The New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick at the NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center, bringing on a cascade of boos from their fans.
Porzingis, a 6’11”, 220-pound forward, hails from Latvia, but he played professionally in Spain. This past season, he played for Cajasol Seville, and averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 38 games in league play. In ULEB Eurocup action, he played in 16 games and averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Porzingis is only the second player from Latvia to be chosen in an NBA Draft. The other two were Andris Biedrins, who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 11th overall pick in 2004, and Gundars Vetra, who played one season for the Timberwolves, 1992-93.
Porzingis said on Thursday night, “What can I say? You see this for me (holding up a Knicks jersey with “Porzingis”)? For me it’s a dream come true to play for the Knicks. I wanted to see myself in this situation. I’ve been visualizing it. Now it’s here, and I can’t wait to be a part of this organization and get to work.”
Here is the rest of his session with the New York media:
Q. Kris, big market here in New York. They clearly need a franchise‑type guy. Do you think you can be that type of player here?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Thank you. I think so. I think I have enough talent to be that special player, you know, who can help the franchise get better results. I want to be that guy. I want to be a part of this special organization, and I’m looking forward to it.
Q. What was your reaction to hearing the fans’ boos? They didn’t seem happy with the pick.
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me, but I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans.
There’s nothing I can do. I was happy about it. I want to be a part of this organization, and I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how it is here in New York, and I’m ready for it.
Q. In what ways do you think your game fits with Carmelo Anthony’s?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I think Carmelo is a great player. He makes players around him better. Whatever theme, whatever Carmelo wants me to do, I will do that out on the court just to prove that I’m worthy enough to be on the court with him, starting with the dirty jobs; just getting rebounds, getting shots, getting blocks and just running the court. We will have time to practice with each other and hopefully I will be able to fit in with Carmelo.
Q. Did any other teams look at you? And if so, do you think you could be traded to one of those teams?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I’m not sure about that. Obviously always there’s a chance you get drafted, you get traded after you get drafted. But for me, that’s not my job really. That’s what my agent does. I really don’t have much information.
Q. What are you looking forward most playing here in New York?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Thank you. Just being here in New York, just the fans, Madison Square Garden, such a historic place. For me it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, and I just can’t wait to let the season start and just get to work.
Q. When you worked for the Knicks, did they specifically go over aspects of the triangle offense? And how do you think you could fit into that system?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: We did a little bit, but I still have a lot of learning to do. I know the basics of triangle offense. I’m not ready to be on the court yet, knowing all the little details about triangle offense, but for me I don’t think it’ll be a problem to adjust to that offense. I think it’s a good offense; you just move a lot and there’s always spacing. So I’m looking forward to learning that offense.
Q. I’m curious to know since you come from a Baltic state what your favorite player from your native country is.
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: When Andris Biedrins was still playing, he was my favorite player. He had a great career‑‑ for a few years he had a great career. He was playing high level basketball and he was a guy I looked up to, so hopefully now I can be that guy in Latvia for kids to look up to.
Q. The Knicks are coming off their worst season in franchise history, 17 wins. How can a Kristaps Porzingis turn the Knicks around?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: It’s hard to say for me right now. You know, I didn’t know where I was going to be, so I haven’t really thought about how I can impact the team since the first moment. But obviously I will be there, do my job, first, play as hard as possible. I heard New York fans and people in New York are hard‑working fans, so they want to see players work hard on the court. That’s the first thing I’ve got to do. As a young guy I’ve got to bring energy, and hopefully we can turn this around.
Q. Kristaps, the sound bites will be about the booing, etcetera, but do you think it’s a disadvantage European players have over their American college player counterparts because we don’t know as much about European player?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Yeah, I think American fans, they know more college guys than guys overseas. But my agent did a great job of putting my name out there in the news and having a lot of interviews and media stuff, so the people in New York and all over America can get to know me better. I think more and more fans are getting to know me better now.
Q. Can you describe what your conversation with Phil Jackson was like at the workout, and what were the one or two things he said to you that struck you as most interesting or profound?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Can you repeat that, please?
Q. What was your conversation like with Phil Jackson at the workout and what were some of the things he told you that you remembered that struck you as interesting?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I mean, what we talked about was a little bit of triangle offense, how it works. He just wanted to explain it to me a little bit. He asked me questions about basketball. He just wanted to know my IQ level of basketball, and that was basically it. It was a good conversation.
I can tell Phil is such a legendary guy, he does everything. It’s obviously a blessing to be able to play for him and just be in his team.
Q. Knowing the importance of this pick, how does it feel to get this kind of vote of confidence from Phil Jackson?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: It’s crazy, you know, for me, just playing in New York. Phil Jackson is a known hero. First I’ll make sure I do my work, and he’ll make sure he puts me in a position where I can succeed. Really looking forward to it, and I’m just very happy to be here in New York.