Why the Knicks should select Justise Winslow with the fourth pick

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

According to most NBA Draft experts, the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell rank as the top consolation prizes for teams falling just short of nabbing Jahlil Okafor and/or Karl-Anthony Towns at number one and two overall, respectively.

This would obviously include the Knicks, who arguably have the most to gain with so much rebuilding to do.

Each guard is very talented, boasting very promising futures. But a point guard isn’t what the Knicks need. Of course, the draft is often about selecting the best overall talent. It’s not that New York has a floor general on board already — finding talent through the draft means building for the future, and Jose Calderon’s first campaign with the team was underwhelming anyway. It’s more so that the triangle offense doesn’t call for a point guard to be a centralized figure in the system.

If Russell falls to number four, a case could be made for them Knicks to select him because of his ability to play off the ball. But, alas, it’s much more likely to be Mudiay left at the top of the board when it comes time for the Knicks to make their pick. Mudiay shouldn’t be the player New York is targeting. The young gun is an explosive player around the rim and a dynamic scorer, but he clearly thrives with the ball in his hands. He’d serve much better in an offense that runs through him.

The Knicks already employ a player like that in Carmelo Anthony. The superstar can create his own offense better than most players in the NBA. When healthy, Anthony seemed to struggle this past season while adjusting to the triangle. The system is all about spreading the floor and moving the ball. Players are constantly on the run.

There’s only one basketball, and it may not be big enough for both Anthony and Mudiay (let alone, everyone else that stands to get touches in the offense).

Taking all of this into consideration, the Knicks should strongly consider drafting Justise Winslow. He may not be the best raw talent, but he arguably stands to have more success in the triangle than any other player in the draft. The swingman is agile, athletic, explosive, and plays with a boatload of energy. Able to move his feet very well, Winslow has the potential to guard up to three positions on the court. This makes him very versatile, all the while giving the Knicks the best chance to be creative with different lineups. While he doesn’t have the best jump shot, Winslow is a great slasher and knows how to make his way inside and get to the basket effectively.

Nevertheless, the fact that some of his biggest strengths are displayed when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands is a huge plus for a team like the Knicks.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s coming to the NBA fresh off an NCAA national championship. He’s a winner, which obviously plays into the culture Phil Jackson and Co. are trying to create.

Though Mudiay may have more talent, it’s up for debate whether or not the Knicks would be able to utilize such talent (or if it would seemingly go to waste) in the triangle. The system doesn’t allow for a traditional point guard to shine.

On the flip side, Winslow could contribute in a number of different ways. He has the opportunity to grow and develop his skills even further, all while making an immediate impact. This is the type of player New York should target in the draft.


Observations from the Knicks’ loss to the Warriors

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Taking a one-point lead into the second quarter against the league-leading Warriors, the Knicks arguably had one of their best opening quarters of the entire season.

They kept up with Golden State, trading buckets and maintaining a certain tempo in the early goings. From there, the home team picked up the pace even more. The Knicks’ defense was spread too thin, as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson nearly single-handedly sunk New York. They each knocked down six daggers from deep a piece.

From there on out, things got back to normal for New York. Nevertheless, despite the loss, there were still some takeaways worth making note of, especially as the team continues to explore different players as potential fits for next season’s roster. See below for more observations.

– Langston Galloway has certainly had his inconsistencies from the field this season, but he’s one of the better rebounding guards the Knicks have employed in recent years. His tenacity in getting to balls off missed shot attempts is impressive, as he’s able to sneak inside and evade bigger defenders. Not many smaller guards can say the same.

– Scoring in double-figures (in quite efficient fashion, to say the least) over the last two games since returning from back spasms, Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to take advantage of a newfound opportunity. Being able to prove himself offensively as a centralized figure will be key to an increased role next season. The Knicks need to see more of the same from him.

– Leading the team with 18 points, it’s clear Andrea Bargnani is an efficient offensive player. His ability to step out away from the basket, all the while converting on such shot attempts, makes him a steady threat. For the Knicks’ sake, it’s a shame he hasn’t been able to remain healthy.

– With a team-high plus/minus of +3, Cole Aldrich was arguably the Knicks’ best performer in the loss. Playing gritty defense down low, the big man grabbed nine rebounds and swatted five blocks. Offensively, he dished out five assists as well.


Phil Jackson fined for comments regarding Ohio St. star

Knicks president Phil Jackson has been fined by the NBA for his comments regarding Ohio St. star D’Angelo Russell (AP, March 4).

Jackson was in attendance for the Ohio St-Nebraska game last Thursday night and told Cleveland.com that Russell was a “great looking kid” and a “great prospect.”

NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed the fine Tuesday night but did not disclose the amount.

Team personnel are prohibited from publicly discussing players who aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft.

