LAS VEGAS – So who is Kristaps Porzingis?
Last summer, the 7-foot-1 power forward, with guard-like skills, received a lottery-pick guarantee from the Orlando Magic if he opted to remain in the 2014 draft. Porzingis instead withdrew his name and played another season for Baloncesto Sevilla of the Asociacion de Clubs de Baloncesto in Spain and was named Eurocup rising star for this past season.
With that extra season of development, the 19-year-old believes the time is right to start his NBA career.
The Latvia native is expected to be among the top five draft picks on June 25 at the Barclays Center in New York. Draft Express even has the 76ers passing on Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell to take Porzingis with the third overall pick.
So who is Porzingis?
"They call me the man of mystery," he said before Friday's ASM Sports Pro Day in front of Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie and other NBA executives and scouts at Impact Basketball.
The workout served as Porzingis' lone on-court activity for NBA teams before the draft.
"I mean there's a lot of tape of me," he said of being an unknown. "I think the people who are really interested in me, I think that's good enough."
If there were any questions about his skill set, Porzingis put them to rest Friday. He was hitting three-pointers like they were layups. He also displayed an athleticism that's rare for a man of his size.
But in all honestly, the workout was designed to highlight Porzingis' strengths.
Even still, ESPN.com senior writer and draft analyst Chad Ford believes Porzingis would receive the same hype as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor had he played at Kentucky or Duke.
"If he was in college [this past season], I have no doubt – and a number of scouts have said this – we'd be talking about him as a potential No. 1," Ford said. "I don't know if he beats out Karl-Anthony Towns at the end of the day, because he's more of a center.
"You can tell by looking at him, he needs to work on his body. His biggest weakness going into the NBA is physical weakness."
However, one NBA scout believes Porzingis is the best player in the draft after watching his workout. "He's better than Karl-Anthony Towns," said the scout, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Porzingis averaged 10.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1 block while shooting 31.2 percent on three-pointers this past season.
Despite always being amongst the tallest players, Porzingis started his playing career as a point guard because of his athleticism and ability to face the basket. He later switched to small forward at the age of 16 before settling at power forward at 18.
That explains his ability to run the floor and soft-shooting touch for someone of his size.
However, there are some concerns.
The 220-pounder needs to gain strength in order to operate down low in the NBA. He also needs to become a better finisher at the rim.
Still a teenager, he'll have time to develop. The team that drafts him just needs to remains patient. So he might be a good fit for a Sixers squad that prefers high upsides over finished products.
Porzingis admits that he wasn't ready for the NBA last season.
"As soon as we signed up for the draft, I knew I would stay one more year in Europe just to gain more experience, get stronger," he said. "That one year helped me out a lot getting better and preparing myself mentally for what's in front of me, and I think that was the right decision at the time."
A year later, the Magic reportedly still want to select him with the fifth overall pick in next month's draft. But a league source believes he'll be off the board by then.
The Sixers already have potential cornerstone post players in Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. They are also reportedly negotiating with Anadolu Efes of the Turkish Basketball League to bring Dario Saric to the NBA next season.
But the Sixers have publicly stated they'll take the best player available over need. That would, in some people's eyes, leave the door open to adding Porzingis.
Based on Hinkie's history of making shocking moves, Ford can see the Sixers selecting Porzingis over Russell.
"I'm not saying they will," Ford said. "I don't know that. I know that they have been heavily interested. They followed it closely.
"And I will say this about Philadelphia, and I admire this about them. They will take the best player available, regardless of whether there's a fit or not a fit."
Hinkie played close attention to Porzingis during the workout. He's also made several trips to Spain this past season to watch him play in person.
"All I hear on Twitter is what people write about," Porzingis said of not paying attention to possible destinations. "Mostly I leave that part of basketball to my agent [Andy Miller]. I just do my job on the court and focus on that."