Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards dunks against the Boston Celtics during a game at Capital One Arena on March 28, 2023. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis is now a member of the Boston Celtics. In honor of his choice to wear No. 8 in Boston, here are eight things that every Celtics fan may like to know about Porzingis…

He’s a legitimate third scoring option

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards looks to pass around Kenrich Williams #34 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half at Capital One Arena on November 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards looks to pass around Kenrich Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder during a game at Capital One Arena. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Apologies to Marcus Smart fans, but he never was and never will be a legitimate top-3 scoring option. Replacing him with Porzingis gives the Celtics a strong No.3 scorer behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

In his career, Porzingis has averaged 22.7 points per 36 minutes. He doesn’t score as efficiently as a traditional big man would, as a career 45.3 percent shooter from the field. But he tends to make up for it by being an uncommonly skilled long-range shooter for a 7-footer (35.9 percent career rate from three-point range) and by consistently making over 80 percent of his free throws.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 07: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards celebrates a basket against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center on December 07, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards celebrates a basket against the Chicago Bulls during a game at United Center. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

On top of that, Porzingis’ skill set is more what the Celtics want from their bigs, and it’s become more of a trend across the NBA in recent years. Even still, Porzingis has improved his low post game. He tied with fellow tall European stars Nikola Jokić and Luka Dončić for the highest scoring frequency on low-post plays last season (60 percent).

Porzingis arrives to Boston with other questions and concerns that are fair to raise (more on that below), but there’s little doubt about his ability to impact the game at the offensive end, and in a variety of ways, which not a lot of centers in the NBA can say.

  • He’s got a troubling injury history

    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards dribbles against Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Capital One Arena on March 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards dribbles against Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets during a game at Capital One Arena on March 22, 2023. (Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

    When Porzingis played 65 games last season for the Washington Wizards, it felt like a minor miracle. He had averaged 48.1 games played over the previous seven years, which included missing the entire 2018-19 season with a torn ACL.

    He also needed surgery for a torn meniscus in 2020, and has dealt with your other typical big man injuries. Feet, ankles. He missed time with a wrist injury in 2021.

    So, the biggest question for Porzingis – for the rest of his career, really – is staying on the court. Because the talent is certainly there.

  • He’s efficient from three, for a big

    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards shoots against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at Capital One Arena on March 24, 2023 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards shoots against the San Antonio Spurs during a game at Capital One Arena. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Porzingis has been called a “unicorn” during his NBA career, mainly because of his uncommonly sharp shooting ability for a 7-foot-3 player. He shot 38.5 percent from downtown last season, which doesn’t sound dominant on paper, but it’s a great rate for a 7-footer.

    Among all NBA players 7 feet or taller, only the Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen (39.1 percent) shot better from downtown than Porzingis. So, in Boston, you can expect the big guy to rain triples on a lot of nights.

  • He’s an underrated defender

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 06: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles past Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards during the first half at Capital One Arena on February 06, 2023 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles past Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards during a game at Capital One Arena on Feb. 6, 2023. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Porzingis may have unfairly earned a reputation as a guy who can score a lot of points but sucks on defense. We say “unfairly” because that’s really not accurate. According to stats provided by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Porzingis last season ranked fourth in the NBA in points allowed per pick & roll (0.93), just a tick behind Giannis Antetokounmpo (0.92).

    He’s also improving as a pure rim protector in recent years, leading Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards to call him the best in the NBA back in 2021. So as long as he and the Celtics commit to playing better defense next season, Porzingis should be more an asset than a liability at that end.

  • He’s by far the best NBA player ever from Latvia

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards reacts against the Charlotte Hornets during the second half at Capital One Arena on February 08, 2023 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards reacts against the Charlotte Hornets during a game at Capital One Arena. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Maybe some historians and purists would still rank Porzingis behind some of the Latvian greats from the first half of the 20th century – look up Jānis Krūmiņš – but as far as NBA players, no one can touch Porzingis.

    At 19.6 career points, Porzingis has averaged more than double the next-closest Latvian player in the NBA since 1947 – which is Davis Bertans (7.8 points). The two were coincidentally traded for each other in 2022.

  • He can really pass the ball

    Porzingis is best known for his shooting and has only posted 1.8 assists per game in his career. But you can see in the above highlights that the skill is certainly there to pass well for a guy his size.

    He has a chance to put up career-best assist numbers in Boston, as merely the No. 3 scoring option in an offense that values spacing and ball movement, and with two All-NBA teammates to finish for him.

  • He’s an elite free-throw shooter

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 07: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards shoots a free throw against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at United Center on December 07, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards shoots a free throw against the Chicago Bulls during a game at United Center. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Porzingis ranked just 38th in the NBA in free-throw percentage last season. But at 85.1 percent, Porzingis was the third-best player over 7 feet tall from the line.

    Only Lauri Markkanen (87.5) and Joel Embiid (85.7) were better among the big boys. So, Celtics fans can rest assured they won’t have to deal with a clunky free-throw shooter like the typical center.

  • He’s barely in the top-20 tallest players ever

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards reacts during a game. (Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards reacts during a game. (Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

    Porzingis may be absolutely huge, but at “only” 7-foot-3, he’s about 17th all-time in terms of height. Manute Bol and Gheorghe Mureșan (7-foot-7) had him easily. Little fun fact for you. Just goes to show how large the humans get in that league.

  • More on the Celtics…

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 09: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Washington Wizards against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 09, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards handles the ball during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    There’s still more to watch out for in the Boston Celtics’ 2023 off-season, mainly the news and rumors on Jaylen Brown’s supermax contract. We’ve got you covered here at 985TheSportsHub.com.

  • Click here for complete Boston Celtics coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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