Boston Celtics

Porzingis: ‘I'm enjoying basketball the most' playing in Boston

Kristaps Porzingis is loving his time with the C's and forming tight bonds with his teammates.

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During Tuesday night's In-Season Tournament game against the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis sat down with NBC Sports Boston's Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine to discuss the Latvian's career so far.

Currently in his eighth season, the former fourth overall pick has played a crucial part in Boston's early success, averaging 18.9 points on 54.7 percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. From being booed on draft night after being selected by the New York Knicks in the 2015 NBA Draft at 19 years old, Porzingis has come a long way, maturing both on and off the court.

"You know, I came in the league very young, 19 years old," Porzingis said. "[I] got drafted by New York and had an incredible time playing there for the Knicks, but I was still very immature in a lot of ways, but most importantly on the court."

With the Knicks, Porzingis quickly made fans regret booing him on draft night. Finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting, the young center averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.3 assists per game, boasting an impressive 33.3 percent conversion rate from beyond the arc.

After three seasons with the Knicks, Porzingis was sent to the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster trade that would put two of the league's best international players on the court together -- Porzingis and Luka Doncic. While Porzingis continued to perform at an elite level, averaging 20 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.7 blocks in his three years with the team, the big struggled to stay healthy, causing the Mavericks to trade him to the Washington Wizards.

In two short seasons with the Wizards, Porzingis found his groove offensively, improving to 22.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. Playing in 65 games in the 2022-23 season was enough promise for the Celtics to take a gamble on him, trading away fan favorite Marcus Smart in a three-team deal.

"At this stage of my career, 28 years old, [I've] been on a few teams, played with many different great players," Porzingis added. "I have this experience and I have the maturity and I know the game much better than when I was early in my career, or even in Dallas."

Porzingis has really come into his own in his short time in Boston, so far. Having such a talented roster, it can be tough for teams to manage all of the players wanting to accomplish their individual goals, but that has been a non-factor for the big man, who has fully bought into Joe Mazzulla's team-first approach. On top of constantly raving about all of his teammates, Porzingis has also notably developed a tight bond with Jaylen Brown, both on and off the court, which has been statically proven to benefit both of their games.

"I've grown a lot," Porzingis said of his career so far. "I'm enjoying basketball the most playing here, now at this stage of my career, and playing here in Boston."

Porzingis remains sidelined from play while dealing with a calf injury but hopes to have a better idea of his timetable to return within a week.

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