivity out of the power forward position ever since adding DeMarcus Cousins to the roster six seasons ago. Since being chosen with the fifth overall pick in 2010, the opening night starting power forwards alongside Cousins have been Donte Greene, Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Kosta Koufos. Cauley-Stein had a roller coaster rookie season, as he blocked more shots, posted a higher rebounding total and shot at a higher percentage prior to the All-Star break, then poured in more points and earned more trips to the foul line after the All-Star game.
24. Gorgui Dieng– Minnesota Timberwolves
The emergence of Karl-Anthony Towns, the first overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, stunted the growth of Dieng during his third season with the Timberwolves. Dieng did appear in all 82 contests, but just didn’t experience the jump in production anticipated following a promising sophomore campaign. Dieng put up a career-high 10.1 points per game, but saw his rebounding and block figures fall dramatically. Even though he played nine additional games than his second season in the league, he totaled 24 fewer rebounds and 30 less rejections. With Towns solidifying himself as the primary front court option in Minnesota, Dieng has been reduced to a late round fantasy basketball option.
23. Ersan Ilyasova– Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder supplemented its need for perimeter shooting by landing Ilyasova, essentially a toss-in during the Serge Ibaka trade, in an all-important contract year. Ever since he signed a five-year, $40 million deal, Ilyasova’s numbers have taken a nosedive. The Turkish forward did manage to bury 96 shots from 3-point range as he split time between Detroit and Orlando. The 29-year-old has shot 37 percent from beyond the arc over his eight-year career and replicated the exact mark during as he sank his highest total of long range shots.
22. Marquese Chriss– Phoenix Suns
Last June, Chriss became the first recruit outside of the top 50 rankings to be selected in the top-10 as a one-and-done player since the NBA implemented the policy a decade ago. The unheralded 6-foot-10 forward with the seven-foot wingspan was selected by Sacramento with the eighth overall pick then dealt to the Suns for Bogdan Bogdanovic along with the draft rights to the 13th and 28th overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft and a future pick. The steep price given up by Phoenix indicates the organization believes he can immediately become a vital building block.
21. Markieff Morris– Washington Wizards
Just about every aspect of Morris’ game improved after he was dealt to Washington at the trade deadline. In 27 appearances, he posted 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and decreased his turnovers by .5 a game. By leaving the Suns organization, a place he clearly didn’t belong, his shot seemed to drop with ease. Morris experienced an uptick in field goal percentage, a seven percent increase, and managed to hit 2.7 more of his 3-pointers. A full season in Washington should result in Morris becoming a must-own fantasy player.
20. Chris Bosh– Miami Heat
Doctors have yet to clear Bosh following the discovery of a reoccurrence of blood clotting during All-Star weekend. The 11-time All-Star has been pushing for a return to the court. The progress between Bosh and the organization has been slow, the idea of him playing on blood thinners carries a massive risk. Concerns over blood clotting have forced Bosh to miss a combined 67 games over the past two seasons, but he has taken to social media to display videos of his non-contact workouts, with the hopes of a 14th season in the NBA.
19. Zach Randolph– Memphis Grizzlies
The overall production of Randolph has declined for the past three years, but has yet to fall off a cliff. The 35-year-old managed to post 15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists, the 12th time in his career he averaged at least 15 points and 7.0 rebounds in his career. Memphis continued to feed the ball into Randolph, resulting in 13.3 shot attempts per game, the second highest on the organization last year. Randolph could be entering his final season with the Grizzlies, as his expiring $10 million contract could be used as an asset if Memphis decides to begin a rebuild of its roster.
18. Kenneth Faried– Denver Nuggets
When Faried unexpectedly emerged as a vital piece for Team USA during its gold medal run at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, his stock was at an all-time high. Only his success in Spain has failed to translate back onto an NBA court. Faried posted 12.5 points and 8.7 rebounds a night, numbers slightly below his averages from the previous year. The 26-year-old forward remains a viable fantasy option, as he has established himself as an elite offensive rebounder, pulling down 3.5 a game, tying him with DeAndre Jordan for the second most in the league a year ago.
