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How Kristaps Porzingis's long-limbed perimeter defense creates steals

Kristaps wants the ball. You must give it to him!

Kristaps Porzingis' game can not be judged in the same way as other, human men. He is a seven-foot, three-inch snowflake, with basketball skills that simply don't make sense coming from a man of his size.

To wit, when I look at Krispy's greatest contributions over the first two games, one thing that really stands out is his ability to force steals on the perimeter. It's a talent you'd expect to see from Tony Allen or Kawhi Leonard, not a seven-foot rookie with questionable footwork. But our boy is full of surprises -- his instincts, activity level and sheer, monstrous length combine to make things tough on passers and ball-handlers.

Porzingis only nabbed one steal in the season opener, but he was directly responsible for at least two of Sasha Vujacic's four swipes. Here, he and Jose Calderon gift-wrap a steal for the Machine with a beautiful halfcourt trap.

Zingy's man (Chris Copeland!) tries to free up Michael Carter-Williams with a half-hearted screen, but Zinger wisely moves to pin the ball-handler between Calderon and the boundary. Carter-Williams panics, and Vujacic is more than happy to take the ball off his hands.

This next steal is all-Zinger:

Seth called this move "hedging a pick-and-roll with one arm." I call it "throwing a trained, ball-hunting king cobra at the ball-handler." Everybody wants to focus on his lack of upper-body strength when the ball is in his hands, but damn is he ever quick with those 15-feet-long arms.

The Knicks didn't play much defense the following night against Atlanta, but Kristaps did grab three steals. I particularly enjoyed this play -- not because of how it ended (which was also cool!), but because of how it started. New York always struggles to guard stretch 4s (and stretch 3s, and stretch 2s), not only due to a lack of quickness, or not fighting over screens, but because they collectively forget to guard the perimeter. The ball goes into the paint, five Knicks are drawn to the ball like a litter of puppies, and the ball is kicked out to an open shooter.

Not this time.

Kristaps's man, Paul Millsap, is a threat from beyond the arc, and Zingis Khan treats him as such. He tracks Al Horford as he dribbles through the paint, but he never loses sight of Millsap. As Clyde says 20 times a game, he saw the ball and his man, which left him in perfect position to pick off a lazy pass.

As with Robin Lopez, it's difficult to judge Porzingis's overall defense playing behind the notorious Calderon/Vujacic backcourt. Opposing ball-handlers can beat their men at will, which throws the rest of the D into chaos. And Krispy obviously has a great deal to learn on both sides of the ball. But he has already shown an aptitude for mucking up pick-and-rolls and causing trouble for players looking to spot up for 3. It's hard to fathom a more useful skill to add to this Knicks team.