Knicks 2015 Draft Reaction & Breakdown

Written by Ian Ellis (iellis2018@yahoo.com)

Hey guys, I’m baaaaack to help explain what happened last night. The Knicks got three players: Kristaps Porzingis (4th Pick), Jerian Grant (19th Pick) and Guillermo Hernangomez (35th Pick). So everybody calm down, and let’s begin!

Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia

Kristaps Porzingis

The Knicks made a huge splash in the draft by taking the big man from Latvia with the 4th pick. To be completely honest, I booed this pick for the first minute after the pick, just like most of the Barclays Center, but after that I reminded myself why I and all other Knicks fans should be excited with the pick. Let’s look more into Porzingis.

Player Analysis

Pros:

Physical Tools: Porzingis is very long at around 7’3″. May I repeat, 7′ freaking 3″. That’s huge for a player projected to be a PF in the league. Size is not the only thing going for Porzingis, as he is also very athletic. In addition to all of this, he is very smooth and quick like a guard in his movements, he is not just a huge and clunky bigman (*cough* Bargs *cough*)

Shooting: Porzingis has a silky smooth stroke and might be the best shooter in the entire draft class. This, with his superb size, gives him an unblockable shot and allows him to space the floor. In addition he has a very good touch around the basket.

Level of Competition: It should be noted that he played in the ACB last year, probably the best basketball league besides the NBA. Granted, there still is a huge dropoff in play, but it’s good to note that Porzingis probably played against better competition than players like Karl Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA.

Defensive Potential: While Porzingis struggles with defensive concepts (like most young big) and will struggle defending post players due to his lack of strength, he has the tools to become an outstanding shot blocker and pick & roll defender.

Attitude: The problem with a lot of these Euro busts it seems like is that they don’t love the game. For example, when you watch Bargs play, he never seems to really care. From what’s he’s told us, he really cares. He has amazing English, which shows that he wants to learn the game here with language not being a barrier. He’s already said how he doesn’t want to be the next Bargs or Darko or Weis. He’s shown a fire and desire for the game, which I think is important.

Cons:

Weight: This is the biggie. Porzingis is veeeery skinny right now and needs to gets way stronger. Because of this, he probably won’t be able to play in the post or defend in the post early in his career. Also, this will make it harder for him to rebound. Also remember, players like Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Anthony Davis came into the league pretty skinny. These players are all pretty good, so I believe that he can and he will get stronger.

Rebounding: Porzingis is not a good rebounder. He’s said that he doesn’t mind contact, so I don’t think it’s his his mindset that’s bad, he just isn’t strong enough to. When he does get stronger, look for him to be a good rebounder with his combined height and athleticism.

Post Game: Similar to rebounding, Porzingis just isn’t strong enough yet. He has good touch, so one he adds some more moves and gets stronger, he should improve here.

Passing: This is what worries me the most because while you can get stronger, you can’t exactly teach passing instincts. Porzingis is not a good passer like Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony Towns, which is big because once he starts commanding more attention from defenses, he’s going to have to be able to find open players and shooters.

What I like about the Pick:

What I like about the pick is that the Knicks went out and took the player with the most potential. While Emmanuel Mudiay may disagree, Porzingis has the most potential of who was left on the board. When you get a top 5 pick and you badly need talent, you swing for the fences and that’s what the Knicks did. I also like how Phil didn’t let the crowd deter his pick. Many would’ve not picked Porzingis because of the negative press NYK got, but Phil did it and it may just pay off in future.