This isn’t the first time Jackson has been punished by the league for his public comments. Last season he was fined $250,000 for prematurely stating Derek Fisher was a head coaching candidate while he was still playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Could former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw join the Knicks?

With the Knicks struggling under rookie head coach Derek Fisher, will Phil Jackson seek out recently fired Brian Shaw to join their staff? (Berman, March 4)

Shaw was fired Tuesday night after serving as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets for less than two seasons. He led the Nuggets to a 36-46 record last season and 20-39 this year.

It was believed that Jackson preferred Shaw over Fisher in his pursuit for a head coach last off season. But Denver was unwilling to let Shaw walk at the time.

Jackson has both coached and worked with Shaw. He coached him with the Lakers from 1999-2003 and then Shaw served as both a scout and assistant under Jackson from 2005-11.


Knicks loss to Kings was ‘disappointing’ for Fisher

Derek Fisher might be running out of ways to stay positive as the Knicks fell to 12-47 on the season after being steamrolled by the Kings Tuesday night (Post, March 3).

“It was definitely not the level of character and integrity this group has been showing in recent weeks,’’ Fisher said. “That was the most disappointing part. It’s not necessarily losing the game but just the way as a group, we couldn’t find a way to compete.’’

None of the Knicks starters hit double figures and they trailed the Kings by as many as 44 points late in the third period. Fisher said this energy was similar to what he saw from them in practice on Monday – which isn’t exactly a good thing.

“We were flat,” Shane Larkin said. “And they were just out there playing free-flowing basketball.”


Today’s game: Knicks vs Cavaliers

The Knicks host the Cavaliers this afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. and can be seen on MSG and heard on ESPN radio (98.7).

Jose Calderon, Lance Thomas, Langston Galloway, Jason Smith and Lou Amundson are expected to start for the Knicks.

Shane Larkin has been ruled out (Strep throat).

J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, who the Knicks traded to the Cavs, make their return to MSG today.



Travis Wear’s D-League brother discusses his potential & work ethic

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

As Phil Jackson prepares to put his own stamp on the Knicks and build from the ground up this coming summer, he and the rest of the team’s brass will use the rest of this season to evaluate and examine which of New York’s current players may be worth holding onto.

Of course, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr., Pablo Prigioni, and Jose Calderon are among those currently under contract for next season. Langston Galloway is owed a partial guarantee. Other options include Lance Thomas and Travis Wear.

In Wear’s case, the forward turned heads following Summer League and training camp, impressing just enough, not only to sneak onto the opening night roster, but also earn his full guaranteed salary after managing to stick around past January.

From emerging as a LeBron James stopper in what is now considered a rare Knicks victory back in October, to slowly but steadily serving as someone who can space the floor and spread opposing defense, Wear has certainly made his mark. His ability to hit the mid-range jumper allows him to excel in the triangle.

NBA: New York Knicks-Media Day

At only 24-years-old and not likely to command much money next season, Wear might be worth keeping around. His brother certainly seems to think so, though, he, of course, may be a little biased.

TheKnicksBlog.com and SNY.tv spoke to David Wear, twin brother of Travis, during NBA All-Star Weekend. The Knickbocker’s sibling was participating in the D-League’s Three-Point Contest, representing the Sacramento Kings’ affiliated Reno Bighorns.

“[Travis] is a hard worker. He’s been very team-oriented over his whole life. He does what it takes to win basketball games,” the minor leaguer explained about his brother. “Whether that’s about doing all of the little things, or stepping up and being more of a scorer, we’ve both had to fill different roles throughout high school and college.”

Wear has already displayed an ability, and downright willingness, to adapt, roll with the punches, and serve in different capacities for the Knicks. He’s a steady shooter and continues to prove he won’t be a defensive liability.

“The number one thing [about Travis] is his mindset to do whatever it takes to win basketball games,” his brother added.

“It’s always been great. All of our lives, we’ve had someone of equal caliber to work out with and play against. We’re both each other’s biggest supporter, but also our own biggest critic,” the twin said as he reminisced about growing up with the Knicks’ rookie.  “We’ve gotten into more fights after games and practices than I can count, because when you’re a twin, I think you always expect perfection out of the other.”

The Knicks’ Wear undoubtedly defeated the odds when by rising to the NBA ranks this season. His brother is averaging 16.7 points and 6.9 rebounds for Reno, which suggests it may not be long before the two are matching up against one another in The Association.

“That’d be a dream come true. It’d be surreal, really. We’ve dreamed about that all of our lives, so it’d obviously be really special,” the Bighorn confessed.  “To not only be able to put on an NBA uniform, but also look across the court and see your brother, I can’t really think of anything more special than that.”

(Travis) Wear has played sparingly for the Knicks over the last ten games, but did show some promise by averaging 7.1 points and 2.9 during the month of January.