For as much hype as No. 4 pick Kristaps Porzingis has received, nobody knows what he’s going to be in his rookie season. The Latvian big man impressed at Summer League, but it’s clear that he’s a project and it’s going to take time for him to become a consistent NBA contributor. Knicks president Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher are cognizant of this, and so far they’re pleased with the results from Porzingis’ end leading up to camp.
“We’re very pleased with his attitude, the way he approaches work, his appetite for it,” Knicks president Phil Jackson said of his top pick on Friday.
Added Derek Fisher: “[Porzingis] wants to work, he wants to get better, he wants to be here in New York City and part of what we’re doing. We don’t have to ask him to do anything. He’s essentially the first one [at the team’s practice facility] every morning at 7:30 a.m. He’s beaten me here a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. We think he’s going to do fine.”
One of Porzingis’ goals this offseason was to put on 15 pounds of muscle. He weighed around 230 pounds on draft night and there is concern that he will have difficulty against opposing frontcourt players due to his slight frame.
Porzingis had added 11 pounds of muscle as two weeks ago. His goal was to add four more by Tuesday.
“He’s been very receptive to the work it takes to become an NBA player, strength training, trying to bulk up and do all those things,” Jackson said.
Porzingis has been outspoken this year about not wanting to be lumped in with other European prospects who were hyped around the draft based on raw skill and didn’t pan out in the NBA. He might not play much his rookie year, with the Knicks having signed Derrick Williams, Kyle O'Quinn and Robin Lopez this summer, but long-term, he seems to still be on track to develop in the way the Knicks want him to, which should be exciting for fans.