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Porzingis: 'My moment will come sooner or later'

Nick Laham/Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Kristaps Porzingis spent the summer trying to add muscle and weight while working out with Carmelo Anthony.

On the eve of his first training camp, Porzingis feels prepared. He spent the summer soaking up everything he could from Anthony and other Knicks with the intention of doing all he can to prove that he belongs in the NBA and is worth the Knicks’ fourth overall pick.

Porzingis -- who just turned 20 last month -- also believes he is equipped to handle the pressure of playing for the Knicks and their fans in this massive New York market.

“Yeah, one thing is my personality, and then I think I have the right people around me,” Porzingis said at Knicks’ media day. “My family keep my head straight and make sure I do the right thing and not worry about other stuff too much. That’s the main thing for a young guy in a big city like this.

“I just need to stay focused and my moment will come sooner or later.”

Despite being new to this country and the NBA, Porzingis has talked like a player mature beyond his years. So far, he's said all the right things while displaying a quiet confidence.

Porzingis said having Anthony show him some of his patented moves was incredibly beneficial.

“We’ve played a lot of one-on-one for like a week straight almost every day,” Porzingis said. “As I played against him, he was showing off all his moves and I was trying to learn from him, asking him how he did this, how he did that, how he moves his feet and all that kind of stuff.”

Anthony said he feels bad for Porzingis and what the rookie is about to get into as not only a newcomer learning the league but also as the subject of intense scrutiny in New York while trying to justify his high draft pick.

The Knicks’ franchise player plans on being a big brother to Porzingis and even acting as a buffer to protect him at times as well.

"This guy hasn't played not even one minute in the NBA," Anthony said. "I'm going to try to be a big brother to him and kind of take the pressure off of him a little bit. It's something that he never experienced before ... so this is new to him. To be a newcomer to this game, to this league, in New York, that's tough. I don't know if he knows what he's about to get himself into, so I kind of have to be that wall for him."

At least one Knick is already very impressed with Porzingis and thinks the Knicks got the “steal of the draft.”

“I thought [when he was picked by the Knicks], ‘Wow! That’s the biggest steal of the draft,’” guard Sasha Vujacic said. “I’ve seen him play, obviously, in Europe and know him ... He is a very high draft pick but he is also very, very young. Sometimes we forget he needs to mature not just on the basketball court but as a human being.

“There is going to be a lot of patience that will be needed. But he is a warrior and he has it. He has that it.”

Porzingis said he gained 11 pounds in an attempt to add weight and muscle to his thin 7-1 frame. Phil Jackson has spoken repeatedly this offseason about how Pau Gasol told Jackson not to worry too much about Porzingis' weight, reminding Jackson that Gasol came into the league with a similar body type but eventually gained weight and adapted.

“He was skinny,” Porzingis said of Gasol. “But he found a way to get stronger and how to play in this league. That’s what I’m trying to do, too.”

“Obviously I need to get stronger to guard the [centers],” Porzingis added. “But me going up against Kevin Seraphin every day [in workouts] playing the five position is great for me, going against those big bodies. But yeah, I need to gain more weight, always be in a low stance so I can hold those guys.”

It will take time for Porzingis to develop an NBA body and game. But one dream has already come true for the rookie.

“This is my dream, to play for the Knicks,” Porzingis said. “It’s a dream come true. I’m really excited to be here. Best city in the world. So there’s not a better place to win. Hopefully one day we can bring a championship here and have a big celebration.”