Inside Ziaire Williams’ workout with Knicks: ‘World Wide Wes — that’s my guy’

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Ziaire Williams had a rough one-and-done season at Stanford, but he was impressive during his workouts. Will the New York Knicks reach for his high upside?

Ziaire Williams had a roller-coaster ride to the NBA doorstep.

Two years ago, he was on top of the world playing with Bronny James and Zaire Wade and high-fiving LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

“Oohhhh Man! I feel like that prepared me so much,” Williams said on Tuesday during his NBA Draft media availability. “The travel alone – we traveled like 30,000 miles that season. It was a really fun experience.”

“I had to meet great teammates who I call brothers now. I got super close to Dwyane Wade and LeBron. They were just super helpful to me in learning about basketball stuff. It was really just a blessing to be a part of that.”

He was clutch, and he was a leader. He was the best player in a stacked, celebrated Sierra Canyon team. 

Then came the rough part of the ride. He was in and out of the Stanford lineup during his lone college year due to medical and personal reasons. He showed glimpses of his potential averaging 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, with a 37/29/79 shooting split which leaves a lot to be desired.

The talent and potential are there. Like when he posted the second triple-double in program history with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists against Washington last January. But the inconsistency he showed in his one-and-done season has brought a lot of question marks causing him to drop in some NBA Draft Boards.

Projected to go in the mid to the latter part of the first round, Williams worked out with 10 NBA teams hoping to erase those doubts and buy into his potential as a big 3-and-D wing. That includes a two-player workout with the Knicks who are eyeing wings and shooting in this draft.

“It was a great workout and it was intense. It was just me and another player I have little contact with. I love it there. World Wide Wes – that’s my guy, man! He’s a character,” Williams said.

World Wide Wes is, of course, the Knicks executive vice president William Wesley, the animated Leon Rose’s right-hand man. He embodies the Knicks’ burning desire to move up in the NBA’s upper echelon and has a big voice in the front office.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Tom Thibodeau, the team’s head coach, usually reserved with measured words and moves who served as the rock of a young Knicks team that went on a surprising playoff run last season.

“I met coach Thibodeau, all the guys. [They have] super great staff. You can tell it’s genuine and they’re passionate about their jobs. So, I would love to go to the Knicks for sure,” Williams said.

Then he quickly added before everything got out of context: “I would love to go to any team. I don’t have favorites. I just want to go to a team that’s the right spot for me, a team that believes in me and that’s gonna help me become the player that I could become.”

Williams spent time watching the Knicks last season, especially in the playoffs, where he saw the glaring hole he hopes he could fill if they select him on Thursday.

“I know they could use a wing who can shoot and is versatile like me. They’re very scrappy and gritty, who’s gonna defend before anything – that’s a big thing that Thibodeau preaches,” Williams said. “It all starts with hunger. So [what I can bring is] just playing hard and work ahead of the man in front of you. [Help in] executing the plays down the stretch, listening to the game plan, and executing as a team.”

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has the Knicks picking up Williams with the 21st pick if they don’t move up in the draft. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic slots him to go to Oklahoma City at no. 18. Jonathan Givony of ESPN projects Williams to go to Atlanta with the 20th pick but noted that he had gained traction following solid workouts “that showed there’s more to his game than scouts saw in his disrupted season at Stanford.”

Williams prides himself on being a student of the game that may bode well in his NBA career. LeBron James was his first memory of NBA basketball, and it was a dream come true for him to get close to him. He also loved Tracy McGrady and Penny Hardaway. He marveled at Kobe Bryant’s competitive fire and looked up to Kevin Durant’s elevation as a future all-time great despite having a reed-thin body similar to his frame.

When asked if he has a list of players he’s excited to face in the NBA, his revealing answer provided a window to his mindset and approach to the game that makes you think the Stanford saga was just a blip to his promising basketball career.

“I want to play them all. I want to see for myself what makes them so good,” Williams said. “And then I’m going to back to the film and try to take the little details of the moves they used on me. That’s my thing.”

Growing up in a family with a strong military background, Williams learned at a young age how to stay disciplined and game plan to accomplish whatever mission he has set for himself.

“I know my first year, I’m really just going and gonna learn as much as possible whether that’s from my team or players from other teams. I really just gonna set the standard to follow a routine that I really want to set for myself for the first couple of years so that the rest should be easier and to have a long career,” Williams said.

Some prospects are fixated on how to impress teams during workouts and meetings. But while that’s also a priority for Williams, he made sure the learnings during the whole predraft process won’t get swept under the rug.

“A lot of things have popped up like when I was in Oklahoma City, the coach over there, we were talking about all the analytics and how I love to go to midrange. He was just telling me how the game has transformed. He’s telling me it’s better to be open-minded,” said Williams who took that advice to heart.

“He brought up the analogy of the Kodak camera. They didn’t do anything to improve so they’re now out of business and all the Twitter, Instagram stuff has taken over. So he was telling me the same way that if you’re not open-minded to changing and try different ways to get to the rim, that will kind of make your game obsolete based on the analytics so to speak.

“I can be just like Kodak, out of business one day. That was really helpful,” he added. “So, I just go in and learn and find ways how to get into the paint or maybe instead of the contested two-pointer, maybe stepback and create for 3. That’s just an example of something that I have learned throughout this pre-draft process.”

Williams has the right mindset. Now, it’s time for him to get his body right. At 188.4 lbs, he’s too skinny for his size. That’s one of the knocks on his game at Stanford, where he shied away from contact and couldn’t handle physicality well. Much of his upside is tied with his projection to become a long, athletic defender who can guard multiple positions.

