36 hours ago, the Knicks had zero draft picks in this year’s draft and a team full of bloated contracts. Fast forward to June 27th where the Knicks banished two contracts — Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler — and acquired a handful of assets — Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and the 34th and 51st pick in this year’s draft. Let’s look at why everyone is saying, “In Phil We Trust.”
The Knicks picked Cleanthony Early, a 6’7″ small/power foward from Wichita State, with the 34th pick in this year’s draft. ESPN’s Jay Bilas had him ranked in the mid-20′s for this draft, which was absolutely loaded with talent. For Early to drop all the way to the Knicks in the 2nd round is a borderline miracle. Preliminary reports about Early suggest that he is an explosive offensive player with the ability to dominate during transition play. He’s not the best defender in the draft, but it seems the Knicks like his potential as a viable wing in this year’s rotation. DraftExpress has more of his information on player profile, if you’re interested. I can’t wait to hear how Clyde will pronounce his name.
The 51st pick was up in the air. Many people thought they would go with Patric Young, but instead, the Knicks shocked everyone by drafting Thanasis Antetokounmpo, a small forward from Greece (most recently played with the 76ers’ D-League team.) If you can’t tell from his surname already, Thanasis is the older brother of Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Thanasis is 6’7″ and is rawer than Giannis, but reports say that Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher love his defensive presence and intensity. He won’t be scoring a lot and probably won’t be getting that many opportunities next year, but he’ll definitely be asked to play a lot of defense. Thanasis requires a lot more work, but the ceiling is pretty high. Peep the DraftExpress player profile for more information on Thanasis. Now, who isn’t lining up for a Thanasis Antetokounmpo Knicks’ jersey?
And finally, the last pick. Oh wait, how did the Knicks get another pick? The Indiana Pacers had the 57th pick in the draft, but Phil was like, “Nope. No you don’t. Here’s some cash, now leave.” And so, the Pacers did. The Knicks bought the pick for an undisclosed amount of money and drafted Louis Labeyrie, a 6’10″ center from France. Who? Yeah, there’s not much about him right now, but he looks like a stash pick at this point. His DraftExpress profile is pretty bare, but care to take a peek if you’re interested.
Oh, he looks like a stretch four, apparently:
Louis Labeyrie went from a non-shooter in his youth to a true stretch four this season. Had stagnated but took a big step forward in 2014.
— DraftExpress2 (@DraftExpress2) June 27, 2014
If you look at the Knicks roster now, you’ll see how there is a plethora of wings chilling on the bench. I know for a fact that Phil and his posse will be addressing this soon. Perhaps in a trade package or maybe Phil will just do some magic and make it work. Either way, the Knicks need some big men, especially ones that can play in the triangle, and they failed to address that right now. Patric Young went undrafted, so it could be huge if the Knicks are able to sign him to play in the Summer League, a la Toure Murry and Jeremy Tyler.
It’s also worth mentioning that Louis Labeyrie’s selection could be used as a way for Phil to gather get another asset to parlay into a trade. Only time will tell, but it’s worth noting…
That’s the only negative from tonight. But, let’s not take away anything that Phil Jackson did. He pushed the right buttons and came away with creating a bright future for this team.