Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Okafor, Sixers, Hollins

Knicks‘ rookie Kristaps Porzingis believes he has the best possible mentor in team president Phil Jackson, writes Ian Begley of Jackson gambled the No. 4 pick on the 20-year-old Latvian and has offered a few coaching tips to help him along. Porzingis said Jackson “lets Coach [Derek] Fisher do all the work, but then he comes up to guys and tells little details about the offense, something maybe that all the other coaches didn’t see. Phil’s always there and he sees other things, and he’s very helpful for me. He’s always telling me little details and helping me with the game.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers need to do a better job of protecting Jahlil Okafor off the court, contends Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. The rookie center has already been part of two dangerous altercations, allegedly getting in a street fight in Boston on Thanksgiving and having a gun pointed at his head in Philadelphia in October. Lloyd notes that when LeBron James returned to Cleveland last year, the Cavaliers quickly increased their security staff, which is made up of former law enforcement officials who can accompany players when they go out at night. Lloyd encourages the Sixers to do the same.
  • The Sixers have an abundance of young talent, but could use a stronger veteran presence, argues Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. In a discussion of whether the franchise’s long-term plan is working, Hamilton said he likes the team’s youthful core, but worries that there are no veterans to teach good work habits and the ins and outs of being a pro. That need could be filled through free agency next summer, as Philadelphia has just $24.5MM committed for 2016/17. In the same piece, Ben Dowsett notes that the Sixers have 18 additional picks on top of their own in the drafts from 2016 through 2021.
  • Tonight’s pre-game comments from Nets‘ coach Lionel Hollins show that he still won’t take responsibility for the poor state of the team, according to “I don’t try to analyze everything,” Hollins said. “I see it and I know what it is. But what good does it do for me to stay up all night and analyze it and try to figure it out and try to make it different when we don’t have Kevin Durant and we don’t have [Russell] Westbrook, we don’t have LeBron James.”
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