But he’s just 19. His body will mature, and the hope is his game will follow.

Based on how Williams sounded in interviews, he says all the right things.

“Personality-wise, I’m energetic, super respectful, and a caring person. I’m all for the team. I play the game, not for myself but to win. I hate to lose,” Williams said.

His answer to the one question that always pops up during his interview with the teams makes him a safe bet in the mid-teens of the first round.

“They asked me what goals do I have, and I answered I want to be an NBA champion, first and foremost. Because I love winning. I’m more about sacrificing for the team than anything,” Williams said.

Spoken like a star role player in a contending team.

His roller-coaster ride brought him highs and lows, but the learnings along the way weren’t lost on him. It’s a solid foundation to have as he begins his NBA journey.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: 3 keys to beating the LA Lakers in big West Coast finale

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The New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the LA Lakers in their West Coast finale after taking down the Clippers on Sunday evening. Despite being shorthanded, missing Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks, the Knicks walked away with a victory against one of the best teams in the NBA. Composed of star players like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers did not anticipate an aggressive Knicks defense that left it all on the floor.

However, the Lakers are expected to gain LeBron James back on Tuesday evening after dealing with a high ankle sprain the past few weeks.

Three keys for the Knicks to beat the LA Lakers:

1.) Limit LeBron James

Anytime LeBron James is on the floor, you have to be worried. This season, despite having played in just 43 games, he’s averaging 25 points, 7.8 assists, and 7.9 rebounds.

The Knicks know the 36-year-old perennial All-NBA star is borderline unstoppable when healthy. I imagine he will be on a minute limit, so New York must take advantage when he’s off the floor. The Lakers have struggled without him recently, but handling James and Anthony Davis will be no easy feat.

2.) Play suffocating defense

As we know, the Knicks have the number one ranked defense in the NBA, allowing 105 points per game. The Lakers also have a suffocating defense, ranked second, allowing 106.6 points. It will be a battle of the defenses, but the Knicks have the capability to blow a game open with solid three-point shooting.

In their last contest against the Clippers, they held the best three-point shooting team in the NBA to just 34.3% from downtown. The Knicks connected on 40.6% and have been shooting well from three-point since after the All-Star break.

A victory over the Lakers would give the Knicks a ton of confidence as they finish off the season with a homestretch against the Spurs, Hornets, and Celtics.

3.) Julius Randle must hit his shots when off double-team

Against the Clippers, head coach Tom Thibodeau indicated that Julius Randle played a significant part in the victory, commanding double teams which hurt his point production. He only posted 14 points, but his ability to draw attention from the opposing defense helped open up shots for his teammates. He hit a few clutch shots down the stretch, which closed out the game for the Knicks and solidified the win. Teams are quickly figuring out that stopping Randle is their best bet at beating New York, but they proved that they can win without him posting 20+ points per game.

Hopefully, both Quickley and Burks will be available against the Lakers, giving the Knicks a bit more firepower on offense.

Knicks have even bigger challenge ahead with LeBron James injury update

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The New York Knicks are coming off a phenomenal victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, but their streak of tough opponents does not end there. New York is gearing up to take on the Lakers on Tuesday evening, a team that is fighting to stay within automatic playoff contention. Currently, they’re in the 7th seed, which lies in the play-in category, just one game out of the 6th behind the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers are looking to extract a win over New York to help their playoff chances, but the Knicks won’t go silently into the night. However, LA is preparing to welcome LeBron James back, the consensus best player in the NBA and one of the best players to ever live. His presence alone will command attention from a tough Tom Thibodeau team that relies on aggressive defense to get the job done.

They most recently overcame a Clippers team composed of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, and DeMarcus Cousins. Considering they are the 3rd seed in a competitive Western Conference, the Knicks should have a slight advantage over the Lakers, even if James is on the floor.

Lakers star big man Anthony Davis was quite confident that LeBron would make a return against the Knicks, instilling confidence in the media that he has done this before.

“What I seen from LeBron today, he’ll be fine,” Anthony Davis said. “Trust me. He’ll be fine. He’s been in this league long enough to be able to come back and lock in and do what he gotta do to help the team.”

LeBron’s coach was equally as confident, enamored by his professionalism and ability to prepare his body for a full workload.

“He looks good in his workouts,” Frank Vogel said. “Obviously, there’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period with him, in terms of him getting his rhythm and timing back. Hopefully, we have enough time for that to pick up very quickly. I’ve tended to learn to have confidence in LeBron James in situations like that.”

Vogel will have to limit LeBron’s minutes, but they desperately need his presence to help them snag the 6th seed, so defeating the Knicks is a priority.
Hopefully, both Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks will be back and ready to contribute, despite New York proving they can win without two of their prolific scorers.

Lebron James makes awesome Knicks comments via social media

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A state of Nirvana is defined as a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, basically when the New York Knicks are winning. Everything seems to be going right in the world, as COVID-19 backs off and vaccines are plentiful, the Knicks are right in stride with the positive developments. Of course, this is just a silly joke, but the fact that the Knicks are playing way above expectations is not.

Currently, on an eight-game winning streak, the Knicks hold the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, with just .5 games on the Atlanta Hawks and one game over the Boston Celtics. There’s a reason to believe they could even give the Milwaukee Bucks a run for their money, but they would need to win a majority of the next 12 regular season games until the playoffs commence.

Over their last eight games, Julius Randle has been an absolute menace, scoring 40 points against Atlanta in the victory on Wednesday evening, shooting 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, and hitting 12-of-13 free throws. He also picked up 11 rebounds and six assists in the contest.