17. Marvin Williams– Charlotte Hornets
For the first time in his 11-year career, Williams shot over 40 percent from 3-point range. The precision shooting, as he buried a career-high 152 shots from beyond the arc, turned the former North Carolina star into a fantasy sleeper a year ago. Along with his exceptional long range shooting, Williams emerged as an unlikely rim protector, as he was the only player on the Hornets roster to average a block a game. Williams even ranked 12th in the league, holding his opponents to 45.7 percent shooting from the field, and that figure increased to the fourth highest in the league among all players to log at least 1,900 minutes.
16. Thaddeus Young– Indiana Pacers
The 6-foot-8 forward used his speed and athleticism to become one of just 20 players to grab at least nine rebounds a night last season. While Young doesn’t possess a reliable outside shot, he still managed to qualify as a stretch four, as his ability to take larger defenders off the dribble propelled him to 15.1 points per game, second only to Brook Lopez on the Nets. Indiana landed Young by sending the 20th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft and the rights to a future second round pick to Brooklyn.
15. Jabari Parker– Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee is hoping the statistics Parker put up after the All-Star break — as he posted 18.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 28 games — are truly reflective of the contributions the second overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft can provide when healthy. Parker’s rookie campaign was derailed 25 games into the season as he tore his left ACL. Prior to All-Star weekend, the former Duke star struggled to make an impact in Milwaukee, as he averaged 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night.
14. Julius Randle– Los Angeles Lakers
Randle needed to wait 81 games to truly begin his rookie season. The seventh overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft broke his right leg just 14 minutes into his professional career, an injury that forced him to miss the rest of his debut season. When he returned, Randle joined Karl-Anthony Towns as the only players in the league under the age of 22 to average at least 10 points and 10 rebounds a night last season. Once again Randle is dealing with an injury, as a laceration on his right hand required seven stitches over the summer, but he is expected to be a full participant in training camp for Los Angeles.
13. Nerlens Noel– Philadelphia 76ers
Through the first 142 games of his career, Noel has yet to transform into the prolific shot blocker Philadelphia had anticipated when dealing for him on draft night. During his lone season at Kentucky, Noel set an NCAA single-season freshman record as he swatted 186 shots in just 24 appearances. The 6-foot-11 forward is one of just 11 players to reject at least 100 shots in each of the past two seasons. Dealing the 22-year-old now, as he has been linked to numerous trade rumors, could prove to be a mistake for the 76ers.
12. Tobias Harris– Detroit Pistons
A trade to Detroit at the deadline reinvigorated Harris. The 24-year-old forward thrived during his time under coach Stan Van Gundy, as his field goal and 3-point shooting became much more accurate, leading to averages of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.The shot attempts for Harris increased to 12.9 a night, a figure that would have been the second highest of his career. The 6-foot-8 forward excelled as the third option in the offense behind Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, resulting in seven 20-point performances in just 27 appearances in a Pistons uniform.
11. Derrick Favors– Utah Jazz
A team in search of a complimentary front court player in the fourth or fifth round of the fantasy basketball draft should try and target Favors. For the second straight year, Favors posted averages of 16 points and 8.0 rebounds, while converting over 50 percent of his attempts from the field. Favors has been one of the most consistent shot blockers in the league, joining only Anthony Davis, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Serge Ibaka as the only players in the NBA to average at least 1.5 rejections for each of the least four seasons.
10. Ryan Anderson– Houston Rockets
Anderson was seemingly destined to play in an offense coached by Mike D’Antoni. The Rockets will draw up numerous ways for Anderson to punish opponents from beyond the arc, his specialty. The 6-foot-10 forward is the tallest player to ever lead the league in 3-point field goals made and has knocked down 37.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc during his eight-year career. New Orleans started Anderson just 48 times during his 230 appearances with the team, even though he ranked second on the team in scoring last season. D’Antoni won’t be afraid to unleash Anderson, and the result could be exceptional for his owners in fantasy basketball.
9. Dirk Nowitzki– Dallas Mavericks
Nowitzki needs just 509 points to become the sixth player in league history to score 30,000 career points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. The 38-year-old forward registered his 509th point 30 games into the season a year ago as he chipped in 18.3 points per game, a one point increase from his previous campaign. Dallas anticipates on keeping Nowitkzi as the focal point of its offensive attack, signing him to a two-year extension over the summer after reportedly drawing interest from Golden State.
