I am home from the NBA Draft. I can't say I gained any insight by being AT the NBA Draft, except I knew the Knicks were going to draft Cleanthony Early a few seconds before it broke because Adrian Wojnarowski asked aloud how to spell his first name. Anyway, let's talk about what just happened and what it all MEANS.
First of all, no trades. Reports of Shane Larkin or whoever getting packaged with picks for earlier picks fizzled, and the reports that Phil Jackson really likes Iman Shumpert and wants to keep him beat out suggestions that Shump might be dealt for a first-rounder. I'm happy with that, because I reckon there was real talent in this draft beyond the first round and 34 was a nice place to be. On that note!
#34: Cleanthony Early
I watch very little college basketball, especially when the Knicks don't have a draft pick coming up (or so I think). Even with my limited exposure, I managed to be impressed by Cleanthony Early. It's pronounced Cle-an-tho-ny, by the way. Not Clean-thony. I do appreciate, though, that his name lends itself to both "clean" puns and "early" puns. Anyway.
If you want 13 minutes of organized Cleanthony Early clips over grating, cannibalized hip-hop beats, here you go:
What I got from that: Early is a strong, medium-sized forward without a traditional position. He led Wichita State in scoring this past year because he's a fantastic finisher on the move and has a well-formed-- if not consistent-- jumper. On the other end, Early seems like one of those guys built well enough to play good man defense, yet not someone with much of a reputation for locking folks up. He didn't pass at all in college. Not one bit. Early reminds me a bit of Wilson Chandler coming out of college-- not big enough to be a big man, not deft enough to be a guard-- but perhaps a little readier. At 34, I like this pick.
Some other facts and reading material:
- Early grew up in the Bronx and Middletown, NY in the Hudson Valley then spent two years at community college before joining the Shockers. The Daily News did a fantastic piece on Early's upbringing during the NCAA Tournament.
- 40-inch vertical, y'all. If nothing else, there will be dunkings.
- Important bluecheese-y fact if the Knicks end up keeping Toure' Murry around to play with Early:
fyi, @seth_rosenthal @MissyC4 Last time 2 Shox played for the Knicks they won an NBA Championship. Nate Bowman and Dave Stallworth 1970>— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) June 27, 2014
Here's an interview:
#51: Thanasis Antetokounmpo
First, let's DX:
Those blocks, man.
You know Giannis. Thanasis is his older (21), shorter, significantly less talented brother. He's fast and bouncy and really not that bad with the ball in his hands, but other than that has very few discrete skills at this point. He's strong and agile enough to play good one-on-one defense, but doesn't seem to have much sense for team defense at this point. Nice, then, that he's at least had that year of D-League experience.
So, yeah, Thanasis (full name Athanasios, by the way, and last name roughly pronounced Ahn-de-to-koom-po) is what the people call a "project." That's okay at the 51st pick, I think, and that's before you account for how goddamn fun this kid is. The whole family is wonderful and their story is both fascinating and full of hardship. Here's a lovely, new piece on Thanasis, and here are the Antetokounmbros celebrating Thursday night:
Hell yeah, that's a wooden bowtie:
I didn't even know Antetokounmpo was in the building, but Kenny Ducey managed to get a mic in front of him for a few post-selection quotes.
Antetokounmpo's not very polished right now. There were better-prepared players on the board when the Knicks took him. But he's decently young, physically impressive, and plainly a delightful human being. I'm more than happy with that kind of player at 51. Odds are he'll end up in Westchester, if that. Maybe overseas. That's cool.
#57: Louis Labeyrie
The Knicks used some part of the $1.8 million they had left over to take this pick off the Pacers' hands and select...I haven't a clue. Labeyrie is 22, tall, skinny, and French. He has few numbers to speak of. He's the kind of player teams usually leave in Europe, possibly forever, although I did hear some people at the draft chattering about how the Knicks might have him come over immediately. I don't know. Here's an opinion from a trustworthy source:
Louis Labeyrie went from a non-shooter in his youth to a true stretch four this season. Had stagnated but took a big step forward in 2014.— DraftExpress2 (@DraftExpress2) June 27, 2014
Here's an interview in French:
Here's a dunk and an awkward flex:
Here's a video of him flail-swatting some people who appear to suck:
I dunno! Maybe we'll get a look at Laberyie this summer. Odds are he'll never be a Knick. Such is the 57th pick.
After dozens of workouts, I'm inclined to trust the scouting department with these late picks and see how things progress. Plenty of undrafted guys-- including Patric Young, who the Knicks supposedly love-- are now free agents. I haven't seen any New York Summer League signings yet, but they'll surely get on that soon, and they may have passed on some guys because they knew they could reel them in as free agents.
The Knicks did some drafting, which I think is great. The got a guy who seems like he might actually contribute at 34, which I think is great. They got some weird, interesting wild cards near the end of the draft, which is a fine thing to do down there. Clyde won't be able to pronounced ANY of these names, which is fantastic.