While Confucius says the Knicks are a product of their own strong will and mentality, LeBron James would attest that all is right in the world when they are playing well.

As the biggest market, New York flourishes with fandom and monetary growth when their teams are succeeding, and this recent run by the Knicks has not only fueled a new generation of fans in the NBA but is also dragged back a few bandwagoners along the way.

If you are so inclined, you should read about how LeBron James influenced Cleveland on a business level, drawing people to the bars and allowing them to spend their money on local businesses. The economic effects he had on that city were profound. The Knicks have a similar effect, as fans will take to the bars and restaurants to watch their favorite teams play, helping restore a balance in a city that has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hopefully, this isn’t a short-lived run of success, as the Knicks can seriously compete during the playoffs and, by the grace is of the basketball gods, win a series to justify their place as one of the top teams in the NBA.

New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton and his unorthodox shot at NBA glory

The New York Knicks have been looking for a lead guard for so long. They might find him in this year’s point guard-heavy NBA Draft.

He may not have the size and the athleticism of Magic Johnson and LeBron James but Tyrese Haliburton has their combination of vision, high basketball IQ, charisma, and leadership qualities.

Haliburton has closely watched both guys growing up with Johnson belonging to his father’s generation and James from his generation.

“I watched a lot of old, throwback basketball like the 80s and 90s stuff growing up because my dad is an old head. For me, Magic Johnson has always been my guy,” Haliburton said during his Draft Combine interview.

“His passion and spirit on the court but his vision and his impact on winning, I don’t think people really understand how much of a winner Magic Johnson really is. That probably is my inspiration.”

Magic Johnson has won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 80s. James, on the other hand, is fresh from winning his fourth title also with the Lakers, his third team.

There was a time when the 6’9” Johnson played center in the NBA. And James too as a 6’8” point forward. Haliburton grew up like them in Wisconsin alongside recent NBA Bubble breakout star Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat.

Haliburton was the tallest kid during his fifth grade that he was pigeonholed as a center.

“I hated being a big man,” Haliburton recalled.

A young Haliburton reached his breaking point during one of their team practices. He grabbed a rebound and began to run the ball up the court, directing play.

“I told coach, ‘I can play the point, let me play the point’,” Haliburton said.

And he made his point with conviction, playing as the tallest point guard. He’s played that position ever since except for his freshman year in college.

Haliburton and Herro went separate ways in high school and carved their own basketball path.

Haliburton went to Oshkosh North High School and developed into the best point guard in Wisconsin. Herro blossomed into a big-time scorer at Whitnall High School.

Haliburton said he’s gotten a lot of insights from Herro since he declared for the NBA Draft.

As a high school senior, Haliburton led Oshkosh North High School to a 26-1 record averaging 22.9 points, 6.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 1.7 blocks. He capped off his phenomenal senior year with a 31-point effort, including 24 in the second half and a perfect 18-of-18 trip at the line, to win the Division I state championship. He was named Wisconsin Player of the Year.

Despite his high school accolades, he was only rated as a four-star recruit. But Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm saw something else in Haliburton.

“He’s been a rock star here since Day One. I think that attracted us and that made him a priority in our recruiting process,” Iowa head coach Steve Prohm told Empire Sports Media.

Prohm’s program at Iowa has produced the likes of Georges Niang, Monte Morris, and Talen Horton-Tucker in the NBA. He has zeroed in on high-character guys and great personalities.

“When we talked to him on the phone, sat with him in their living room, and watched him play, he checked all those boxes,” Prohm recalling his recruitment of Haliburton.

Two years later, Haliburton has emerged as the potential first lottery pick from ISU’s basketball program under Prohm’s watch.

In just a short time with the Cyclones, Haliburton has been to the NCAA tournament, won a Big 12 tournament, and a gold medal with Team USA U19 with a performance that catapulted him into one of the best prospects in this year’s NBA Draft.

Behind his competitive spirit on the hardcourt, Haliburton has that infectious smile and the charisma of a Magic Johnson.

He’s just got an unbelievable spirit and phenomenal personality. And I always joked with him that when he’s done playing, he’ll be the governor of Wisconsin,” Prohm said. “He can walk into any room and can have an amazing presence.”

Like Johnson, Haliburton has only played two years in college before declaring for the NBA. But unlike the former Laker legend, Haliburton isn’t the consensus top overall pick. He’s not even the most highly-touted point guard in the Draft. That label belongs to LaMelo Ball.

And Haliburton’s case as the second-best point guard in the Draft has met a strong resistance from Frenchman Killian Hayes.

But Haliburton has the supreme belief that he’s the best facilitator out of the group, something that he molded himself after the playing styles of Johnson and later on James.

“LaMelo is scoring the ball at three levels. I think I’m the best facilitator out of the group and I think Killian defends at a high level,” Haliburton said of their different strengths.

It’s not hard to see why Prohm can see a vision of Haliburton being a Wisconsin governor someday. Just by listening to Haliburton eloquently answering each media question, showing grace under pressure, is just half of the equation.

He says all the right things. But he’s also done things the right way.

The other half of Haliburton’s brilliance can be seen in the body of work he’s done on the court.

Bleacher Report’s Draft analyst Jonathan Wasserman has indicated in a recent appearance on KnicksFan TV that Haliburton had A+ interviews with teams. Haliburton has gone on record that he has talked to three teams so far — New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Detroit Pistons.

And if the Knicks would have Hayes and Haliburton available for the eighth pick, Wasserman believes they would choose the Iowa standout.

But it seems that the Knicks’ interest in Haliburton is not as strong as the other prospects such as two-way wingman Isaac Okoro whom the they have “inquisitively scouted and liked from the jump” according to Ian Begley of SNY.

