NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis didn't just clear the rookie wall this week; he threw down one of his Vine-worthy tip dunks over it.
In doing so, he gave everyone a reminder of the many ways he can impact a game. Porzingis hit 3-pointers and scored in the paint, blocked shots and grabbed rebounds. Heck, he even "pulled the chair" on Pau Gasol Wednesday.
"He's going to be one of those rare guys who's going to impact the game offensively and defensively," Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis says.
It's hard to find anyone who will argue Rambis' point. In a big-picture sense, it seems only injury or apathy can keep Porzingis from being an elite player.
But when the rookie hit a rough patch recently, shooting 33 percent over a nine-game stretch, observers started to look for answers.
Some, like Phil Jackson, attributed the rookie's struggles to the physical demands of the NBA schedule. Others believed that Rambis -- and his old-school approach -- had impacted Porzingis' development.
That last point is an important one, as it could have a direct impact on the Knicks' future.
If Jackson believes Porzingis can't flourish under Rambis, then he can't consider his longtime friend for the Knicks' head coaching vacancy.
But it's worth noting here that the numbers don't necessarily support the "it's all Rambis' fault" theory.
Porzingis' minutes (28.2 under Derek Fisher, 28.0 under Rambis), shot attempts (12.0 under Fisher, 13.3 under Rambis) and 3-point shot attempts (3.2 under Fisher, 3.8 under Rambis) haven't changed significantly since Rambis took over.
Sure, Rambis wants Porzingis to improve his post play, but the statistics show he hasn't asked the rookie to operate with his back to the basket more often.
Under Fisher, Porzingis had 57.5 touches per game, 2.6 of which came in the post, per NBA.com. He attempted 1.6 shots out of the post per game.
Under Rambis, Porzingis has had 57 touches per game, 3.0 of which came in the post. He's attempted 1.8 shots out of the post per game.
Reasonable people can disagree over the utility of asking the 7-foot-3 Porzingis to operate in the post, or over Rambis' usage of Porzingis or any other Rambis-Porzingis issue.
But the rookie himself sees post play as an area to address this offseason, particularly because of its importance in the Knicks' triangle offense.
"If I want to be a good player in the triangle, I've got to be able to play in the post," he says. "My game basically now is just a face up game, so that's one thing I really want to work on -- to learn from (Robin Lopez) for example. His hook shot is unstoppable basically and if I can add that to my game, that will really help us."
Rambis also doesn't want Porzingis to play exclusively in the post; he'd just like him to work on his scoring in the paint. Specifically, Rambis has asked the rookie to cut more frequently from the perimeter to the paint -- something he did in the two games against Chicago.
"We want him to dive so now he's getting more in rebound position; it also helps balance out our offense," Rambis said.
Chicago's defense was forced to react to Porzingis' cuts, and it worked out well. Porzingis broke out of his mini-slump, and reminded Knicks fans of the player they fell in love with over the first three months of the season. And he did all of this while Rambis was on the bench. Imagine that.
Is Rambis the right coach for Porzingis going forward? Again, reasonable people can disagree on this. But it seems misguided to blame Rambis for all of Porzingis' struggles in recent weeks.