Kristaps Porzingis Vs. Jahlil Okafor Is The NBA Rivalry Of The Future
...Or something like that.
Last night, the New York Knicks NBA Summer League squad went up against the Philadelphia 76ers' (which has been a Summer League team for the past four regular seasons, if we're being honest), giving us our first taste of what could very well be a decade-long rivalry between two very tall, very nimble bigs selected third and fourth in the same draft (where they curiously wore the same exact outfit). For the next three years (at least), Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis will play just 90 miles away from each other in their respective once-great basketball cities; cities that desperately need some new reasons to get excited about the sport that defines them. If Tuesday night was any indication, Sixers and Knicks fans could be looking at four or more memorable Goliath vs. Goliath match-ups each season for the foreseeable future, as it has become clear Porzingis and Okafor desperately want to prove they're the better player.
Think of Porzingis-Okafor as the millennial version of Garnett-Duncan. (Ok, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.)
The rivalry is still a pipedream, obviously, and the Summer League isn't much of a barometer of anything, but watching these two huge 19-year-olds going tit for tat (in a game that went into overtime, mind you) is a promising start to something that could be exceptionally awesome very soon.
It's not like the "compelling NBA drama" bar has been set very high for either of these team's fan bases, so calling Jah vs. Kris "an epic rivalry" at this point isn't as much of a stretch as it may seem.
Okafor finished with six boards and 19 points on 8-18 shooting, while Porzingis (nine points, three rebounds) continued his streak of shooting well over 50%, getting to line and knocking down free throws. He also stuffed Okafor three times...
Then squared up and nailed a stepback 23-footer in Okafor's face after getting pushed out of the paint...
Only to get blown by Okafor a few plays later...
This is the kind of stuff we can expect from these two going forward: the stronger Okafor overpowering the rail-thin Porzingis, who in turn, pulls Okafor out from underneath the basket with his incredible range. How fucking awesome is that?
Full game highlights, below.
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