When the New York Knicks took European star Kristaps Porzingis with the number 4 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, a common reaction, aside from Knicks fans throwing their televisions out their windows, was “man, that kid is skinny.” Kevin Durant was skinny when he was taken by the now defunct Seattle Supersonics in 2007 (he still is), but Porzingis is on another level. Packing just 230 pounds on his elongated 7-foot frame, he resembles a golden retriever after a bath.
There are many unknowns about Porzingis and how he’ll fare in the NBA, but the consensus among those in the know is that he doesn’t have much of a chance against the league’s level of physicality unless he bulks up. The task is more complicated than simply adding pounds. That would slow Porzingis down if bulk were added in the wrong way. So how should Porzingis go about adding strength without affecting the best parts of his game?
According to STACK’s Andy Haley, Porzingis, and other big men like him, have difficulty moving around because of their size. So when he hits the weight room, it’s important for Porzingis to focus on mastering basic exercises, attempting to move through as much of a range of motion as he’s comfortable with.
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For instance, in the video above, Porzingis performs weighted Squats. Although his form isn’t the worst we’ve ever seen, it can be difficult for guys of his height to go through a full range of motion, especially when they need to get low. To reduce stress on the body, Haley recommends the Quarter Squat.
But this video of Porzingis’s workout from his days in the Euroleague is not all bad. Haley approves of the Push-Up to Dumbbell Press and the TRX Inverted Row, both of which will strengthen Porzingis’s upper body, which he desperately needs to do if he expects to guard any man of his size in the post. Haley also suggests Trap Bar Deadlifts off Blocks for upper-body strength.
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Porzingis will also need to strengthen his core so he can be balanced and strong under the rim when going for rebounds, boxing out or driving to the hoop, which he appears agile enough to do. Planks are critical for increasing his core strength. Haley also recommends the Dead Bug and variations thereof, which a man of Porzingis’s size can execute without too much difficulty.
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It remains to be seen whether Porzingis’s NBA path will lead to success or failure, but one thing is certain—getting into the gym and working out as soon as he can will be a huge first step in the young prospect’s development.