Rookie Diary, Volume 7: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Porzingis discusses his Steph Curry shot and his health

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses how playing professionally in Europe before coming to the NBA gave him a unique advantage over rookies who came from college.

I’m doing a lot better physically. I was a little sick in L.A., but now I’m finally recovering to 100 percent and feeling better every day.

Emotionally it’s been tough. We had hoped to finish the road trip strong by beating Washington, but that didn’t happen, so that was frustrating, and then Sunday night we had a really tough game against Sacramento. We couldn’t really fight back and win the game. It was really frustrating to lose in front of our fans after that long road trip, but now we have two days off and we can recover mentally and physically and play well against Chicago on Wednesday.

We’re sticking together as a team, as a group. We’re trying to do the right things. We’re trying to play hard. It’s just not working out for us. During the season there has been a lot of ups and downs. It’s been a lot for us from a mental standpoint, just a lot going on. The mood isn’t as good as it was, obviously, because we’re losing now, but we’re trying to stay positive. We’re trying to fix the situation.

That’s something I’ve been through already. We had a similar situation in Spain last season. We started off really bad and then we kind of started to play better. The first of the season was a big struggle for us in Spain, so I kind of went through that already. Now it’s just the other way around. We started off playing good basketball and now we can’t find the way again. I’ve kind of been in this situation. I know what to expect. It’s just on a bigger stage.

That experience of two or three years playing professionally, the first one when I was kind of on a junior contract and not really with the first team, has definitely helped me. One thing, it’s just playing against grown men, day by day, and being there with the pressure. There’s pressure in college as well, but with the professionals it’s different. And you can be on a bad team. Most of the guys that come out of college and get drafted, they were on a good team in college and they were winning. That wasn’t my case. I think those years of experience in the ACB in Spain is really good for me now.

You never know that at the time. You’re living in the moment and whatever happens happens. But now, looking back, that obviously was good experience for me, those two years and I’m happy that I was in the situation that I was.

I never really had to think about whether to come to the United States for college and how that would have changed the way I looked at it. I had maybe two or three offers from Division II and Division III colleges, but I already had a professional contract. And those offers were not serious. They were like through Facebook. The coaches wrote me. It was funny to get those offers. I already had a professional contract. I couldn’t go to college.

When I was really young, when I didn’t have a professional contract, nobody really knew about me. Then once I started playing in the ACB, they knew my situation and they knew I wasn’t coming over. I think those two years, two and a half years, with the ACB team really helped me to develop and to see the real world, but at the same time it would have been fun to play in college and see how I do there.

I don’t know where I would have gone if I came to play in college instead of professionally in Spain. There are a lot of really good colleges, like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas. It would probably be one of those that I would like to go to. But you never know. That was never in my mind when I had the chance so I never really thought about it.

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