We analyze this year’s revamped roster and who could potentially make an impact in the NBA this season.
A new season for the Westchester Knicks of the G League (formerly D-League) unofficially kicks off on Monday with a preseason matchup against the Long Island Nets. The regular season begins shortly after on Saturday, November 4th in Chicago against the Windy City Bulls.
The DubKnicks finished a subpar 19–31 last season and were especially abysmal on the road, finishing with a 7–18 record. However, there is quite a bit of promise and optimism under head coach Mike Miller, who is entering his third season at the helm. Due to the frequent roster turnover we see in the G League on a year-to-year basis, Miller essentially has a brand new group of players to work with. Coach Miller demands a lot from his players and will give you an ear full if he doesn’t think you are playing up to your capabilities.
Expect the players to give maximum effort despite the relative lack of familiarity with the coaching staff, playbook, and fellow teammates. Here’s your Westchester Knicks 2017–18 roster breakdown.
This season, the DubKnicks roll out a totally overhauled roster that includes only ONE returning player from last season’s opening night squad. That man is Max Hooper, the undrafted free agent swingman out of Oakland University (who would play in two games last year).
This season’s team is a young one, with the oldest DubKnick being former Kansas State standout big man Jordan Henriquez at 28 years old. Guys in their early 20’s and fresh out of college make up a good chunk of the roster and look to work towards a potential call-up to the big boy Knicks:
Looking up and down the list of players this season, you can find many recognizable names who have been a part of big-time college basketball programs and have competed in games of large magnitude in the past. For example, Trey Burke, Isaiah Hicks, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and Nigel Hayes all played deep into the NCAA Tournament and all know what it takes to win, which cannot be said about most involved in the Knicks organization. Hayes, Rathan-Mayes, and Burke were actually cut by the organization just a few days prior but were re-assigned to the G League shortly after their release.
Rounding out the DubKnicks roster are players you’ve probably never heard of from smaller schools/international prospects who look to make a name for themselves as the season progresses.
A couple of notable losses at the guard position from last season include Travis Trice, John Jenkins, and Doron Lamb. Trice, the unquestioned floor general of the team, has moved onto Australia to continue his professional basketball career. Similarly, Doron Lamb, a marksman from the outside has gone overseas to Greece to play while Jenkins has received another NBA opportunity with the team that drafted him, the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite these key subtractions in the offseason, one could argue that the new group of guards could be better than the former three-headed monster of Trice, Jenkins, and Lamb.
Trey Burke is the most noteworthy addition to the team, in my opinion. Burke is a fringe NBA player who probably should be professional roster somewhere. The former Michigan stud won Big Ten and National Player of the Year back in 2013 and also has a 2014 All Rookie First-Team selection on his résumé with the Utah Jazz. Since then, the ninth overall pick in hasn’t quite lived up to expectations coming out of college and has bounced around between a few organizations. Surprisingly, Burke didn’t make the Knicks roster, but it’s exciting to know he is still within the organization. Burke is a likely candidate to be called up to the NBA at some point this season considering his solid NBA career statistics (career 10.6 PPG and 3.6 APG) coupled with the fact that Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack are mostly washed up and inept.
In the meantime, while he’s down here in Westchester, Burke can have a tremendous impact on the team directing traffic on the court, scoring and mentoring the young guys. Burke is big time. Expect him to be a quality addition to the DubKnicks.
Another guy who could prove to be a great undrafted find is Xavier Rathan-Mayes out of Florida State. Rathan-Mayes was a very lethal scorer in college and once scored 30 points in the last four-plus(!) minutes of a game against Miami. There is no question he can score the rock, the only issue with XRM is the consistency. Often times he would have extended cold spells from the floor and other games he would drop 30.
Defensively, Rathan-Mayes has the size at the guard position to be a decent defender but hasn’t quite put it all together yet. Hard work has never been an issue for him, so expect him to improve on that end of the floor.
There is an outside chance we see XRM called up the Knicks this season as his playmaking ability makes him an attractive option on a team with not many of them. One could envision him leading the DubKnicks in scoring and showing us why he was one of the steals of the post-draft free agent pool.
The rest of the guards expected to get quality minutes down in Westchester include the sneaky and quick Joey Miller from Dallas Baptist and Jordan Downing from Presbyterian College, the latter impressively averaged 20.2 points per game his Junior season at the D-I level. Downing provides some length (6’5″) on the perimeter with a very well-rounded offensive skill set, while Miller exhibits scrappy and intense play, similar to that of Ron Baker.
The guard unit this season seems very promising. Their potential success could be compromised due to cuts, call-ups, etc., but expect this faction of the team to produce if together throughout the season.
Knicks fan favorites Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee who spent some time in the D-League are, sadly, no longer with the team anymore, which means the DubKnicks lost two solid big men down low.
Replacing them this year are Jordan Henriquez, Isaiah Hicks, and Nigel Hayes. All three of these guys played big time basketball in college and bring good size and versatility to the DubKnicks frontcourt.
Beginning with Isaiah Hicks: this dude can really play. As a Tar Heel fan, I was fortunate enough to see plenty of Hicks play, and based on that alone I could definitely see him being a major contributor on the team this season. Hicks is relentless on the glass and a ferocious finisher at the rim. He is a champion who is going to give you 110 percent each night. Although a bit undersized for the power forward position, what Hicks lacks in height he makes up in heart.
The downside of Hicks is that he doesn’t offer much versatility down low in terms of being able to step out and make a jump shot. He greatly improved his free-throw shooting throughout his four years at North Carolina topping out at 78 percent his senior year — a full 20 percent better than when he arrived at Chapel Hill as a freshman (per RealGM). Expect Hicks to get lots of minutes as a DubKnick and even make an appearance in the big league down the road.
On the other side of the paint is Nigel Hayes who, in my opinion, is a perfect complement to Hicks. The hybrid forward is a better all-around player than Hicks and is able to stretch the defense. His athleticism allows him to hold is own down low as well as excel at guarding perimeter players. Hayes also could potentially make the NBA roster at some point, but the Wisconsin graduate will be a very solid player who can dish, score, and rebound from the forward position before a potential big league call up.
To me, he was one of the most underrated guys in college last year. Additionally, his excellent post game even makes great defenders look bad:
Other big men who will contribute to the cause this year are big Jordan Henriquez and Luke Kornet. Both of these guys hover around seven feet tall and are very savvy around the rim. The Westchester County native Henriquez is a load down low and is a very adept shot blocker. Kornet as well is known for swatting shots in the other direction as he blocked a school record 10(!) shots in one game. Don’t expect huge scoring numbers from these guys when they are on the floor but don’t expect much scoring from the other team either.
If you’re sick of consuming the same garbage on a nightly basis from the New York Knicks (I already am), I would highly recommend checking out a Westchester Knicks game this season if in the White Plains area. They are young, exciting, and attending can make for an affordable and fun time for everyone involved.
Although it is difficult to predict the record of a G League team with many moving parts and team transactions I am going to attempt it anyway: 28–22 for this years DubKnicks. Go Westchester.