Throughout his NBA career, Kristaps Porzingis has gained the reputation of being a soft big man due to his slender body frame. According to the New York Daily News, Dallas Mavericks perimeter player Wesley Matthews called him “soft and sweet” at the end of the game on January 6th, 2018. This is because Matthews was able to push “him around, hip tossing him, cursing at him, fighting him for position in the post.” Kristaps’s issues with physicality are directly related to his inability to add muscle mass to his body frame to back down the defender on a consistent basis. As a result, every time Porzingis is told to post up he is forced to turn around and shoot over the defender because he can’t back him down. Due to this, a team should abandon the idea of a Kristaps Porzingis post up and strictly use him as a screener in the pick and roll. Kristaps playing the role of a screener allows him to pop out or roll to the basket depending on what the defender does. For instance, if his defender decides to come up and defend the point guard, he can roll to the basket. On the other hand, if his defender chooses to stay back, he can pop out to the three-point line.
Therefore, a team would need to surround Porzingis with one or two perimeter players who are comfortable running the pick and roll. For instance, James Harden, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook are all used to bringing the ball up to the three-point line and asking for a screen. Once the pick was set they pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action. For instance, if the defender went under the screen, these players will go over it and take the open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, they will go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he can score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not.
As a result of this, the defense will be forced to choose one of three options, focus on stopping the perimeter player which will leave Kristaps open or with single coverage. On the other hand, they can zero in on paying attention to Kristaps leading to the perimeter player being left open or having single coverage. Lastly, the defense can decide to double team both of the players which means that the other three players will be open or single covered.
Not only Kristaps need players who are comfortable running the pick and roll, but he also needs players who can shoot the three-pointer and play outstanding defense. This is because Kristaps is occasionally susceptible to blow-bys when defending guards on the perimeter due to slower lateral movement. As a result of this, a team should target players like Matthew Dellavedova, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Snell and Paul George. All of these players shoot above 36 percent from behind the arc for their careers and are known as excellent defenders. For example, these players will crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, they will go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.
In conclusion, if a team were to fill out the roster with those type of players, it would give Kristaps Porzingis the best opportunity to make a deep playoff run and possibly a championship. This is because it will increase the likelihood of Kristaps being energized for the majority of the season and getting more wide open looks at the basket.