Just as they were last season, the New York Knicks will likely be an underdog in virtually every game they play. Their group is still a developing one, especially after missing out on the top free agents on the market.
Luckily, one of their free agent pickups lives and breathes that underdog mentality.
Bobby Portis, the Knicks' new versatile big man, has been doubted since his high school days in Arkansas and has continued to carry that mindset with him despite any accolades he's received.
In fact, Portis told SLAM's Alex Squadron that he still enjoys being the underdog to this day.
"Hell yeah, absolutely man," Portis said. "When you fall in love with your craft, fall in love with what you do, you embrace who you are and you embrace everything that comes with it."
Portis signed a two-year, $31 million deal with the Knicks, which has a team option for 2020. The fan base is not expecting much from the team after their lackluster free agency period.
Just how Portis likes it.
After being benched on his high school team, Portis used that motivation in the gym and weight room and all the way to a scholarship offer to the University of Arkansas. There he was named the SEC Player of the Year in 2015. That's a lottery pick type of accolade, right? Instead Portis fell to the No. 22 pick where he landed with the Chicago Bulls, the same team that dealt him to the Washington Wizards at the 2019 trade deadline.
Evidently the Wizards were content moving on without Portis, too. The 24-year-old was available for the Knicks, and Portis makes his underdog feelings known. He dawns an "underdog" chain for every game. He frequently uses the hashtag "#UNDERDOG" on social media. Ports has embraced it and will continue to do so with his new team.
"I'm kind of really thankful for my journey. I think my journey is what made me the underdog," Portis said.
But don't let the hoopla of the New York free agency frenzy fool you. Underdog or not, Portis is setting the bar high for himself with the Knicks, regardless of who else the team did or didn't sign in free agency.
"If I could look ahead a little bit, I could see myself being an All-Star one day," Portis said.
Overall last season with the Bulls and Wizards combined, Portis averaged 14.2 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, with a 44.4 percent field goal percentage. In 28 games with the Wizards, Portis finished last season with career-highs in three-point percent (40.3) and from the free throw line (80.9).