What I don’t like about the Pick:

One thing is while Porzingis has immense potential, he still has major bust potential too. Euro big men haven’t done so well in the lottery after Dirk and Pau. Remember, if the Knicks mess up this pick, they are majorly screwed for the next 10 years. Also, Porzingis’s learning curve isn’t ideal, because he’s not going to start this year and won’t be very good until his 3rd season. By that time, Melo is going to be past his prime, so this is a weird and not ideal dynamic to put together. Finally, what I dislike about the pick the most is the lack of trade action. When Emmanuel Mudiay fell to 7, I expected immediately for there to ba report of the Knicks trading down. When Justise Winslow fell to 9 and 10, I expected the Knicks to call up Charlotte and Miami, especially Charlotte for a deal like Porzingis for MKG and Winslow. Boston was offering 6 whole freaking picks for pick 9, I was expecting for them to offer a HUGE amount of assets for Porzingis. What I’m saying is after all the talks of trading down, I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t do that in this draft because the scenarios we peeeerfect in this draft to do exactly that.

How it affects free agency:

Of course we have to connect this to free agency. This move means that the Knicks still need starters, especially big men. If the Knicks drafted WCS, Mudiay or Winslow, we could already pencil in them as a starter, but Porzingis will NOT start his rookie year unless he’s being criminally underrated like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert were. So, the Knicks for sure are going to have to sign at least two starting big men this summer. Also (get ready to feel happy Knicks fans), this should signal the end of the Andrea Bargnani era in New York. There previously were rumors of Phil bringing him back on the minimum, but this should completely end those rumors.

Overall Pick Grade: B+

While I spent a long time talking about how I didn’t like the pick, overall I think it was a good pick. The Knicks got a player that has a potential to become the star of the franchise for the next 10 or more years. The reason why I didn’t give it an A is because of the bust potential and awkward learning curve, but overall for a franchise that badly needs talent and big men for the future, it didn’t affect the grade too much. The bottom line is that us fans have to realize that Porzingis is going to take time to develop, so we can’t just give up on him immediately, we have to be patient. Also something to note: the Knicks have been pretty good at scouting talent recently, especially foreign talent (Gallinari, Prigioni, Copeland) recently, so I think that is something good to think about regarding the pick.

 

Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame

Jerian Grant

If you’re a Knick fan and you didn’t like the Porzingis pick, that’s alright because that’s still debatable, but this pick should make you hella happy. The Knicks made a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, sending Tim Hardaway Jr. to Atlanta and the rights to the 19th pick Jerian Grant to NY.  Let’s put this into perspective: Hardaway Jr. was picked 25th in the notoriously bad 2013 NBA draft (or the Anthony Bennett draft). Hardaway Jr. is coming of a horrible sophomore season in the NBA but Phil managed to use his Jedi mind tricks on Atlanta to get the 19th pick in this year’s really good draft. That’s an amazing pick, because everyone thought that THJ’s trade value was a early to mid 2nd rounder or maybe a pick in the late 20’s if a team was reaching for shooting, but we got the freaking 19th pick in Jerian Grant. Alright, now to him as a player.

Player Analysis

Pros:

Physical Tools: While D’angelo Russell were talked the most about their physical tools at the PG position this draft, Jerian Grant fits into the same category. Grant is long and nicely built at 6’5″. He also is athletic for his position.

NBA Ready: Grant spent 4 years in college, so he’s coming out very polished in his game. He’s coming out of college where he will be able to contribute immediately and possible start immediately.

Playmaker: Grant is your prototypical pass first point guard that the Knicks need. Grant is great in the pick & roll, is great at finding his open teammates and and is great at making everyone on his team better.

Defense: Grant is a good defender with good defensive instincts, good length good and size. While he won’t be a lockdown defender in the NBA, he will be a very solid one.

Cons:

Age: While Grant is very polished, he doesn’t have a ton of potential because of his older age. What this means is that fans shouldn’t be expecting star potential when drafting him.

Shooting: Grant has a decent mid range and not a great 3 point shot, so Grant will need to improve on this to be able to space the floor and make sure opposing defenses don’t just sag off of him.

Decision Making: Sometimes Grant takes ill advised shots and makes questionable passes, but some of this I blame on nearly everything being played through Grant while he was at Notre Dame. Some times when players get so big of a role in an offense, this makes them take more risks and heat check shots, so this hold go down when his role goes down.

