Ron Baker's flowing locks, pesky defense and aight jump shot endeared the undrafted free agent out of Wichita State to the New York fanbase pretty quickly.
Like, at first, it was more of a joke thing. We were asking ourselves who the hell is this scrawny little undrafted dude?? Why does he play in the NBA?? That was, however, until he actually started playing some good minutes, and people legitimately began to ask for him to play over former MVP Derrick Rose and former lottery pick Brandon Jennings.
Last season was fucking hysterical.
As a reward for his very useful contributions to the Knicks last season, he was given a 2-year, $8.9 million dollar deal to return.
I mean, that may have been just a little much, but...yeah it was probably a little much.
Over the first month and change of the season, Ron saw just 16 total minutes of game action. He played sparingly and that’s probably fine; at that point, the Knicks were actually looking decent with DRose and Jennings handling the duties at the 1.
Ron’s minutes began to kick up in January, with Rose in and out of the lineup. Sure enough, he crossed the 25 minute threshold for the first time in that January 9th loss to the Pels. You may remember that one as “the one where DRose went AWOL.”
He averaged 14 minutes a game in February, then just 9 in March but was regularly playing over 20 minutes per game the rest of the way following Brandon Jennings’ departure. The uptick in minutes did not equal an uptick in production, however.
He finished the season averaging 4.1 PPG, 2.1 APG and just 1.9 RPG. He collected 1.5% of offensive rebounds, 10.8% of defensive ones, and averaged under a block and a steal per game.
He did have some bigger offensive showings down the stretch, but his defense was what let him see so much game time and what really made him a valuable asset to the Knicks.
Here, the Rose went AWOL game, you can see an instance of Ron’s peskiness defensively.
At the 7:40 mark, Baker is switched onto former Knick and fellow undrafted player, Langston Galloway. He immediately reaches down to try to strip the ball from Galloway, winding up with a jump ball instead. Infinitely better than giving up an easy layup or a foul.
If Baker’s role moving forward is to make stops, eat up minutes and score a few points off the bench, he’ll continue to be a valuable member of the team, as he ended up being down the stretch of his rookie season. Still, the contract he was given may be a bit steep for the type of role player he’ll likely continue to be.
Statistically, the best game of his rookie campaign would have to be his 11-point, 8-rebound (all defensive), 8-assist, and 1-steal game against the Raptors in the next to last game of the season, on April 9th.
Fast forward to 1:18...nasty!
His 11 points as a starter is suboptimal but he more than held his own on the defensive end and looked OK running the point. He (hopefully) won’t need to play starter minutes anymore with Frank Ntilikina slated to be the Knicks’ point guard for the (hopefully) forseesble future. Obviously, the Knicks saw enough in this type of performance to offer him a large deal to be a backup option in the backcourt.
Future in New York
Ron’ll be here for next season, at least, so that much is clear. The Knicks curiously gave him a player option, so he could very well leave next summer. Moving forward, he’ll be a combo guard coming off the bench primarily for defence. He’s proven to be plenty capable of doing just that, too.
His season, overall, was pretty good. He had a role and not only did he perform it well, but he showed signs of improvement as the season went on. He became more confident on both ends and showed a willingness to play aggressive defence and solid offence as his minutes expanded.
We all can agree that every good team should have a player that provides what Ron does, and he’s probably going to improve as he gets used to the NBA game. Was he worth the money he agreed to? No. Is it good to have a guy like our Ron Burgundy in the fold? Yeah.
If anything, we’ll have all the Ron humour that was created on this and other websites. They can’t take that away from us, hell nah.