New York Knicks interim head coach Kurt Rambis picked an odd time to call out rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks knocked off the Orlando Magic 108-95 Friday night, and Porzingis was second on the team in scoring with 18 points on seven-of-15 shooting.
However, after the game Rambis was critical of the rookie’s shot selection, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
“He is talented. There’s no getting around that,” Rambis said. “At some point he is going to be phenomenal but he is still going through a growth process. There are shots out there that he takes that I flat out don’t like. We are working on his decision-making in those situations.”
No doubt Rambis has a good point, but it seems like it’s one that would be better suited to a private conversation with the rookie, rather than a media blast. It’s not like Porzingis went off on a shooting spree and missed most of the shots he took.
And, as Rambis went on to say, any shot-selection issues he has can be attributed to his youth.
“It is very typical of young players. That is part of the process they go through. We are still working and encouraging him to be more productive whether it is the elbow or the block.”
The only thing that isn’t typical about this entire thing is the manner in which Rambis expressed himself.
Saying something like, “There are shots out there that he takes that I flat out don’t like” has quite a negative connotation to it. It’s the kind of comment you’d expect a coach to make after an exasperating night of poor shooting that cost a team the win.
Rambis clearly wants Porzingis to work more in the post to take advantage of his 7-foot-3 frame. And while he did miss all his his three-point attempts Friday night, he only took three of them.
Porzingis will be just fine in the long run. He has everything he needs to succeed from a physical standpoint, and he seems to be in great shape mentally as well, given the small sample size we’ve seen.
The one thing the Knicks cannot afford to happen at this point is for the rookie to have his confidence shaken. It’s with that in mind that Rambis’ public criticism comes across as ill-advised.