By David J. Cohen
The NBA draft has hit the 2 hour mark. So far the proceedings have been chaotic, with everyone trading picks all over the place. Portland makes a trade every 20 minutes. Villanova G Randy Foye has already been on 3 NBA teams. Shane Battier is a Rocket. And somehow UConn PG Marcus Williams is still on the board. The Kings take Quincy Douby, and as the next coming of Jason Kidd lies in wait with his momma the New York Knicks are on the clock.It should be a lock. The best player in the draft (in my opinion) is sitting there for the Knicks. They have to take him, since the reality of the situation is that the Knicks don’t really have a point guard. Technically they have 4 of them, but if you look closely they really don’t have any:
- Stephon “no longer a starbury” Marbury – His mentality is to shoot, shoot, and as far as coaching is concerned, don’t give a hoot (a few more lines like this and I’m the next Dr. Seuss). Is clearly not a team player and only wants to benefit himself. Thinks he’s a superstar; is as close to being one as the Knicks are of winning a title. Sounds more like a selfish 2 than a man at the point.
- Nate “pit bull” Robinson – Good, aggressive young player, but again, is primarily looking to score rather than to set up the rest of his team.
- Jamal Crawford – Actually the best of the 4 because he doesn’t mind deferring the ball at times and has the feeling of when to pass and when to take it late in games. Still is a natural 2 guard. If he only had more confidence in himself and some teammates he could be a solid NBA player.
- Steve “killer of the franchise” Francis – He is a canker sore to any team he infects with his presence. Is a sorry excuse of talent. A whole team of Steve Francis clones would make the Atlanta Hawks look like the Showtime Lakers. To put it kindly, my solid waste out-hustles Steve Francis.
Thus, looking at this situation and the fact that a point guard of the caliber of Marcus Williams has fallen into the lap of Isiah Thomas (or IT as he is known in New York) it would seem like an easy pick. Then the Knicks show why it is worth watching the draft just for their picks every year.
“With the twentieth pick in the two-thousand and six NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Renaldo Balkman.”
I nearly died laughing. Even David Stern had to pause for a split-second before reading the name off the card. The Knicks had an uncharacteristic draft last year when they picked well in F Channing Frye and F David Lee (Robinson was received through trade) but it’s nice to see the Knicks return to form. To give you a greater perspective of how the Knicks utilize the draft, here are some previous selections:
2003 – Mike Sweetney, Georgetown – solid player, traded away in Eddy Curry deal
2003 – Maciej Lampe, Poland – exactly
2002 – Nene, Brazil – good, traded immediately to Denver
2001 – Eric Chenowith, Kansas – anyone who ever watched him knew he didn’t belong in the NBA; one of my favorite Knick picks
2000 – Lavor Postell, St. Johns – 4 picks later some guy named Michael Redd was taken
1999 – Fredric Weis, France – knew what he was getting into and stayed in France; in the next 10 selections: Ron Artest, James Posey, Jeff Foster, Kenny Thomas, Devean George, Andrei Kirilenko
1997 – John Thomas, Minnesota – was working in an office a few months ago before the Nets called him
1996 – John Wallace, Syracuse; Walter McCarty, Kentucky; Dontae’ Jones, Mississippi State
All three were first round selections at 18, 19, and 21. The 20th pick in that draft: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
What made it worse for the Knicks passing up on Williams was the fact that they took a PG with their 2nd pick in Temple G Mardy Collins, meaning they knew they needed a PG. It is decisions like these that make you understand how the Knicks reached their pitiful present state.
The Knicks had a chance to get a great player for years to come. Instead, they continued their circus act of an NBA team. They turned the draft into the Balkman and Bailey circus.
But you never know. David Lee was a 2nd round pick taken by the Knicks in the 1st, and he didn’t do so bad. And Balkman is a hustler on the court, pestering players and getting rebounds. He also gets those clean up baskets. I fell in love with the kid’s game when I witnessed him beating the Florida Gators from the 2nd row in Gainesville. And his rose in the NIT in Madison Square Garden, leading South Carolina to its 2nd straight NIT championship. This means Balkman knows what success at the garden feels like. Maybe he can tell Isiah about it.
As a fan, I hope Balkman comes in and makes an impact. But for now, the Balkman and Bailey circus has begun, and you can get in on all the action. Season tickets are now on sale at www.knicks.com. Let the fun begin.