by: Laura Whetherbee
New York Knicks basketball team’s rookie player from Latvia, Kristaps Porzingis, has found himself among the team’s top scorers this year.
The New York Knicks chose Porzingis, at only 20-years-old, as the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft and he is currently in the running for Rookie of the Year.
He was named the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the month this January for the third consecutive month, as stated in the article “Kristpas Porzingis Named January Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month,” posted on nba.com.
According to Espn.com, Porzingis has scored 689 career points in the 2015-2016 season with the New York Knicks, and averaged nearly 14 points a game so far this season.
“To make it in New York requires a supreme amount of self-awareness and self-confidence, and Kris has both those,” said Steve Mills, the general manager of the Knicks, in an article posted by nytimes.com titled “The Knicks Needed a Hero. Enter Kristaps Porzingis,” by Alan Feuer.
According to nytimes.com, Porzingis jerseys were selling fast just before Thanksgiving and endorsement deals have started for him. Such endorsements include Delta Air lines, which offered him unlimited free travel to Latvia.
The nytimes.com article stated that much of Porzingis’ resilience comes from his relationship with his family. His father, mother and both of his older brothers played basketball in Latvia and now live with him in his luxury apartment in White Plains.
Feuer stated that Porzingis developed the mechanics of his game during his time in Spain, then he caught the attention of NBA executives and scouts.
Although Latvia has produced only a few basketball players who have played in the United States, the sport has had a following there since 1935, when the national team won the first-ever Eurobasket European championship.
When the Knicks drafted Porzingis, he instantly became the country’s best-known athlete and hero.
Porzingis is having an extraordinary season, filled with point-and rebound triumphs, said Feuer, however, his last few games have been slightly under par. In his almost perfect English, Porzingis told nytimes.com that although he was not injured, his legs were felling tired. Still, he insisted he has not hit the so-called “rookie wall.”
Nba.com posted some of Porzingis’ highlights, which include the Jan. 8 game at San Antonio where he scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.