Knicks Rookie Kristaps Porzingis: “I Belong Here”


New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis returned to action on Saturday, participating in the last day of practice for training camp. Porzingis tweaked his iliotibial band during Wednesday night’s session of training camp and rested for the next couple of days for precautionary measures.

Porzingis was able to scrimmage 5 on 5 Saturday, free of pain per Ian Begley of ESPN.

"“I did all the testing with our trainer before the practice. Everything went well. I was 100 percent,”"

After the Knicks’ final practice in training camp, Porzingis said on Saturday that he “belongs” in this league.

"“I’ve been working on my skills these last few years a lot, so I know what I can do. But it was just a question if I can do it at this level. I feel confident now. I feel like I belong here,”"

Porzingis feels that his professional career overseas with Baloncesto Sevilla helped prepare him for the NBA.

"“I played two years professionally [in Spain]. Obviously the level [there] is not the same as here in the NBA, but I feel confident I’ll be able to play at this level,”“The season is different. Obviously I’ve got to get used to that. I’ve got to get adjusted. I’ll need some time for sure. To prepare myself mentally for the game, I think I’ll be ready. It’ll just take a little bit of time probably, but I feel I belong here.”"

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It is good to hear his confidence but the NBA regular season is a lot more grueling than any other professional basketball organization, being a long 82-game season. Comparatively Porzingis only played 50 games last season in Europe.

Knicks’ superstar Carmelo Anthony backed up Porzingis’ statement, saying he felt he belonged as well. Anthony earlier in the week said that he was impressed with Porzingis’ attitude and said he would help mentor the young rookie.

"“He belongs,”“We picked him, so he’s here. He definitely belongs. I’m glad he feels that way, because we feel that way. If we feel that way and he don’t feel that way then it’d be different. It’d be a problem. I’m glad he’s realizing that he belongs here.”"

It sounds like Porzingis is getting all the support from the team and his teammates he needs to help foster a successful season. From the organization playing it safe, resting his knee, to encouraging teammates. For anyone in life to be successful, you need support and Porzingis says he definitely feels that in New York.

"“I have great teammates. They’re helping me. Whenever I make a mistake, they’re helping me with all those things, the little details for me to feel more comfortable on the court,”“I think we have a great group. I’m feeling comfortable. I still need to do a little more work to be ready for the season. But I think it will be a good year for me.”"

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A big question up for debate is, would it be better for Porzingis’ development to start right away or to come off the bench slowly. Head coach Derek Fisher danced around that question on the last day of training camp saying that Porzingis is up for consideration to start at power forward this season, even though that is the most stacked position on the roster.

"“He can’t get a stamp of approval just yet in terms of what his role will be. But we drafted him No. 4, and I think we like what he is and what he can be,”“I think he’s for sure in consideration. But he has to earn the right to be a guy that we can trust and that start games every single night to start the season.”"

There will be a lot of competition at the power forward position, the idea of Anthony playing the 4 was floated out there during media day, not to mention returning players such as Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas. Also, a lot of the key free agent signings this summer were forwards as well, with the additions of Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, Kevin Seraphin, and DaJuan Summers (not so key). It will be interesting to see how Fisher juggles all the minutes for so many competent bigs on the roster.

Wither Porzingis starts or not, it is encouraging to see that he feels he “belongs” in the NBA. That kind of mindset and belief in himself will take him a long way.

Next: Carmelo Anthony: Can Play High Level of Basketball for 4 or 5 Years