In order for us to better know our mysterious new Knicks, I'm reaching out to the best and brightest experts. Syracuse's Andy Rautins was the first Knick selected in Thursday night's draft, so I sent a carrier pigeon to Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician's Sean Keeley for some insight on the Canadian guard. My pigeon, David Wingate, returned some hours later with a message handwritten by Mr. Keeley himself. You can read what Sean had to say after the jump. Go ahead, jump. You scared or something?
"Andy Rautins just shoots threes." That's probably what you've been hearing about Andy and that's probably what everyone is going to say about him all summer. Yes, Andy Rautins is very good at shooting basketballs from beyong the three-point line. One of the best in Syracuse history. But to say "all he does is shoot threes" is a discredit to how hard Andy worked over the course of his SU career and how well he played his senior season.
When he came to Syracuse, Rautins was an unknown quantity. Sure he was a good high school player but, let's face it, he was a legacy. Leo Rautins' kid. Chances were that he's never see any meaningful time at Syracuse and an NBA career was out of the question. For two seasons Andy was exactly what everyone thinks he is, a three-point specialist. That was pretty much all he could do. That seemed like all he would ever be.
In the summers, Andy started playing for his father on the Canadian Basketball team. Tragically that time was cut short when he tore his ACL during a game. An injury that also forced him to miss an entire season at Syracuse. Oddly enough, that injury might have been the best thing that could have happened to him.
Rautins returned from his ACL tear in the best shape of his life. He had bulked up. He was a better athlete. He was still an assassin from downtown but he was beginning to develop a more refined game. His defense improved in the zone and he became a sneaky-good passer. In the summer before his senior year, Andy led the Canadian team in International play...as a point guard.
All of this translated into a humongous jump in Andy's ability in his senior season. Andy somewhat surprised us with his massively-improved defense at the top of the 2-3 zone. And he slightly-surprised us with his passing skills, which bordered on best-in-the-nation at times. But what really shocked us was the fact that Andy Rautins, not Wes Johnson, became the leader of the Syracuse basketball team. It was Andy who rallies the troops when needed. It was Andy who got emotional and fired up. It was Andy that Boeheim looked to in order to control the team and the game.
Wes Johnson was the star, Andy Rautins was the MVP.
Andy leaves Syracuse as one of the most beloved players in school history. He doesn't have Carmelo's title or Gerry McNamara's penchant for the dramatic, but we literally watched Andy Rautins grow up from a talented boy with one skill into a complete basketball player.
How will it all translate in the NBA? I'm not sure. Despite his improved skills in various areas, Andy's greatest value does remain his shooting ability, though it would be unwise to discount his ability to move the ball and distribute. A lot of folks are saying the Knicks were dumb for wasting a high pick on a guy they could have gotten as a free agent but I think that's giving too much credence to the mock draft idiots and not enough credence to the team workouts that Andy performed extremely well in. The Knicks saw enough of Andy to know that he was going to get drafted, regardless of what HoopsPicksGuy.Blogspot.Org said in his mock draft. Maybe he was slightly high but if he gives you 10-12 minutes off the bench and a scoring threat from the wing, isn't that what you expect out of a 2nd-round pick?
Some special nuggets you guys might want to know about Andy...
We call him the Fauxhawk. Obviously he doesn't have one now. But he used to. And it was glorious.
Leo Rautins is his father. This will be mentioned during every Knicks broadcast from now until the time Andy is no longer on the team. I apologize on behalf of horrible broadcasters everywhere.
His fashion sense is awesome, obviously.
His brother Mike is an actor living in New York City so there's going to be a little reunion, I'm sure.
Keep him away from Chipotle. Trust me.
If fauxhawks and Chipotle don't get you a little more jazzed for the Andy Rautins era, then I don't know what will. Massive thanks to Sean for his response. More on Rautins and the rest of the fellows in the near future.