The New York Knicks acquired the 34th and 51st picks in the 2014 NBA Draft the day before teams were on the clock. Late in the second round, they added another pick by buying the 57th overall selection from the Indiana Pacers for cash. The $1.8 million man they selected goes by the name of Louis Labeyrie.
That is probably what a lot of Knicks fans said when they heard this guy’s name called. When you search him on the internet, it is not too easy to find a lot of information on the guy. We do know he is a long, tall, goofy and afro-headed power forward from France with what seems to be a lot of potential.
He is 22 years old, stands 6-foot-10, and has three years of pro experience in his native country, playing the last two seasons with Paris-Levallios of Pro A in France. They won a French Cup title in 2012-13 and competed in Eurocup this past season, so he has some experience in important games. As we look into this unknown man, what made Phil Jackson and the Knicks take a chance on this guy?
Labeyrie is developed on defense. He has not seen that many minutes in his two years with Paris-Levallios, but has taken advantage of his time when in the lineup. This year, he played just 13 minutes per game but averaged 1.7 blocks, one steal and 11.4 rebounds per 40 minutes according to Draft Express. It is clear that defense is his strength so far, but with limited minutes and a 200 pound frame, Labeyrie still has a lot of room to get bigger and in NBA shape.
One common theme about Labeyrie is that he brings a high motor. He is active and a good team defender, but also likes to run the fast break. His offensive game, which isn’t quite as developed as it is on the defensive end, consists mostly of hustle points and dunks. He attempted less than four shots per game last season, but shot 63 percent from the field. He has also improved his marksmanship from beyond the arc, taking one three per game last season, resulting in a 56 percent mark.
We have not had the chance to see much of Labeyrie here in the United States. It is hard to tell what Jackson saw in this guy when picking him as outsiders looking in, but we will have to trust the Zenmaster on this one. Labeyrie has some developed skills, but needs to get bigger and develop more offensive skills. Since he was the 57th pick, this is a low risk move that could end up paying huge dividends for the future or not pan out at all.
The next question that remains unanswered is, when will we see this guy in Madison Square Garden?