Prohm said he’s never met with the Knicks yet and admitted that his communication with them was just confined to text messages.

“I have not talked to the Knicks personally. Just a little bit of texts with one of the guys that’s new over there. But that doesn’t mean that my staff has not talked to them. I don’t ask them all the teams they talk to,” Prohm told Empire Sports Media.

Regardless of how the Knicks view him, Haliburton sees his potential fit in New York.

“I like the Knicks roster and I think they are an up-and-coming team,” he said. “Obviously, they have a lot of guys that can play the point guard spot in Elfrid [Payton] and Dennis [Smith Jr.] and Frank [Ntilikina] but I’m prepared to do whatever I have to do, so if it was the Knicks I’m prepared to do whatever is asked of me. If that’s play the one, or slide to the two or come off the bench or start, it doesn’t really matter. I’m ready.”

Haliburton’s Draft projections have been all over the place. The uncertainty of this Draft presents a strong case for Haliburton to be one of the sure things.

Aside from his phenomenal vision and high-efficiency play on the court, Haliburton brings flexibility at the backcourt.

When he arrived in Iowa, Haliburton was pegged to become the backup point guard behind senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb. But an injury to their starting shooting guard Lindell Wigginton had prompted Prohm to slot him in the starting unit right away next to Weiler-Babb.

But even playing outside his natural position didn’t stop Haliburton from making an impact on the team.

“As a freshman, the goal was to put them in a position to have immediate success and gain confidence. We had a senior guard (Weiler-Babb) who was phenomenal at the position. With the way we play, and what we always emphasize — spacing and ball movement, Tyrese was still able to be the second in assist to turnover ratio as a freshman and he almost led our team in assists as a freshman,” Prohm said.

Haliburton started in 34 out of 35 games as a freshman and averaged 6.8 points, 3.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and almost a block per game while shooting over 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from the three-point region. He ranked third in the nation in offensive rating (136.8) and his 4.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was the second-best in the nation and led the Big 12 Conference.

He also broke the 44-year school record with most assists in a single game when he dished out 17 against a lone turnover in a blowout win against Southern.

“He’s such a willing passer and a giver that he’s so good in the pick and roll and his vision is phenomenal. He’s a high-assist, low-turnover guy and off the floor, he’s all about the right things. You talk about character and what’s the right thing for the team,” Prohm said.

On the defensive end, Haliburton joined last year’s top overall pick Zion Williamson (Duke) as the only true freshmen nationally with 50 steals and 30 blocks.

“That’s why Tyrese is good at understanding scouting reports. He has great anticipation and a great feel. He’s really good away from the ball. He really understands how to trap, double the post, understand rotation,” Prohm said of Haliburton, who has been watching and breaking down game films since his middle school.

His stint with Team USA in the summer before his sophomore year has shot up his confidence even more. He returned to Iowa in high spirits ready to embrace a bigger role in Prohm’s system.

 

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slept on myself for a minute, I’m up now. #lostfiles

A post shared by Tyrese Haliburton (@tyresehaliburton) on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:25pm PDT

In a clean seven-game sweep, Haliburton averaged 7.9 points, 6.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals in 25 minutes per game in the 2019 U19 FIBA World Cup. He also shot 56 percent of his three-pointers on his way to being named to the tournament’s All-Star Five.

Haliburton showed elite playmaking next to elite talents in a team that boasts of tournament MVP Reggie Perry, next year’s potential top picks Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and fellow Draft prospect Kira Lewis, Jr.

His phenomenal play in the world championships turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

“Obviously, we lost a lot of those guys from his freshman year that he moved into the primary point guard responsibility and he flourished with that. But the other thing he did a great job is he’s really shown people that he can score as well,” Prohm said.

Haliburton had a breakout season in his sophomore year that led to his decision to declare for the NBA Draft.

When the college season was cut short by pandemic, Haliburton was sixth in the Big 12 in scoring (15.2), second in FG percentage (50.4), first in assists (6.5), first in steals (2.5), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), third in 3FG percentage (41.9) and 13th in rebounding (5.9).

He has destroyed all Big 12 point guards this season including Lewis, Jr. of Alabama. In their matchup in the Bahamas late last year, Haliburton has outplayed his Alabama counterpart leading the Cyclones to a 104-89 rout.

Haliburton almost had a triple-double finishing with a game-high 23 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. He also shot 4-of-7 three-pointers.

In contrast, Lewis, Jr. struggled with 3-13 field goal shooting and was limited to just eight points, four boards, and five dimes. He also went 0-of-4 from three.

Haliburton though hasn’t seen action since February due to a wrist injury but if there’s something positive that came out of it is that he showed what he’s really made of.

After injuring his wrist late in the first half, Haliburton had his Mamba moment. He still started the second half and played through the pain. Playing essentially with one hand, he helped the Cyclones build a 49-35 lead before sitting out the last 16 minutes of the game. His teammates held on to the victory, 73-63.

He was later on diagnosed with a left wrist fracture that prematurely ended his final year with the Cyclones.

“When he got injured, one thing he showed us is he’s all about the right things. His parents still traveled to the games. They still came to the home games. He still followed the scouting reports. He still communicated from the bench. He’s waving the towel. He’s talked to his teammates. And he was all-in to the very end,” Prohm said.

“He was crushed because he doesn’t want to leave this place but he needed to go pro. It was his time and he’s more than ready.”

Analytics guys would fall in love with Haliburton’s high-efficiency play. But his lean frame and unorthodox shot have made him a polarizing Draft prospect.

