By Neil Beldock – 1/19/17
Patience, patience, patience…..Help is on the way!!!!
From the carnage of what this season has been, and the playoffs ARE still a possibility, the more important aspect which I see is that the Knicks actually have some good young pieces they are assembling; but the benefits won’t necessarily be felt immediately.
Phil Jackson and his regime have received their share of criticism, and perhaps it is well deserved. I was certainly hoping for better when he became the team president and so far we haven’t had much to get excited about. Plenty to shout about! But not much to get excited about from a results-oriented standpoint.
But credit is due where credit is due. And from my perspective what can be seen is some good young pieces being assembled which, if they develop and some other pieces, the right pieces can be added, before long we may be looking at a very good team who’s style of play can be very San Antonio Spurs-like; Not the worst thing in the world.
Lets take a look at and discuss these pieces:
Mindaugas Kuzminskas: Not the youngest of the group at 27, but certainly a guy who can be entering his prime and be around for a while. We can see his game emerging as he gets more playing time. Here’s what I see when I watch him play; To me, within the context of today’s game, he looks like a modern day Bill Bradley (for those of you old enough to remember Bradley’s game). He’s a very good shooter, moves extremely well without the ball (a lost art in today’s game) and seems to be a heady player, a smart player who competes hard. Sound Bradley like? Does to me. He is however, much more athletic than Bradley was, and at 6′ 9″ provides more length. I can see him as a starter and solid contributor for many years to come. I think he will get better and better with time. A very good piece to have.
Willy Hernangomez (21 years old): I’m going to be very subtle in talking about Hernangomez………I LOVE HIS GAME!!!! The only thing I love more than his game is his upside. From my perspective, this is a perennial All-Star by the age of 24 or 25. He is remember, just 21 years old. He has everything you want to see in a front court player; He has size at 6’11”, he is skilled, he moves extremely well for his size, he is ambidextrous and shoots very well around the basket with both hands. He has even shown a nice touch from the outside as well. He will be an exceptionally good passer eventually; a little sloppy at times now but I’m confident that can and will clean itself up. He plays hard and I believe will grow into a solid defender. He already is a solid rebounder. I love the comparisons to Marc Gasol. What the Knicks have in Hernangomez is their starting center for the next 12-15 years. A very good piece to have.
Ron Baker (23 years old): I’m not quite sure what his role will eventually be, whether a starter or more likely, a guy off the bench. But you have to like what you see from him. Toughness, plays hard, solid fundamentals. He has shown a decent shooting touch and does a ton of little stuff on the court. If you haven’t noticed, watch how he screens off the ball and directs play. He’s a guy who can play some point, play the 2-guard, and even play small forward if the team goes small. One thing for sure; Wherever he plays, he plays hard! Once again, a good young piece to have in the mix who, from my perspective, will just get better.
Justin Holiday (27 years old): I don’t know about you, but I like what I see from Holiday. Prototypical wing player of today’s game. Long, lean, can shoot and defend. And just like the others above, he plays hard. He can be a bit erratic at times, but again, with playing time and maturity, I believe he will be less erratic, though always streaky. At 27, much like Kuzminskas, not young but ready to move into his prime. I can see him as a starting 2-guard or, perhaps more appropriately analogized, a 6th-man in the mold of a Jamal Crawford. To me, a keeper and yet another solid piece to move forward with.
Marshall Plumlee (24 years old): All you can say about this guy is he plays his ass off every chance he gets and, if he commits 3,4,5 or 6 fouls, those who he fouls are going to know they were fouled! Perfect back-up center. A smart player with excellent basketball pedigree. Once again, a good young piece to have.
And then there is Porzingis who’s potential we are all already aware of…..I am going to post an article shortly discussing his game and what it will take for him to go from very good to great.
So yes, in many ways the Phil Jackson era has been disappointing. But, at least from my perspective, some good young pieces are being assembled, pieces which look to be team oriented guys, skilled guys, guys who play hard every night and guys with upside.
What will it take for this group to form the core of a potentially very good team?