Porzingis sees room to improve on 'D' after guarding Green

NEW YORK -- We've all seen the highlight dunks from Kristaps Porzingis. We've seen the tantalizing 3-point shots and the ridiculous blocks.

But Porzingis' season has also been filled with important lessons. Lessons borne of the inevitable struggles that come with being a rookie in the NBA.

And Porzingis may have learned another lesson on Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors.

"I think I saw just how much better defensively I've got to be," he said.

This revelation from Porzingis came shortly after he spent the night chasing Draymond Green, whose triple-double fueled another blowout win for Golden State, 116-95.

Green finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while being guarded for long stretches by Porzingis.

"It was a learning experience," the rookie said.

And class was in session early on Sunday.

On one of the Knicks' first possessions, Green drew on offensive foul on the 20-year-old. Shortly thereafter, Green drove by Porzingis and the rookie grabbed him, picking up his second foul 90 seconds into the game.

The pattern of Green hurting the Knicks continued for the rest of the night.

He hit all nine of his shots and found his teammates again and again as the Warriors outscored the Knicks by 27 during his time on the floor. On several occasions, Green used the threat of a perimeter shot to drive past Porzingis for open layups.

"I've just got to know who I'm guarding and learn from that," Porzingis said.

Some may look at what happened Sunday and try to conclude that Porzingis is a sub-par defender. But it's always silly to draw too much from one NBA game.

If nothing else, Sunday night showed that Porzingis probably needs to improve his foot speed in order to stay with the undersized frontcourt players who currently dot the NBA landscape.

The rookie certainly hasn't been bad on defense thus far. Opponents guarded by Porzingis are shooting four percent less than expected, per NBA.com research. That is a strong number.

And he becomes better when he's closer to the rim.

On shots taken within six feet of the rim, Porzingis' opponents are shooting 10 percent less than expected.

He also leads all rookies with 1.94 blocks per game (entering Sunday).

So there's no reason to look at Sunday's game and come away overly concerned about Porzingis' defense. But his foot speed on the perimeter may be something to keep an eye on.

Since the NBA is trending toward smaller players on the front line, this could be a critical area of development for the Knicks rookie. And it sounds as if it's one he's eager to address.

"If this is where basketball is going, I want to be on the floor in important moments ... so I'll learn from this," he said.