Aware of those knocks on his game, Haliburton has locked up in Wisconsin in preparation for the Draft training with his former AAU coach Bryan Johnikin. He said he worked three times per day doing lifts in the morning and spending the rest of the day on the basketball court working on his shot, primarily off-the-bounce and his on-ball defense.

From 168-lb, Haliburton has checked in at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas recently with 18 lbs additional muscle — a product of his six days a week lifting in the weight rooms for two months.

And what about his shot?

Haliburton and the people around him have the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality.

“I think it’s so overblown the stuff about my (shooting) mechanics because I don’t think film or numbers lie,” Haliburton said.

“I think I shot the ball really well both years. If people watched, they know the range is not a problem for me. If that’s what people want to talk about, go ahead. But we can revisit that question in a couple of years and see what people will say,” he added.

Prohm didn’t even try to tweak it. And why would he do that if Haliburton’s shooting is off the charts?
“I didn’t [tweak it]. He shot over 40 percent from threes for two years in a row. It’s gone in ever since I’ve seen him play. He’s got great range and size. I didn’t really want to change his shot. In the next level, they may, they may not,” Prohm said. “If you’re shooting over 40 as the top guy in the scouting report, that’s pretty good.”
NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops and his Director of Scouting Derek Murray have watched tons and tons of film on Haliburton throughout the year.
Murray also saw Haliburton multiple times during the Big12 play.
“While his shot is funky, it goes in, and goes in often. Everywhere he goes — he is the one of the best shooters in the gym, so I don’t see a need to change the shot at this point. It works’,” Murray told Empire Sports Media.
In Murray’s book, Haliburton is “easily a top-5 point guard.”
“I like him in the back of the top-10, certainly a lottery guy,” Murray added.
Haliburton’s shot at NBA stardom won’t necessarily hinge on his shot. To him, it’s only aesthetics that doesn’t need a quick fix. What he’s been working on is how to be more effective shooting off the bounce.
Haliburton has gotten better and more comfortable shooting off the dribble in Las Vegas as noted by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
Haliburton already has the offensive gifts and uncanny vision to run a team or even slide to become a combo guard. But Prohm believes that if Haliburton can unlock his potential on the defensive end, then the sky’s the limit.
“One thing that he needs to get better at, he knows this, and teams I’m sure know this is just guarding one on one. He’s gonna have to continue to grow and get better at that but I think he’ll do that with his length and size, his ability to be coached, and as he matures,” Prohm said.
He may not be as fanciful as Ball, or as strong as Hayes, but Haliburton impacts winning in the most efficient way whether at the point or as a two-guard.

“I’m a basketball player. Whatever you need from me I’ll do. If you want me to play the PG, I’ll do that. I think I facilitate better than anybody in this draft. I think I can run a team right away, but if you want me to play the two and knock down shots and defend, I think can do that as well. So whatever’s really asked of me, I’ll do,” Haliburton said.

Haliburton has all the makings of not just a great point guard, but also as a great ambassador of the league. Prohm sounded like a broken record with all the right buzz words but Haliburton has shown he can walk the talk.

“He’s got great temperament, maturity, and humility to fit in any role. He understands what’s needed from him. He’s gonna buy-in and do what’s best for that team,” Prohm said.

“He’s never too high and never too low and he understands the work ethic that it takes to be successful.”

Haliburton, in some ways, is being viewed by skeptics just like how he believes people view Magic Johnson and his underrated impact on winning.

Some people also really don’t understand how much of a winner Haliburton is.

LeBron James will never be on the New York Knicks

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There are some New York Knicks rumors and chatter out there that just doesn’t need to happen.  LeBron James coming to New York is one of them.

The New York Post’s Marc Berman thinks there’s a possibility of him playing for the Knicks.  ‘I will never rule this one out — especially for his last season before retiring’ Berman says.

Well one thing is for certain, I’m here to say that will never happen.  LeBron James will never play for the Knicks.

Yes, James said he loves playing in the Garden but who doesn’t.  Michael Jordan said the Garden was his favorite place to play too. But he he come play for the Knicks?  Um, no. He wanted to win.

Why would James leave a winning team for one of the worst in the league?  Yes, he did it with the Cavaliers on the second go around but that was his hometown.  New York isn’t and the Knicks are constantly losing.  Not a chance.

Players these days don’t care about the rich history of the Knicks.  They want to win and win now.  The Knicks aren’t winning. Other superstars or even above average players aren’t coming to the Knicks.  Why do people think the games best player will come to a, currently, dysfunctional franchise?  Makes no sense.

Everyone is talking about James being able to play with his son, Bronny Jr.  But, there’s no guarantee that his son will even be on the Knicks. This whole conversation is just ridiculous.

Just by writing this people will think this is click bait.  But other major publications, The New York Post, are covering it so why not.  But in reality, LeBron James is never playing for the New York Knicks.

How can we keep the Yankees off the IL?

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Since the very beginning of spring training for the New York Yankees we already started to wonder, does the “ next man up “ mantra continue into 2020? 

Right now it feels like déjà vu, with 5 players already out with injuries, including big name players like Right Fielder Aaron Judge, starter Luis Severino (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) and former NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton.  

The injury bug hit the Yankees hard last year sending 37 players to the IL in 30 IL stints. Still the Yankees were able to overcome all the injuries and finished with over 100 wins last season.  

Following the record breaking number of injured players last year, the Yankees fired their strength and conditioning staff. Now a days players seem to be getting hurt a lot more often. The days of high consecutive games played seems to be in the past. 

So how could we keep these players on the field and off the IL ?