8. Serge Ibaka– Orlando Magic
Ibaka never demanded, or expected, to be dealt from Oklahoma City but is looking forward to becoming a primary option on offense for the Magic. Orlando brought Ibaka in to serve as a defensive anchor, a staple for coach Frank Vogel throughout his career, but will require him to provide a scoring punch, a bonus as he enters free agency this summer. The expanded role is something Ibaka anticipated last season under Thunder coach Billy Donovan, but the results were fewer minutes spent on the floor and 11.1 shot attempts a night, his lowest in the past three years.
7. Kevin Love– Cleveland Cavaliers
Since joining the Cavaliers, Love is no longer and automatic double-double. The three-time All-Star posted 65 double-doubles (along with three triple-doubles) in 77 appearances during his final season with the Timberwolves. After being acquired by Cleveland, and reduced to the third option in the offense, Love has tallied 73 double-doubles during 152 games over the span of two seasons and has yet to even flirt with a triple-double. Love has never dished out more than six assists since joining the Cavaliers.
6. Kristaps Porzingis– New York Knicks
There hasn’t been much of a break for Porzingis this summer. The Latvian forward spent the first portion of his time off rehabbing an injured shoulder with his brother during a trip home. Once he was fully recovered, Porzingis has conducted workout sessions with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in preparation of his sophomore season. Porzingis quickly emerged as one of the most promising prospects in the league last season, using his length, agility and athleticism to register 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The long range shooting ability of Porzingis didn’t translate to the NBA last season, as he converted 33.3 percent of his attempts, if he can get that number to climb near 40 percent, he would instantly vault himself as one of the top-25 players in the league.
5. LaMarcus Aldridge– San Antonio Spurs
Following the All-Star break, Aldridge began to live up to his lofty billing in fantasy basketball. The combination of adjusting to a new organization, plus the dramatic reduction in shot opportunities resulted in five fewer points, nearly two fewer rebounds and a decline in assist numbers from Aldridge’s final season in Portland. Aldridge recovered from a slow start in the second half of the season, posting 19.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 points and 1.2 assists per game, numbers more in line during his time with the Trail Blazers.
4. Paul Millsap– Atlanta Hawks
Since the turn of the century only six players: Ben Wallace, Shawn Marion, Andrei Kirilenko, Josh Smith, Nerlens Noel and Millsap have tallied at least 130 blocks and 130 steals in the same season. Listed at 6-foot-8, Millsap obliterated his personal single-season block record, as his 139 rejections were 40 more than he has ever posted during his 10-year career. The addition of Dwight Howard in the middle not only provides another potent rim protector in Atlanta, but sets up Millsap for additional weak-side block opportunities, making him an elite fantasy performer.
3. Blake Griffin– Los Angeles Clippers
After a foolish decision cost him the majority of his 2015-16 season, Griffin has spent little time resting during the summer. The five-time All-Star has only spent two weeks off this summer, opting to work his way back into game shape following a strange year. Griffin injured his a thigh tendon and during his time off, traveled with the team. At a dinner with a Los Angeles equipment manager, Griffin punched him in the face and broke a bone in his hand, drawing a four-game suspension once his health returned. The result was just 35 appearances, but he still proved to do it all, averaging 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists a night.
2. Draymond Green– Golden State Warriors
Few players in league history have ever made the wide array of contributions Green did last season. Only four players: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Fat Lever and Grant Hill had ever posted 14 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game prior to Green’s performance last season. The runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting added 1.4 blocks per game and connected on 38.8 percent of his attempts from 3-point range. The only question facing Green is if the addition of Kevin Durant will handcuff his abilities to impact the Warriors in each statistical category.
1. Anthony Davis– New Orleans Pelicans
Davis missed the opportunity to win a second Olympics gold medal this summer as he underwent surgery on his kneecap, correcting an injury that cost him the final 14 games of the regular season. The promising news came earlier this month, as Pelicans general manager Dell Demps revealed the three-time All-Star will not face any medical restrictions as he enters his fifth season in the NBA. The first overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft averaged 24.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a night, but didn’t provide the elite shot blocking that has propelled his stock in fantasy basketball. Fully healthy and entering his second season with coach Alvin Gentry has Davis poised for a special year.
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