Kristaps Porzingis is embracing the task of guarding former teammate Carmelo Anthony on Thursday night -- and the challenge of leading the Knicks in Anthony's absence.
"For sure, it's going to be weird," Porzingis told SNY's Adam Zagoria earlier this week. "But I'm looking forward to that game. It's in OKC, great atmosphere as always. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
"He's been in the league for 13, 14 years," Porzingis added. "I think everybody knows what he's doing but nobody can stop him. It's going to be a challenge for me. I'm going to do my best."
The 22-year-old Porzingis is also expected to be a leader now that Anthony is gone.
"I never doubt myself," Porzingis said Thursday, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. "I never feel like I'm not ready for something even if it's the most difficult challenge in my life. I always try to think about the things I'm capable of doing and focus on those things and focus on the thing I can affect. I'm never too afraid of a situation.
"I'm here now, I had a great experience watching Melo how he does stuff on and off the court. I think that's what I'm going to use to go forward."
Former Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy said earlier this week that Porzingis needs to take responsibility and accountability this season.
"There was a lot of commotion and noise last year that surrounded the Knicks that didn't have anything to do with winning or development,
Van Gundy said, according to Ian Begley of ESPN, "so this year hopefully it's a calmer environment, but he's got to take responsibility and accountability for doing what great players do, which is produce every night and unite your team through your effort and unselfishness."
The 22-year-old Porzingis averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while averaging 32.8 minutes in 66 games last season.
He averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1,9 blocks while averaging 28.4 minutes in 72 games in 2015-16, during what was his rookie season.