We know our players love to hit the gym and lift weights to stay in shape, but what about yoga? I know yoga might be the last thing you would think players with big frames like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton should be doing. But really the question should be why not yoga? 

Will we see Yankees on the Yoga mat?

Yoga works on your core, agility, endurance, strength and most importantly flexibility, which helps prevent injuries. 

For years professional athletes and teams have been using yoga to improve their game and prevent injuries. Big name players in the NFL and NBA like Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and even New York Jets Quarterback Sam Darnold.

I think the Yankees can really benefit from this and maybe should add this into their routine. 

Opening day was set to start a week from today, but has now been pushed back to a date that has not been determined yet. With there being a delayed start to the season, maybe we will see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton Opening Day after all. And maybe they can all use this extra time to work on some yoga. 

Hopefully baseball will be back soon. And I’m hoping you all stay safe. 

New York Knicks primary target for 2020 free agency

Could the New York Knicks pursue Anthony Davis next offseason?

While it’s certainly a bit early to consider free agency next season, it’s always fun to contemplate who could be available for the New York Knicks, especially after missing out on both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The top players on the market next year will be Anthony Davis, Mike Conley, and Draymond Green. The Knicks could go after one, if not several of these players, but convincing them that Madison Square Garden is more appealing than the Barclay’s center will be the tall task at hand.

The youth evolving for the Knicks is the key to luring superstars to the franchise. Players like RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and more hold the keys to being a successful franchise with NBA Final hopes down the line, but it could be sooner rather than later.

Davis, who was traded for the remainder of his contract (one year) to the Los Angeles Laker, will perform on a stacked team already housing the league’s best player in Lebron James. Adding Davis to the mix will make the virtually unstoppable, which will only increase his monetary value for the next free agency period.

The New York Knicks set themselves up correctly for next offseason:

The Knicks smartly built contracts around veterans with an out after their first season, which allows them to clear cap if need be to pursue a top player like AD.

(via SNY’s Ian Begley)

Depending on how the Knicks spend their money during the summer of 2020, they could also have a sizeable amount of cap space heading into the summer of 2021.  The 2019-20 free-agent class could include Anthony Davis if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Lakers, and could also include restricted free agents Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown.

Davis may elect to sign on with the Lakers for the long haul considering the talent already on the roster, but if the Knicks seem like they’re headed in the right direction, Davis can step into a position to succeed where Carmelo Anthony ultimately failed, despite fantastic offensive production for years.

 

 

New York Knicks: NBA Preview Part 2

And now we move onto that den of mediocrity….the eastern conference….click here for part 1 of this preview.

 

  1. Boston Celtics: I think people are underestimating the amount of damage Kyrie did here. Tatum and Jaylen Brown should be infinitely better without Kyrie complaining to the media the team needs Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson.  Gordon Hayward will be totally back from his devastating ankle injury, and Kemba Walker will provide 90 percent of Irving’s production with 0 percent of the drama. They will pick up a big on the buyout market at some point, and Enes Kanter can score and rebound. If they can replace Al Horfords defense this team will be the surprise top team in the east.

  2. Philadelphia 76’ers: Anytime you can move on from noted motivational speaker Jimmy Butler you will improve your team. Replacing him with Josh Richardson is a huge win for Philly. Al Horford provides shooting, team defense, and Joel Embid injury insurance.  They have a lot of talented young players on the bench, but I’m not sure just how ready they are to contribute. Losing JJ Reddick hurts their spacing, and T.J McConnell was a bigger part of the team than people realize. At the end of the day, this team will go as far as Ben Simmons ability to improve his shooting will take them.

  3. Milwaukee Bucks- They have Giannis, who still hasn’t reached his ceiling as a player. They were able to retain Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton and add Robin Lopez for comedies sake. Losing Malcolm Brogdon is huge for this team, especially since Eric Bledsoe turns into a pumpkin in the postseason. Milwaukee needs to find a guard who can create offense and play defense to replace the underappreciated Brogdon if they want to be a true title contender.

  4. Indiana Pacers:  Speaking of Malcolm Brogdon, he joins T.J. McConnell,  T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb and the brothers Holliday as new additions on the Pacers. Indiana still has Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis from last year’s team. With that many guards and with the overlapping skill sets of Turner and Sabonis this team has a trade still to come. If Oladipo returns at full strength and they add a two-way wing this team could potentially surprise some people and make it to the conference finals.

  5. Miami Heat: In a race to the bottom the team treading water moves up. As currently constructed the heat have a solid starting five with a few decent bench players. In the east that makes you a 5 seed apparently. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic will provide most of the offense, and Butler, Winslow, and Bam Abadeyo have the potential to be solid defensively. They have big men who can space the floor in Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard, and Dion Waiters can be thrown on the court to see if he can provide some offense when they need a spark. They also have Kentucky’s Tyler Herro who has drawn rave reviews heading into the pre-season. They are probably a player or two away from true contention, and that’s only if nobody regresses or gets injured this year.

  6. Brooklyn Nets: The Nets added Kyrie Irving, but lost D’Angelo Russell. Irving has a ton of talent and playoff experience, but also has had health issues and is coming from a team he destroyed from the inside. I’m not so sure I would have swapped the two given Russell’s fit in the locker room and relative health and youth. They also added Kevin Durant, and we will see what that means next year when the veteran returns after his Achilles injury. DeAndre Jordan was last good 3 years ago, Caris Levert needs to show he can stay healthy and Jarret Allen needs to continue to develop for the team to improve on last season.

