Up until Wednesday, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks did not have a pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Then Jackson unloaded Tyson Chandler‘s horrific contract, got rid of the troubled Raymond Felton and received two second-round picks for Thursday’s draft.
With the 34th pick in the draft the Knicks took Cleanthony Early from Wichita State and got perhaps the steal of the entire draft.
Early is not a kid; he’s 23 years old. He led Wichita State to an unbelievable, undefeated regular season. In the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky, Early went off for 31 points while also posting seven rebounds. He showed the ability to knock down an outside jumper, while showing the ability to blow you away with his athleticism.
The Knicks are going to lose Carmelo Anthony, but the gain of Early could help ease the pain. He will fit in perfectly with the triangle offense as a slasher. He can also guard multiple positions, mostly the three or the two. He is too small to guard NBA power forwards, but can guard the other two positions well. Early will give the Knicks great versatility on offense, and also on defense.
Now that the Knicks have Early, we can begin to see the team that Jackson and new coach Derek Fisher are trying to put together. They want athletic guys that will fit into their system. When we look back on this draft in 15 years, we will think that the Knicks got the steal of the draft when they drafted Early.