One thing that New York Knick fans are not able to say about Phil Jackson, is he did not set up a nice young core for the Knicks’ future. He has collected a handful of good young players that should be viable assets even when he steps down as President of Basketball Operations. Breaking down what these players give to New York will give us a good understanding of what we can expect to see in the future.
Galloway was signed to two consecutive 10-day contracts last season beginning in January, and he gave the Knicks a much-needed spark, averaging 9.8 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds over 24.2 minutes in his first four games for New York. Galloway has long arms which helps him on the defensive end, and he has a knack for hitting big shots in the clutch. I suspect we will be seeing a lot of Langston Galloway over the years.
Early is heading into his second full season with New York. He is a versatile wing with a lot of upside if he can be more consistent with his shot. In his first season with New York, he averaged 5.3 points, on 35.5% shooting, in 16.6 minutes per-game. Throughout the season he showed glimpses of what he can become as a player. Such as some clutch shots, and showing off his athleticism by dunking in transition. Early played well this past off-season during the Summer League, but he is still raw. Don’t expect many minutes from Early next season with the new guys coming in.
The brother of who I believe to be a future NBA All-Star one day (Giannis Antetokounmpo), has just signed his first NBA contract with New York over the summer. Thanasis played for the Knicks D-League team last year, averaging 13.8 points, and 5.2 rebounds, while playing stellar defense by averaging 1.6 steals, and 1.6 blocks. Thanasis is a project on offense, but if Derek Fisher limits his perimeter shots, and has him focus on driving and finishing hard at the rim, he could be a nice backup to All-Star Carmelo Anthony next season.
The player who New York drafted with the 4th overall pick in this years’ draft, is a controversial one to say the least. It seemed as though everyone, including myself, was a skeptic about drafting him. But strangely enough, after a few weeks, everybody seemed to start to warm to him. Watching him in Summer League was fun, because we all got to watch him play in the United States for the first time. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in the 14-15 Eurocup. Yes, he is a European, yes, he is 7’3, and yes, he might be the skinniest player ever drafted in the history of the NBA. But no need to fear Knickerbocker fans! He has supposedly gained 11-pounds in the offseason, and his goal is 15 before training camp! Anyway, do not expect him to start in the beginning of the season, and expect a ton of criticism from the first, to the last game of the season.
The 6’5″ senior out of Notre Dame who can shoot, post-up, and drive to basket and get fouled consistently, has tremendous up-side. Not to mention those are the specific attributes needed to be a guard playing in the triangle offense. Grant can flourish in this system, and I think it’s only a matter of time until he does. With an old, Jose Calderon who is a defensive liability especially with the point guards in the league today, Grant has a great chance in starting for the Knicks at some point this year. Grant is quick, and a great passer in transition. He will fit perfectly in what Phil Jackson is trying to create in the Big Apple.
All of these young players who Phil Jackson has brought in are capable of creating great chemistry with one another. The triangle will grow on these players as they continue to run the system that has brought the Chicago Bulls six championships, and the Los Angeles Lakers five. The season starts in 40 days. Once the season begins we will get an idea of if it will be another disaster, or a step in the right direction.