Why Kristaps Porzingis’ hot shooting in New York was a good sign

Porzingis' hot shooting in New York was a good sign originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Kristaps Porzingis is likely quite happy with the individual numbers he has put up this season. He has played in 40 of the Wizards’ 45 games while raising his averages year-over-year in points (22.2/g), rebounds (8.8/g), field goal percentage (47.1%) and 3-point percentage (34.8%). He’s even averaging career-highs in assists (2.4/g) and steals (1.0/g).

But Porzingis’ scoring numbers could be markedly better if he just made his threes on the road. This season Porzingis is shooting 45.2% from beyond the arc at home compared to just 23.6% in road games. That’s a difference of almost two-to-one.

Wednesday’s win over the Knicks, however, may have been a step in the right direction. Porzingis made 4-of-9 from 3-point range to help lead the Wizards to a 16-for-42 (38.1%) effort overall. It was a huge reason why the Wizards beat the Knicks in New York, as they were outdone in the paint 66-to-44.

Porzingis’ home/road splits have reflected the Wizards collectively this season. Washington is last in the NBA in threes made (9.7/g) and percentage (31.7%) on the road even after their big night against the Knicks. They have been much better at home, ranking 10th in percentage (37.5 and tied with the Warriors) and 14th in made threes (12.4).

For both Porzingis and the Wizards, fixing that disparity may be as simple as making open shots. The Wizards this season make 40.4% of their wide open threes (defender is 6+ feet away) at home compared to just 34.6% on the road. Porzingis knocks down 50% of his wide open threes at Capital One Arena and just 21.2% of those types of shots elsewhere.

Porzingis was able to make the Knicks pay for giving him space on Wednesday night. Granted, it wasn’t a usual road game for him, as he spent three years shooting on those same rims at Madison Square Garden when he began his career with the Knicks.

Porzingis has now made three or more 3-pointers in four consecutive games. In fact, that’s his longest streak since joining the Wizards in a trade last February and one short of his career-best streak, set with the Mavericks back in 2020.

‘The Unicorn’ is feeling it from long range and his recent surge has helped the Wizards open things up on the perimeter. They have attempted 35-plus threes in three straight games now despite averaging 31.7 threes for the season. 

Because of their road struggles, the Wizards rank in the bottom half of the league in 3-point shooting overall this season, despite being above average at home. They are 24th in threes made (11.0/g) and 21st in percentage (34.5%).

It’s probably something for them to keep in mind as they approach the Feb. 9 trade deadline. But if Porzingis can shoot like he did on Wednesday night, that would go a long way as they search for solutions on the perimeter.

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