  7. Toronto Raptors: The defending champs will not be repeating this season. Stanley Johnson is replacing Kawhi Leonard and, well…he’s not as good. Kyle Lowry has been in a steady decline, and Fred VanVleet is not the all-star he looked like in the finals. Pascal Siakam is a nice player but before we anoint him a franchise cornerstone let’s see how he does as the primary option on offense. They have some solid role players and will make the playoffs in a weak conference but that’s about it.

  8. Atlanta Hawks: This is probably wishful thinking on my part but wouldn’t you rather see Trae Young and a team of young exciting players over the Magic or Pistons mediocrity again?  Young and John Collins are great young players, and I like Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter a lot. Evan Turner and Alex Crabbe are solid role players, and Alex Len was starting to look like less of a stiff on this team last year. They even have Charlie Brown’s son on the roster, good grief I like these guys.

  9. Orlando Magic: Knicks fans if your not careful this could be you. The team currently has Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Nik Vucevic, Mo Bamba, and Al Farouq Aminu for their frontcourt and somehow don’t have a single player who can play well on both ends of the floor. Their point guard is D.J. Augustin who I was shocked to see is only 31, I would have sworn he has been in the league since 1997. Behind him is failed 76ers draft pick Michael Carter- Williams. Behind him is failed 76ers draft pick, Markelle Fultz. When I can cut and paste that sentence and just switch names you know your GM is garbage.  I think Dennis Scott is still playing 2 guard for them.

  10. Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin hasn’t dunked in 3 years, they have wanted to trade Reggie Jackson from pretty much the moment they got him and Luke Kennard is going to be a starter. Somehow they are a playoff contender, the east is the worst.

  11. Chicago Bulls: Quietly the Bulls are starting to put together a solid team. Zach Lavine can score, Lauri Markkanen can shoot and the Jrs. (Otto Porter and Wendell Carter) can do a little bit of everything. I like the signing of Tomas Satoransky to run the offense, and Thad Young is a solid veteran presence. Coby White looked great in summer league, and at the very least brings athleticism and defense. I don’t think of any of these guys are superstars and that’s all that’s holding this team back from crashing the playoff party this year.

  12. New York Knicks: The Knicks are in a rough spot this year, too bad to go for the postseason but not bad enough to be a bottom 3 team thanks to some truly wretched competition. Last years top pick Kevin Knox was arguably the WORST player in the league. R.J. Barrett is either going to be the next James Harden or the next Stanley Johnson. Frank Ntikilina hasn’t learned to shoot in two years, and probably never will. They signed Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, and Marcus Morris to have them all fight each other and their one promising player from last year for minutes. They added Elfird Payton to ensure they have no guards who can shoot, and still have selfish gunners Dennis Smith Jr. and Alonzo Trier. After a season of promising being major players in the craziest offseason in years, the team now has eight 8th men and two lottery tickets.  They will not be scooching into the playoffs this year.

  13. Charlotte Hornets: Tony Parker retired and the Hornets were hoping he would take Nic Batum with him. They lost their franchise player and replaced him with a guy who is so up and down he was nicknamed “Scary Terry” for 20 million a year. Malik Monk still wishes he was drafted by the Knicks and Miles Bridges wishes he was drafted by anyone else. Bismack Biyombo is the third-string center because Cody Zeller is the starter. Michael Jordan is the Charlie Ward of league executives.

14.  Cleveland Cavaliers: Maybe after the Lakers debacle is over Lebron can “come home” again and passive-aggressively tweet at Kevin Love who they still would not have traded.

  1. Washington Wizards: Washington owes John Wall $37.8M in 2019-20
    $40.8M in 2020-21
    $43.8M in 2021-22
    $46.8M in 2022-23

drops mic

 

 

New York Knicks:Where do they land in my season preview?

It’s been one of the craziest offseasons in NBA history, with almost half the league switching teams. Some teams improved dramatically, some teams left us scratching our heads, and some teams managed to fall into both buckets. So I’d thought I’d take some time and offer my opinions/prediction on how everything is going to turnout. As always, delusional messages telling me how I’m an idiot and your team is going to the finals is always welcome @aelderbaum. Let’s start with the Western Conference.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers: They added two premier scorers who also happen to be two of the best defensive players in the league. They still have Patrick Beverly to make opposing point guards miserable, a great roll man in Montrazl Harrell, and sixth man extraordinaire Lou William’s. They also have quality depth with Landry Shamet, Rodney Mcgruder, Moe Harkless, Ivica Zubac and Jerome Robinson. The Clippers should be able to manage both superstars workloads and match up with any opponent. LA will be the top seed in the west.
  2. Utah Jazz : That’s right Utah will be the second seed in a brutal conference. By replacing Ricky Rubio with a point guard who could shoot the Jazz would become a contender, by replacing him with Mike Conley they are a legit championship caliber team. Along with Conley they also added a scorer with playoff chops in Bojan Bogdanovic, a quality back-up big man in Ed Davis, and a serviceable back up guard in Emanuel Mudiay. I can see Knicks fans rolling their eyes, but he had his moments for the team, and imagine him with actual NBA caliber teammates. Utah also still has Defensive POY Rudy Gobert, the underrated Joe Ingles, and Donovan Mitchell who maybe someday will measure up to the man the Knicks passed on him to take.

  3. Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets did what they always do and quietly added one of the best available players in a trade by acquiring Jerami Grant. Grant can play defense, is a career 37% three point shooter, and will play multiple positions. Adding him to a team that had the second best record in the west is only going to raise their ceiling. Nikola Jokic is an MVP candidate and maybe Jamal Murray wont soil himself in the post season this year. If Michael Porter can add anything and avoid spending time in a wheelchair this team is a legit title contender.

