After finally trading Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks are now ready for Kristaps Porzingis to become the leader and face of the franchise.
The Latvian has also stated that he's prepared to take on the responsibility and hopes to lead the Knicks back to winning ways.
Unfortunately, that didn't get off to the best of starts as they lost their season opener 94-105 against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night as former star Anthony dropped 22 points.
Porzingis did his part, however, as he posted 31 points and 12 rebounds and was a one-man band for New York all night.
Despite the defeat, the 22-year-old showed off his full repertoire of skills on both ends of the floor and it was clear that he spent the offseason working on various aspects of his game.
The power forward has a lot of confidence in his play and has set extremely high expectations for himself this year.
Speaking in an interview with the Players' Tribune prior to the encounter with OKC, Porzingis revealed three lofty goals he has set out to achieve this campaign.
“As far as individual goals … I want to make the All-Star Game, I want to be Defensive Player of the Year and I also feel like I could be the Most Improved Player of the Year,” Porzingis said. “If I do those three things, then that’s going to help the team win a lot.”
Of the three, winning DPOY will prove to be the toughest and probably the most unrealistic for the big man as he'll struggle to beat the likes of Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gobert to that award.
But he revealed that he has been working extensively with the Knicks coaching staff to improve his defence with some gruelling drills.
“We worked on our defence 90 percent of practice,” Porzingis said. “The drills were disgusting. Your legs were burning.”
Receiving a first All-Star nod will be a likely scenario for the 7'3" star as his numbers are certain to take a big jump as the team's primary offensive option.
Heading into last season, he set himself a target of recording a quadruple-double, so he's known for setting the bar high.
But with the ball in his hands a lot more now, he can aim for anything he wants and his impressive performance against the Thunder's star-studded team showed that he's ready to take on the challenge and elevate his game to the next level.