Sunday, March 26 2023

Wizards enjoying peak Porzingis right now originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — Those who attended Wizards games this weekend at Capital One Arena were treated to the full Kristaps Porzingis experience. The Wizards big man scored 31 points on Saturday in a win over the Jazz, then 25 to beat the Grizzlies on Sunday. He made 10 threes between those two games, a few on steback dribbles and one to beat a first-half buzzer. He blocked four shots and threw down a vicious putback slam that will certainly be on the Wizards’ end-of-season highlight reel.

Porzingis is thriving in Washington. The Wizards have won four-straight games and sit 8-6 on the year, with Porzingis as one of the key ingredients. With Bradley Beal out and Kyle Kuzma not on his game Sunday, Porzingis was the star of the show.

“He’ll make moves here and there that kind of shock you,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of the 7-foot-3 modern marvel. “You see it every day and you may take it for granted, but there aren’t too many people in the world that are capable of doing what he does.”

Porzingis delivered a lightning strike in the second quarter when he erupted for 14 points, including four threes. Only one Wizards player has scored more in a single quarter this season. It was also Porzingis, with 17 on Oct. 31 against the Sixers.

That scoring surge embodied the upside Porzingis presents. He can take over games and when he’s healthy, he can reach a point that is unstoppable.

So far this season, Porzingis has been healthy, for the most part. He missed Thursday’s game against the Mavs, his former team, due to a groin strain. But he’s appeared in 13 of the Wizards’ 14 games with averages of 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. He’s shooting 48.9% from the field and 38.7% from three. The field goal percentage and assists are career-highs.

Porzingis believes he has found a great fit with the Wizards.

“I absolutely love it here… I feel like it’s the right place for me,” he said.

After Sunday’s game, he reiterated some reasons why that is. Things like how Washington, D.C. is closer to home in Latvia and also closer in its time zone, so he can more easily keep in touch with family.

But on Sunday, he gave more details on why he thinks the basketball fit is a good one. He told radio analyst Glenn Consor during his walk-off interview at Capital One Arena that he really likes the “type of basketball” the Wizards are playing. He elaborated further later on in the locker room.

“Just the way we’re playing for each other. We’re making the extra pass, we’re cutting for each other. We’re doing some little things that might not be as visible, but those are the actual things that help us win,” Porzingis said.

“Once we get Brad back, that’s going to take more pressure off of everybody else and he can be the focal point of the offense and that’s going to open everything up for everybody else. That’s just going to give us more gunpowder or ammunition.”

Unseld Jr. designs a lot of the Wizards’ offense around Porzingis. He likes to run plays through him in the high post and in other areas that suit Porzingis’ strengths.

The coach also strives for an equal opportunity offense, where players share the ball no matter their resumes.

“I think he likes the way we play, it fits his style of game,” Unseld Jr. said. “Just the way we space, when we space the floor correctly and we do move the ball, who wouldn’t want to play that way?”

Porzingis also credited a productive summer for how he’s started this season. He enjoyed playing for his national team, took care of his body and made minor tweaks to his shooting routine to recreate game situations. It sounds simple, but it has worked: he now practices wearing the same equipment that he does in games. For instance, he will practice in a shooting sleeve, when in previous years he would only put one on for games.

Whatever the reason for his hot start, the Wizards are reaping the benefits. They knew they got a player with a ton of potential when they traded for Porzingis in February and right now we’re seeing what it looks like when he is at his peak powers.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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