The NCAA Tournament was underway, and I was able to marvel at the talents of Karl Anthony Towns, Jahill Okafor and DeAngelo Russell and dreamed of the possibility of seeing one of them in a Knicks uniform.
With the Knicks in the midst of their worst season in franchise history, my dream seemed quite possible. Never in a million years on that March night did I think my beloved Knicks would end up with a 19-year-old forward from Latvia that was unknown to most New Yorkers until last week.
Life can be cruel sometimes, especially to Knicks fans.
I’ll make myself perfectly clear. I hate the decision to take Kristaps Porzingis with the 4th pick in the NBA Draft.
My anger level was tempered mildly by acquiring Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant midway through the 1st round in exchange for one-trick pony Tim Hardaway Jr., but there was no sugarcoating it. Draft night was devastating for yours truly.
Now, I hate the pick despite the fact that I’ve never seen Porzingis play basketball, same for almost everyone else reading this column.
However, I also hate this pick for a variety of reasons.
According to pretty much every report you read, Porzingis is at least two to three years from having an immediate impact in the NBA. All well and good for most lousy NBA teams, but not one that paid its star player Carmelo Anthony $120-plus million in the summer of 2014.
I understand Rome was not built in a day, 1st round picks aren’t expected to turn into All-Stars right away, but I was counting on immediate impact from the 4th pick in the draft. You will not get that from Porzingis.
I simply don’t understand the thought process and the rationale behind what Phil Jackson is trying to do. You pay Carmelo Anthony max money, he’s under contract for the next four years, wouldn’t it make sense to draft a player who could come in and contribute right away?
We detailed two players specifically who would have made much more sense in last week’s column. Justice Winslow and Emmanuel Mudiay, who both in my eyes would have been able to grow as NBA players but help Carmelo and the Knicks immediately.
It just seems like the Knicks are contradicting their big move that they made last offseason with a 1st round pick that seems to be the definition of a big-time project.
Yes, you’ll hear about his shooting touch, his size and how he’s a can’t-miss player coming in from overseas where the international player has closed the gap somewhat, but consider the following troubling statistic.
Since Yao Ming was drafted in 2002, 19 international players have been drafted in the lottery and not one has been selected to play in an All-Star game.
The odds are stacked against Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks. I hope he’s some ridiculous combo of Dirk and Gasol tied into one.
The Knicks, Phil Jackson and yes, Carmelo Anthony, need that potential to be realized.
Sadly, I think we’ll look back at Draft Night 2015 as another blunder in the ever-growing list for the Knicks over the last 15 years.