Keith SchlosserLeading up to Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Knicks were reportedly looking to entice opposing teams to toss a first-rounder their way. In return, New York was dangling the recently acquired guard Shane Larkin.
The 21-year-old’s rookie campaign was slowed by a devastating ankle injury suffered prior to Summer League last offseason. From there, he struggled to find a groove and come into his own with few minutes coming his way in Dallas.
Despite limited action last season, Larkin still has a potentially bright future ahead of him. He was a collegiate stud at Miami, and could prove worthy of eating up some minutes at point guard in the Knicks’ rotation this coming season.
And though he failed to make his mark in The Association this past year, Larkin still managed to turn a few heads anyway. While on D-League assignment with the Mavericks-affiliated Texas Legends, opposing coaches made note of Larkin’s ability to look like a man amongst boys.
“He’s an athletic guard who was really running the team. He did a great job of getting them into their stuff,” Los Angeles D-Fenders head coach Bob MacKinnon told The Knicks Blog and SNY.tv. “After we played him, I saw Shane as a guy with, in my mind, a ten to twelve year future in the NBA.”
Coach MacKinnon added, “This was just from him being on assignment. He didn’t even have a lot of time to play with that team, but still did a great job of running their [offense]. He scored when he had opportunities, but didn’t dominate the shots. I thought he was a very efficient point guard.”
Being able to succeed without much time to get very acclimated with one’s teammates further suggests Larkin has steady instincts and knows how to lead.
The Knicks are in a transitional period where assets such as picks and young players on cheaper contracts are all the more valuable. And although the team failed to flip Larkin for a first-round pick on Thursday night, perhaps the youngster can add just as much value in the form of potential contributions on the court, if given the chance. Having been selected eighteenth overall in last year’s draft, one has to wonder how many players (point guards especially) from this year’s draft class should be considered more talented than Larkin?
Putting it simply, Coach MacKinnon asserted, “I think what the Knicks did there is acquire a first-round talent.”
Someone with a special eye for young talent, Coach MacKinnon is not only head coach of the Lakers’ minor league affiliate, but also the program director for the D-League’s elite mini-camp and annual national tryouts.