What I like about the Pick

What I like about the pick is that they were able to turn Tim Hardaway Jr. into an NBA player that can do multiple things and contribute immediately. With the Porzingis pick earlier, the Knicks needed to pick up someone who can contribute immediately, which Grant can certainly do (heck, he might even start next year). Also, seen in the Pros vs Cons section, Grant can play both sides of the court effectively and impact the game in many different ways. This is great because I’m sick of Tim Hardaway Jr. like players; NBA players that literally can only do one thing and nothing else effectively. I want players that can do multiple things (is this too much to ask for as a Knick fan?).  Also, with a team sporting/featuring Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis (probably more in the future then now) and some big free agent signings, someone’s going to have to get them the ball and dishing the ball is Grant’s specialty.

What I don’t like about the Pick:

Nothing at all. If you want to be a stickler, you can maybe say that the Knicks should’ve went after a wing like Rondae Hollis Jefferson considering that the Knicks already have José Calderón and Langston Galloway. But overall I like everything about the pick.

How it affects free agency:

This pick means that the Knicks will not be targeting any PG this offseason. Knicks already have José Calderón and Langston Galloway to couple with Grant, all three which are NBA quality rotation guards, so for a team that has many needs, they shouldn’t and probably won’t try to improve a position that they are the strongest in at this moment.

Overall Pick Grade: A+

All in all, this was an amazing trade and an amazing pick for the Knicks, so they get the coveted A+.

 

Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez, C, Sevilla

Guillermo "Willy" Hernangomez

The Knicks put on their best #SPURSMODEL impersonation by trading two future second rounders (we don’t know which ones yet) to the 76ers for the 35th pick, Willy Hernangomez. Hernangomez played on the same team Porzingis did last year, and he is going to be a draft & stash pick for at least next year (his contract with Sevilla expires after this upcoming year). I don’t know a lot on Hernangomez but here is what I do know.

Player Analysis

Pros:

Mobility: Hernangomez is very mobile around the court and is also pretty strong to go alongside that.

Offense: Hernangomez is very crafty in the post and has started to develop a nice outside shot. On top of this, he is a nice offensive rebounder.

Cons:

Explosiveness: While Hernangomez is mobile, he isn’t very explosive and isn’t very athletic around the basket, which makes it harder for him to finish against longer defenders.

Defense: This is Hernangomez’s biggest weakness, he is not good on the defensive end of the court. He isn’t an amazing defensive rebounder (he’s not bad either) and is a suspect post and help defender.

What I like about the Pick

I like that the Knicks are getting a draft & stash player. This is because the Knicks will get to keep his rights but they don’t have to sign him so he doesn’t count on their cap. From the limited stuff I’ve seen and read on Hernangomez, he sounds like he can be a nice offensive spark off the bench when he comes over.

What I don’t like about the Pick:

I’m not sure if Hernangomez was worth two future second rounders but that doesn’t really anger me enough to hate the trade.

How it affects free agency:

Not at all really. Assuming that he is a draft & stash, he’s not coming over this year so the Knicks just keep his rights and it doesn’t go against the cap.

Overall Pick Grade: B+

I’m tempted to put an incomplete because we don’t know which picks are being traded yet, but I still say this is a B+ move because here the Knicks are getting a young player who can develop in Europe, and when he’s ready, he can be a cheap, young bench player on a team that by then should be more competitive in the playoffs.

Overall Knicks Draft Grade: A-

Overall, I think the Knicks did very well on draft day. The Knicks got Porzingis at 4 which is risky but overall worth it, they traded Tim Hardaway Jr. for the 19th pick Jerian Grant which was a huge steal, and they got Guillermo Hernangomez at 35 in a trade with the 76ers. These moves helped improve the Knicks next year and for years to come.
Alright, I hope that cleared any questions regarding the draft. Free agency’s up next! Remember, teams can start talking to players and agree on deals starting July 1st but they can’t start signing players July 9th. Until next time, go the Knicks!

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