The New York Knicks had no draft picks on the day before the draft. After a big trade with the Dallas Mavericks, though, they found themselves with two picks, including the 34th overall selection. With that pick, they selected Cleanthony Early, the talented forward from Wichita State.
Early, a small forward by trade, will be playing one of two potential roles for the Knicks next season. He could end up being a rookie starter at that position, or he could be Carmelo Anthony‘s backup if the superstar chooses to return to the team.
If Anthony does decide to return, it will be great not only to have his services, but he will also be able to play role model for Early, something that could turn into quite an interesting story.
There are actually some similarities between the two players. Anthony was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Early is from Middletown, N.Y. just outside of New York City. These are two guys playing for their hometown team under the bright lights of the Big Apple. Anthony can teach Early how to handle the media, drama and expectations that go along with playing in NYC and help mold a young mind with a lot of potential into an even more intelligent young man.
These two players took different routes to get to where they are now. Anthony was a high school phenom who then averaged a double-double in his only college basketball season, won a national title and then went to the NBA and was picked third overall in 2o03.
Early wasn’t quite as NBA ready as Anthony and played two years of junior college before joining the Shockers. Early, like Anthony, did gain a lot of winning experience in college as his team made it to a Final Four his junior season and had an undefeated regular season during his senior year. This guy knows a little bit about pressure and how to handle it, but Anthony can help him learn even more as the pressure rises on bigger stages. On the court, these two play a similar style of game, as they are both strong forwards with a knack for scoring.
In his lone year at Syracuse, Anthony averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. Early put up similar numbers his senior season with the Shockers, scoring 16.4 points per game while grabbing 5.9 rebounds and shooting 48 percent from the field.
Both stand at 6-foot-8 and were built the same way, showing off similar size and athleticism as they moved into the NBA. Early shot 37 percent from three in his final season, an improvement from his junior campaign, so Anthony can help him continue to develop from out there but also show him some of his mid-range moves. Anthony is great with his back to the basket or facing an opponent. His array of mid-range moves and ability to score in so many different ways is something Early, with his size and skill set, could pick up and eventually hone as skills of his own.
Without Anthony, Early could become an instant starter, which he has the potential to do very well with. If Anthony returns, Early will come off the bench and have the opportunity to grow behind the team’s franchise player and one of the best players at his position in the NBA. With these two together, there would be an excellent opportunity to play alongside each other and maybe one day Anthony will be able to hand the torch over to Early as the star of New York basketball.