The New York Knicks entered Thursday’s 2015 NBA Draft with just one pick, but they might be the biggest story of the night. The Knicks made a "controversial" selection at No.4 overall, and executed multiple trades on draft day.
The crowd at Barclays Center was not happy when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that New York selected Kristaps Porzingis with their only pick. The Latvian-born player wasn’t known by most NBA fans until the days leading up to the draft, and those in attendance weren’t shy about voicing their displeasure.
Later in the draft, New York dealt their last first-round pick in a trade that hasn’t received much criticism. The Knicks sent Tim Hardaway Jr., whom they took 24th overall in 2013, to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Jerian Grant. The Notre Dame grad was taken with the No.19 overall selection.
Before the night was done, the Knicks made a smaller trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. They acquired No.35 overall pick Guillermo Hernangomez from Spain for second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. Hernangomez played overseas with Porzingis and is expected to stay in Europe next year.
Knicks president Phil Jackson has been under the microscope since he was hired to run the team, and hasn’t been scrutinized more than over the last few days. He’s in charge of improving a team that had its worst season in franchise history.
Below is a closer look at the Knicks’ two first-round picks, and how well the team did on draft day.
Kristaps Porzinigis (4th overall)
Porzinigis could end up being a great pick for the Knicks. Standing at 7’1, though he might be as tall as 7’3, the 19-year-old seems to have all the tools to become an All-Star. He’s athletic, he can shoot, and he has a chance to be a good shot blocker. Some experts believe he’ll end up being the best player in the draft, even better than Karl-Anthony Town, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor.
I think Porzingis will be a star in New York. More elite GM's believe in his talent than any other player in this draft.
â€” Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2015
But Knicks fans weren’t the only ones not pleased with the pick. According to both Frank Isola of the New York Daily News and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Carmelo Anthony was not happy that New York took a project in Porzingis. Anthony turned 31 in May and enters the second year of his five-year deal in what will be his 13th NBA season. While Porzingis could become a star, the general consensus it that he’ll need a few years to develop.
The pick doesn’t do much to help the Knicks win next year, but it's unlikely that any selection would have made them any sort of contender in the 2015-2016 season. The fact that Jackson took a player that can help them in the future is a good sign, and Porzingis’ ceiling is very high. But the struggles of recent foreign draftees (none of the last 19 foreign-born lottery picks have made an All-Star team) prevent this from being a great pick.
Jerian Grant (19th overall)
Acquiring Grant was Jackson’s shrewdest move of the draft. While having no more picks for the rest of the night, the Knicks ended up with one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
Grant’s ceiling might not be as high as many first-round picks, but he can help the Knicks right away. He’s one of the most experienced players in the draft, having played four years with Notre Dame. He averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 assists per game as a senior, shooting 47.8 percent from the field. Not only does he give the Knicks help at point guard, which they desperately need, but his athleticism gives him a chance to be one of the better players that were selected on Thursday.
New Knick Jerian Grant here. http://t.co/6nrHDBLsM8
â€” HoopsHype (@hoopshype) June 26, 2015
Tim Hardaway Jr. has a chance to be a good player, but he hasn’t shown enough in two NBA seasons that would’ve warranted the Knicks turning down such a deal. His biggest strength is his shooting ability, but his three-point percentage of 34.2 wasn’t close to being elite last season, and he’s proven to be a defensive liability.
Grant is versatile with the ability to play both guard positions for the Knicks. There are some questions about how well he’ll fit in the triangle, but his shot doesn’t need that much work and he should be able to find success as a rookie.