<
>

Porzingis learning from 1-on-1 games with Melo

Nick Laham/Getty Images

NEWARK, N.J. – How has Kristaps Porzingis prepared for life in the NBA? By playing one-on-one with Carmelo Anthony.

The rookie said on Wednesday that he and Anthony played one-on-one over the summer before the rest of the team gathered in New York for informal workouts.

“We were playing one-on-one a lot, and I was just asking him about the moves, about as much as I could and know how he does that, how he does this so I can learn from him,” Porzingis said on Wednesday in Newark, where he was being fitted for a custom mattress big enough for his 7-foot-1 frame.

Porzingis said he's also peppered Anthony with questions about life in the NBA -- on and off the court.

“It was good for me to see how he carries himself just being around him, he’s never said no to one of my questions so I can keep asking and it’s great for me to keep learning from him,” Porzingis said.

Porzingis smiled when asked if he’d beaten Anthony in any of their 1-on-1 games.

“Maybe. But Melo is hard to guard. He’s the best offensive player in the league so I have trouble with him but I think I got better from it,” Porzingis said.

Anthony has expressed optimism about Porzingis and the Knicks’ other new additions following reports that he was upset with the team’s direction and its drafting of the 19-year-old Latvian.

Anthony’s name was also in the news recently because he responded on Instagram to a fan who questioned whether he was still an elite player.

Porzingis chimed in on the debate Wednesday.

“He’s elite. No question,” the rookie said.

5-on-5 matchups with Seraphin: Porzingis has been at the training facility recently playing 5-on-5 with his teammates. Most of the Knicks have been in attendance for the informal workouts.

Porzingis said one thing that’s stood out about the workouts is their intensity.

“Trash talking, it’s competitive, it’s fun. Five-on-five, there's no rules,” he said. “…. Everybody plays so hard, everybody’s competitive and everybody wants to win. That’s what makes it really fun.”

Porzingis said he’s been on Anthony’s team frequently in these 5-on-5 games. He’s also matched up at times against Anthony, Derrick Williams and, most often, Kevin Seraphin.

“Kevin Seraphin’s a big dude. I think that’s good for me. I can practice with him everyday and get used to that huge body that he has,” Porzingis said. “He’s probably one of the biggest 4/5 men that there is in the NBA, the heaviest. I think that’s good for me to just be able to fight with him day to day.”

PF… for now: Porzingis sees himself as a power forward right now. But he also envisions himself playing center if he gains enough weight.

“For now, I’m a [PF] for sure because of the defense. I’ve got to be able to hold those [centers]. So that’s the main thing,” Porzingis said. “Once I get stronger I’ll be able to play 5. Offensively, I can play both positions. At 5, I’ll be way quicker than the 5 man. So I’ll get stronger and gain more weight if I want to play 5.”

Wants to play for Latvia: Porzingis didn’t play with the Latvian national team in this year's EuroBasket tournament but he plans on playing for the team in the future.

“Before the draft I was going to play for the national team, especially because the group round was in Latvia. It was a huge event. But once I got drafted by the Knicks, I just felt the pressure,” Porzingis said. “I understood how good the guys were on the team and everything, so I said, ‘If I really want to gain weight and get better in the summer, playing with the national team, I’ll be playing, not gaining weight.’ So that was the best option for me this summer. But in the future, I obviously want to play for the national team. But first I have to establish my career here, in the NBA."

No Zinger: For those who monitor these things, Porzingis said playfully that he's 'not a fan' of the nickname 'Zinger.' It sounds like he prefers 'KP.' Porzingis added that he’s started reading Phil Jackson’s novel, “Sacred Hoops.”