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Kristaps Porzingis' struggles have some questioning his Unicorn status

Kristaps Porzingis is disappointing the NBA’s fussiest fan base. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

New York hasn’t lost faith in their Porzingod, but their devotion is being tested. Anything involving the Knicks invites hyperbole and Friday night’s overtime loss to the Miami Heat provided more fodder for a fringe sentiment that believes Kristaps Porzingis may not in fact be the Knicks savior. In the wake of his comments about “being tired,” after a loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night, Porzingis scored 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting, recorded three blocks and pulled down seven rebounds, but contributed only a pair of free throws in overtime of their 103-107 loss.

There’s no denying that Porzingis is beginning to show cracks in his first full season as the Knicks’ load bearing beam. Since Christmas, he’s averaging 19 points on 40 percent shooting from the field and he’s sank an abysmal 26 percent of his treys after shooting like Steph Curry during the early portion of the season. Porzingis’ recent slump, in addition to his recent admission about feeling drained before the halfway point of the season, has raised legitimate concerns about whether he was crowned Savior too soon.

On Thursday, the New York Post’s Marc Berman published accounts from two scouts who were bullish on Kristaps Porzingis’ potential to flourish as the alpha on an up and coming team.

“It’s because Europeans have learned the game as a ‘team game’ above all,’’ Shea told The Post. “[Porzingis] is at the very best an All-Star like Pau Gasol that can assist and become a great complementary player to some NBA big gun. He can only be cast as a piece of a rebuild that is a long way from anywhere.”

“A Unicorn is only the hero in fairy tales,” Shea said. “Is he a talented, long and very profitable piece? Yes, but not a franchise [player].”

“If the Garden continues to think and sell that Porzingis is a franchise player, they might as well let Willy Hernangomez play the point,’’ one NBA scout with European connections said. “It is not going to happen. KP has only played on a losing team as a pro in Spain and a losing team in New York. They have a lot of good, young Europeans — KP, Frank (Ntilikina), (Enes) Kanter, Willy. We can now start to care about the team, but please don’t believe KP will lead you to the end of the yellow brick road by himself. It’s idiotic to put him in that position.’’

First we build them up, then we tear them down. Last month, Joel Embiid pondered when the fever pitch excitement surrounding him would morph into dissatisfaction and hate. That moment is approaching for Porzingis. During the first month of this campaign, Porzingis had New York City worshipped at the altar of Porzingod. He was a nimbler Yao Ming with Steph Curry range and a pinch of Kevin Durant’s gentle shooting touch.

However, the heightened scrutiny of his growing pains obscures the advances he’s already made in three seasons. Porzingis holds it down on both ends for New York. He’s one of the elite rim erasers in the NBA, he guards the perimeter and he’s omnipresent in transition.

There are theories abound that his anemia, in combination with an increased workload could be triggering his fatigue. Or everyone may be overreacting. Porzingis experienced a similar slump during his rookie season and returned the next season with all the gaps in his game filled out. Critics are piling on in the short-term, but one thing is certain. The sample size of Porzingis’ struggles are too small too make any sweeping judgments.

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DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at dunsnchecksin@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.