Don’t let the headline deceive you; I still don’t know how I’m going to make sense of last night, and I’m the one writing this article. The only lottery pick that went as everyone expected was the first one, when Karl-Anthony Towns went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, joining two former first overall picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. But I’m not here to talk about Towns or the Wolves or how Flip Saunders has acquired the past three #1 overall picks in the last 12 months.
I’m here to talk about the Knicks and honestly I’ve been stalling all day, trying to put this article off because I was still in shock from last night. You know that feeling you get when you watch Game of Thrones and then everyone dies in one episode? Yeah, that’s what I felt like after hearing “With the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select (Adam Silver Pauses for dramatic effect, knowing the words he’s about to utter would start a riot in the stands) Kristaps Porzingis, Cent…” I actually don’t remember anything after that point. I’m 99% sure I blacked out. It was inconceivable to me that Phil Jackson just drafted a 19-year-old, 7’1” Latvian project that won’t contribute next season. I, along with every Knicks fan actually at the Barclays Center, was letting blind rage consume my thoughts. Maybe it was the tease that was Okafor dropping to the Sixers, or that I think Emmanuel Mudiay is going to be the next Russell Westbrook. I just didn’t know. The picture to your left, which is of me, perfectly sums up how I felt immediately after the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis. Yes, it was that kind of night.
It has been almost 20 hours since the Draft started and I’ve had some time to sleep off the shock and think about the Knicks moves rationally and with a clear conscience. And, being perfectly honest, I actually love what the Knicks did last night. It’s not like me to completely flip my opinion on a class the day after the draft, but just hear me out. (I’m only breaking down the first round picks because who cares about the second round).
Kristaps Porzingis is at least almost a head taller than every other prospect in this draft, which I didn’t realize until I saw this picture:
Like holy fuck. This guy is only 19?? I mean I’ve suffered through 20 years of following four losing teams (Mets, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers, I don’t need your pity either), and I still take shit for going to Penn State (still hearing Sandusky jokes and I wasn’t even at the school when it happened). But if waiting two years for this Latvian gigantor to develop into Dirk 2.0 is what it’s going to take for me to see a team I root for win a title, then show me the dotted line. Porzingis can shoot from anywhere on the floor, is a decent shot blocker, and based off of the comments he’s made since being drafted, he is hungry. That right there is what sold me on this guy. This is an excerpt from Adrian Wojnarowski’s June 16 profile of Porzingis.
“The biggest thing for me – the thing that I think most about – is that you can get into the gym whenever you want here,” Porzingis told Yahoo Sports over dinner recently. “They give you a card, or a key, and in the middle of the night, if you want to work out, you just go to the gym and get your work in – and I think that’s amazing.
“In Europe, you don’t have that option. You can’t get your work in on a Sunday, because nobody is there. I think that’s one of the coolest things. This year, I didn’t have a place to play. I’ve got to talk to the GM, to talk one of the people who work in the arena to open the door for me. People don’t want to do extra work at the arena.”
So Porzingis laid awake in his bedroom in Sevilla, Spain, and thought to himself, “‘when I’m sleeping, someone else is working out.’ I’d think that I better get in my work the next day, because I’m already behind.”
The guy is HUNGRY. As Herb Brooks once said, “The legs feed the wolf, gentlemen.” Yes, historically, European players have not panned out unless your name is Dirk, Pau, or Marc. However if there is going to be a fourth great European player in the history of the NBA, Porzingis certainly has the mindset and drive to get to that point.
The Knicks entered yesterday’s draft with only one pick in total. Many felt that the Knicks needed to trade into the second round to help add depth to the roster, myself included. Well, Phil Jackson decided to one-up us and move into the first round instead. Jackson traded Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Washington Wizards straight up for the 19th pick in the NBA draft. And you thought Phil was delusional (still up in the air). The Knicks went out and drafted Jerian Grant, who in my humble opinion is an absolute beast. I picked his Notre Dame to make the National Championship game and followed the team religiously throughout the tournament and let me tell you, Grant can flat out BALL. What the Knicks got in Grant is a 6’5” point guard that can defend 1-3 and score from anywhere on the court. He’s very athletic and is a highly intelligent basketball player. Being at Notre Dame and staying until he graduated, he is much more mature than most players in this draft (22 years old), having played under Mike Brey for all four years (Side Note: The first four picks are all 19 years old). Grant brings an explosive mindset to the point-guard position in New York, who will create a nice 1-2 punch with last season’s breakout player for the Knicks, Langston Galloway.
I honestly was really upset with how the draft went in the moments following Porzingis’ selection, but I wont let 20 years of negativity and losing bring me down. I’m doing my best to look at the bright side of things and hopefully the rest of you Knick fans can do the same. And in all honesty, we were all mad (or still are) last night because Phil didn’t draft someone who can win now for us. And with reports of Melo being unhappy with how the draft went coming out, I can see how people are livid. However, if Melo really were THAT concerned with winning now, he would have left New York for Chicago or Houston last off-season. Instead he resigned and is holding the Knicks’ salary cap hostage. If he cared about winning he would have taken a discount so the team could sign respectable role players. Carmelo Anthony actually came out today and said he was pissed that Phil Jackson didn’t pick a player that would help the team win now. News flash Carmelo, NO ONE WOULD HELP THIS TEAM WIN NOW. Not one player in this draft would make this team a contender. Jalen Rose’s team needs for the Knicks last night was “Everything”. That, my friends, is when you know your team is shit. Hopefully this draft was the first step in the right direction for the Knicks, as their selections certainly have the potential to live up to their expectations. Then again, who knows? It’s the Knicks, what isn’t going to go wrong?