Anyways, here the case for him as the number one (a series by Chad Ford, who makes the case for each of the five guys he thinks are worthy of the no. 1 pick). Look in the other player threads for their stories (Towns, Russell, Mudiay - with Okafor still coming up).
http://www.espn.co.uk/basketball/inside ... -no-1-pick
Boom or bust
Porzingis' season in Spain went as well as one could hope for a 19-year-old playing in the ACB -- the toughest league in Europe. Sevilla hired former NBA assistant coach Scott Roth to helm the team. Roth quickly implemented NBA style offensive set and began mentoring Porzingis.
He had been an assistant coach with the Mavericks when they drafted Dirk Nowitzki and again with the Grizzlies when they took Pau Gasol. He also worked with Jonas Valanciunas in Toronto his rookie year. Roth knew what it took to transform an international big man into a NBA star and knew this year in Spain would be huge to his development.
"He handled himself really well," Roth told ESPN. "He's very mature for his age. He has a great family and a base around him. He's a great, humble kid who's a worker. He's very competitive. He has a lot of intensity and competitive fight in him. That's the most critical component to his success in my opinion."
Within weeks, Roth began to see shades of both Dirk and Pau in his game. Shades Roth believes will translate from Spain to the NBA.
"He's going to make open shots," Roth said. "You're going to have to guard him from 15 feet to the 3-point line. His stroke is great. I had Dirk as a rookie. Dirk had more range. But the fluidity and grace of the shot is Dirk-like. He's athletic enough to run the floor. He's deceivingly good as a weak side shot blocker. He's actually very good down in the post. He just doesn't have the strength to maintain his position in the paint. And maybe most importantly, no one will out work him."
Porzingis responded to the challenge well. While his numbers in Spain (11.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG 46 percent 3-point shooting in 20 MPG in the Eurocup and 10.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 31 percent 3-point shooting in 21 MPG in the ACB) might not wow you, they were very good for a player his age.
In front of a gaggle of NBA scouts in late March he dropped 18 points, grabbed six boards and shot 2-for-4 from 3 in a game against the best team in the ACB -- FC Barcelona.
Our own Kevin Pelton, projected his WARP as 3.4 -- good for second among any prospect in the draft (D'Angelo Russell ranked No. 1 by a sliver at a projected 3.7 WARP)
Wrote Pelton: "At the age of 19, Porzingis has been a valuable contributor for Sevilla in the ACB -- one of the best national leagues in Europe -- as well as the intercontinental EuroCup competition. Based on his translated statistics, Porzingis could come to the NBA and competently play rotation minutes right away. Porzingis has shown range to the slightly shorter FIBA 3-point line, making 38 percent of his 3-pointers this season across all competitions. His combination of blocks and steals is also solid."
And the teams that did the most homework always came away impressed with what they saw on the court.
Here was what one NBA GM told me in early April after seeing Porzingis play against Barcelona:
"I was watching him warm up and had flashbacks to when I saw Pau Gasol take the floor for the first time in Spain, only this kid is much more athletic than Gasol and plays with that same fluidity. I've been asking my team since then: Are you sure he's not the No. 1 guy? Are these guys in college really better than him?"
All year I got calls as teams returned from Spain asking me the same question. "Why isn't this kid in the discussion for the No. 1 pick?" I always responded the same way:
"That's the question I'm asking you."
In short, the buzz Porzingis generated in his workout isn't just some sort of workout voodoo. Teams that scouted his games in Spain were coming away similarly smitten.
And therein lies the biggest dilemma for Porzingis. There was a time when having a foreign sounding last name improved your draft standing by 10 to 15 points. After the success of Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Andrei Kirilenko (Gasol, Parker and Kirilenko all made NBA All-Rookie first team in 2001-02) it was "in" to be international.
But then Nikoloz Tskitishvili (the fact I still remember how to spell his name probably tells you how excited I was about him in the 2002 draft), Darko Milicic (I was the charter member of his fan club), Pavel Podkolzin (who put on the most electric NBA team workout I've ever been to before discovering he had a dangerous pituitary problem), Andrea Bargnani (the guy who was supposed to give international players a good name after a series of high profile busts), Yi Jianlin (who was better at dunking on chairs than real people) and a host of other highly touted international players that failed to live up to the hype, changed all of that.
Fool me once and well ... it happens in the draft. Fool me twice, three, four times and you have to start looking inward.
Since then there have been a few hits. Ricky Rubio, Valanciunas, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dennis Schroder and Nikola Mirotic have all started making their mark in the NBA. But none of them have reached the success of players like Dirk, Pau or Parker.
And that's why Porzingis hasn't gotten any buzz at No. 1. Because when you ask GMs about him they all say the same thing. "I love him, I'm just not sure who has the balls to take him ahead of more established guys like Towns or Okafor or Russell."
More established? Sevilla played against teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona that would've killed Duke in the NCAA Championship game. The silly debate about whether Kentucky could've beaten the 76ers? I don't know an NBA scout who thinks they could've beaten any top team in Europe, let alone the NBA.
"Established has nothing to do with it," one long-time NBA scout told me in Vegas. "That's code for, 'I won't get fired if I draft Okafor and he turns into Greg Oden. But I will get fired if Porzingis is the next Darko.'"
Especially in a draft that looks eerily similar to 2003 when LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh went one through five. Like that draft, if the 2015 one has a top five, four grew up and played in the U.S. Only one has spent his entire career overseas. No one wants to have an epic bust among the top five again.
Roth, for one, isn't worried. "Most of the international guys that busted didn't love the game," he said. "They failed because of a lack of passion and work ethic. It was convenient for them to come over and make a lot of money. Zinger's more in the Dirk mode, in that you can't get him out of the gym. He's also more in the Gasol mode, because he's so skilled.
"I hate to throw Dirk's name out there so flippantly. He's been so great. I don't think anyone thought when we drafted him he'd be this great. Zinger has some characteristics of Pau. Some of Dirk. But what he becomes? I can't tell you. But I don't think he'll be a bust. At worst he's a really good player. At best, a potential all-star. He's just too skilled, and too competitive to fail."