The Knicks have a new rookie trio to add to their 2018-19 version. If this threesome has as much promise, the Knicks will be ecstatic.
Thursday night and into Friday morning, the Knicks added the leading scorers from three blue-blood college programs — Duke, Michigan and UCLA.
RJ Barrett, Ignas Brazdeikis and Kris Wilkes, meet Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier.
“They’re not just good basketball players, but they’re fine men,’’ general manager Scott Perry said of the newest Knicks. “These guys embody the way coach [David] Fizdale wants to play the game. We want to defend, represent versatility on the basketball floor and the most important thing we want to become winners.’’
While the Knicks’ chances of making a big score in free agency likely have dipped, president Steve Mills is sticking to his promise of player development. This new batch of kids offers a glimmer of hope, joining the promising Knox, Robinson and Trier.
Barrett, 19, is the Knicks’ new lottery pick, taken at No. 3-overall. The much-heralded Duke star was No. 1 in mock drafts a year ago
Michigan’s Brazdeikis was added in the second round, but only after the Knicks pulled off a draft-night swap, trading up from 55 to 47 for cash considerations to land the Wolverine. Brazdeikis, like Barrett, is a 6-foot-7 lefty with Canadian and European ties.
Scouts are concerned about Brazdeikis’ defense, but he could become a lethal bench scorer after leading Michigan as a freshman (14.8 points per game). He shoots well from 3-point range (39.2 percent) — a Knicks need. A dogged offensive threat, he became the first freshman to lead the Wolverines in scoring since former Knick Trey Burke in 2011-12.
Perry, who used to be an assistant coach at Michigan, called the one-and-done Brazdeikis, “One of the top competitors in this draft.”
“I’m a relentless player,’’ Brazdeikis said Friday. “I don’t fear anyone or anything. I don’t back down from anyone either. I’m very confident in my abilities as well. I go as hard as I can every single game to help the team win. I’m aggressive. I feel like I l know who I am as a basketball player.’’
Friday morning, after Wilkes stunningly fell out of the draft, the Knicks scooped him up, offering a two-way G-League contract.
“Kris is a much better player than many who were drafted,’’ one NBA college scout said. “But his agent clearly didn’t bite on an offer of a two-way in the second round. He thinks he can play his way into a better deal.’’
Wilkes’ situation may turn out similar to that of Trier, who went undrafted last season out of Arizona. Sources told The Post at the time a couple of teams became interested with picks in the 50s, but were urged by his reps to pass. Trier’s camp believed the Knicks would have a two-way G-League offer if he became an undrafted free agent.
“Kind of surprised [Wilkes] didn’t get drafted, similar to Allonzo Trier last year,’’ Perry said. “Winning player, can score, 6-8, highly rated player coming out of high school. Exciting to add him to our mix and see how we can develop him.”
Wilkes, 20, averaged a team-leading 17.4 points at UCLA along with 4.8 rebounds while shooting 43.3 percent from the field last season. Wilkes tested the draft waters in the spring of 2018 and met with Knicks brass. The Knicks thought he could be a first-rounder in that draft, but Wilkes returned to UCLA.
“You never know where their path is going,’’ Mills said. “We were comfortable with who he was as a basketball player but also who he was as a person.’
Teams are allowed a pair of two-way contract players, who are eligible for the main roster for 45 days. The Knicks’ other two-way player for 2019-20 is point guard Kadeem Allen.
The three rookies from last season and the three rookies from this draft will all gather in Las Vegas on July 2 for the first summer-league practice. It might be the only splash the Knicks make.
Knicks called out for ban
The Professional Basketball Writers Association called out the Knicks for banning Daily News writers from Friday’s press conference introducing their 2019 draft picks, RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis, a recent trend against the tabloid.
The decision was called “unprofessional and unacceptable” by PBWA president Josh Robbins in a statement.
“James Dolan, the owner of the Knicks franchise, previously has said that barring Daily News employees from media availabilities sends the Daily News ‘a message,’ ” the statement read. “In reality, the only message he is sending is that he is a bully who retaliates against legitimate news outlets that publish content he dislikes. … We condemn the Knicks’ attempts to hinder journalists’ ability to do their jobs and inform the public.”
— Zach Braziller
All rights and copyright belong to the author:
Source – https://nypost.com/2019/06/22/the-knicks-summer-success-may-hinge-on-familiar-rookie-haul/