  4. Houston Rockets: This is the team I had the most trouble figuring out. Theres a reason every team Chris Paul has been part of has underachieved and had horrible chemistry. Removing him and the 30 games he was going to miss and replacing him with Russell Westbrook is a win for the Rockets. He and Harden will figure out how to coexist, and keep in mind Harden begged for this trade. He is going to be much more willing to play off the ball, defer to Russ, anything to make sure Houston is a better team. With teams having to try to stop the new superstar duo Eric Gordon and Clint Capela should be able to shine. Remember these guys almost took out the Warriors the last two years.

  5. Portland Trailblazers: The Blazers made the conference finals last season, and while I dont forsee an encore, they will still be a playoff team. With Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum they still boast one of the leagues best back courts, and have a ton of solid role players in Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, and Ken Bazemore. Hassan Whiteside should be able to man the middle until Jusuf Nurkic returns from his leg injury and the team is very high on second year guard Anfernee Simmons. Portland probably maxes out at a second round exit.

6.Golden State Warriors: Is it possible to call this team a sleeper? I think reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated. They still have Steph Curry, and by adding D’angelo Russell they have an all star caliber band-aid until Klay Thompson returns. Thompson is big enough to guard the opposition’s best wing player so him coexisting with Russell and Curry is not a ridiculous idea when he comes back. They still have Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Alfonzo Mckinnie from last years team and I really like the Willie Cauley-Stein addition. I think he can be a rich mans Festus Ezeli, and an even better defender. If Klay does make it back they could be dangerous in the post season.

  1. OKC Thunder: Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari , Steven Adams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Andre Roberson. Dennis Schroeder, Mike Muscala, Pat Patterson and Terrance Ferguson off the bench. OKC has built a sneaky fun roster while stockpiling approximately 450 picks in the next 5 drafts. Paul already has a chip on his shoulder, and now hes been exiled to Oklahoma, and everyone is saying he is stuck there because he is too old and expensive for anybody to want him. I think he will have his best season in the last few years just to prove people wrong, and he is on the perfect team to do so. Some talented role players, a borderline all star who can play unselfishly, and some young talent to mentor. I think it will be a struggle but they will sneak into the seventh seed.
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo on a team that will let him be this generations Jason Kidd, Brandon Ingram getting the chance to be a scorer and creator, and Zion electrifying crowds with his dunks and playmaking. In addition to that they have Nickeil Alexander-Walker looking like the steal of the draft, and Jackson Hayes being much further along then anyone planned. Jrue Holliday is an all star caliber two way guard to pair with Lonzo. They also added veteran shooter JJ Reddick and Jazz big man Derrick Favors. This is a fast rising team that seemed to make all the right moves this offseason and may arrive a year earlier than expected.

  • Los Angeles Lakers: Right now the Lakers starting five is DeMarcus Cousins or Javale McGee, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green and Lebron James. Lebron will turn 35 in December and is coming off the most serious injury he’d had in his career, so naturally he will be the starting point guard. Their bench is the washed Avery Bradley, the never actually been that good Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the even more washed Rajon Rondo, and probably should have retired Jared Dudley. There is noone on this roster to guard any of the Blazers or Warriors backcourt, or big athletic wings. Lebron will break down and this team will not make the playoffs.

  • San Antonio Spurs: They are running back essentially the same team in a stronger conference so I don’t see them finishing much higher than this. I’m more intrigued by the new Knicks/Spurs dirty tricks subplot. Popovich is ex military,  he may arrange for Marcus Morris to have an “accident” forcing the Knicks to sign yet another power forward.

  • Sacramento Kings: This one pains me, because I actually really like this team. Fox and Hield compliment each other perfectly, Nemanja Bjielica and Bogdan Bogdanovic provide spacing, and who doesent want to see Harry Giles stay healthy and have good year. Dwayne Dedmon and Trevor Ariza were perfect additions, and Marvin Bagley seems poised to make a leap. The Harrison Barnes contract is the first big issue I have, as he is being paid like an all star while hes at best slightly above average. They also dont have a true big defender, and on the wings Ariza is a little old to be your lockdown guy. I think Sacramento is a year and move or two away from really making some noise.

  • 12: Dallas Mavericks: I think Porzingis and Luka are going to be an awesome combination, and I dont get why Dallas backed out of adding Goran Dragic. Your not going anywhere this season,  why not go full Euro and bring in Luka’s buddy for a year. Maybe it goes great and Dragic resigns on a modest deal next season. Instead you add Delon Wright and resign Maxi Kleber with the money? Meh. Dallas has refused to tank in the past out of respect for Dirk, but now that hes gone, one lost year may not be the worst thing. They finally have their cap under control, adding another good young player and then building around Doncic, Porzingis and said player makes the most sense to me. I know Cuban and Carlisle always want to compete, but when your competitors have Paul George and Kawhi…maybe sit this one out.

    1. Memphis Grizzlies: Another team on the rise,  I just want to see Ja Morant play in games before I fully leap on the bandwagon. I dont have any real concerns and wish he would have landed in NY, but noone had concerns about Markelle Fultz either. I’m not sure what they’re doing at shooting guard with Josh Jackson and Grayson Allen, league sources tell me they are looking to add  Jayson William’s for  additional depth behind those guys.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: So umm do YOU have any interest in picking up Andrew Wiggins?

  • Phoenix Suns: “So you know how theres tons of free agents right now, well were totally getting a new starting point guard!”

  • “Who? Kyrie? Kemba? Brogdon?

    “Ummm not exactly…”

     

    Click here for part 2, the eastern conference.

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