Why The Mario Hezonja Signing Was Exactly What The Knicks Needed

There’s no doubt the 2018 season for the New York Knicks will be filled with growing pains and young talent trying to break into the starting lineup. Mario Hezonja is one of those players, as he will come to New York trying to furthur prove his abilities to the league. His skills are only contained by his own mental blocks, as he can shoot, defend, and extend the court with his passing.

The Knicks signed the former Orlando Magic star, as they declined his fourth-year option. Hezonja was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. He signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Knicks, making him a bargain.

Bringing on a 23 year-old natural forward will contribute to the Knicks’ youth agenda. Being that it’s only a one-year deal, it will give Hezonja an idea of the future of the franchise and if he wants to be a part of it.

Why did Hezonja sign with the Knicks?

The prized forward received offers from several big-market teams, but chose to take his talents to New York for one reason. He loves coach Fizdale. The Knicks’ new coach brings a new mentality to the Garden – one of progress and development. He beings hard-nosed, aggressive approach to the team; something they have craved for years.

Fizdale’s most underrated trait is his ability to connect with the modern day players, which gave the Knicks a leg up when they knocked on Hezonja’s door.

One of Hezonja’s weaknesses is his struggles on defense. He has the length and physical characteristics to improve, but he exerts massive amounts of energy on scoring which takes away from his defensive skills. When comparing 2016 to 2017, Hezonja cut his three point defense from 43.7% to 35.7%. Even playing average defense would make him a star on a young New York team. We all know when Carmelo Anthony brought to New York – good offense and no defense. Hopefully, the Knicks’ new signing can change the narrative attached to his name.

 

Grading The Draft For The New York Knicks

Did the New York Knicks finally get it right in this year’s draft?

After much anticipation of whom the Knicks might select, the time has finally come and with the 9th pick – the New York Knicks drafted Kentucky star freshman, Kevin Knox. Knox is a 6’9 forward with close to a 7-foot wingspan and a 9-foot standing reach. All of those measurable are unteachable. He’s an athletic wing. While he only shot 34% from deep in college, he’s got a pretty stroke and projects to be good shooter from the outside on the next level.

Who should they have taken?

Most fans who attended the draft clearly wanted Missouri Forward, Michael Porter Jr. When Cleveland drafted Collin Sexton with the 8th pick, Knick fans across the Barclay’s Center all felt a sigh of relief and a rush of excitement that they may actually get a player who was once a top 3 projected pick.

As we know, they passed on MPJ for seemingly obviously reasons and grabbed Knox, much to the dismay of numerous fans in attendance.

This was clearly the right choice. Porter Jr. was saddled with a back injury for all but 53 minutes in his lone year at Missouri. He reportedly failed multiple physicals and had to cancel workouts due to a bad hip. Can he turn out to be a star? Absolutely. But once he had to cancel workout, the Knicks had to pass on him. Hell, NBA Legend Jerry West passed on him – twice.

Mikal Bridges is a nice player but he is going to start his NBA career 3 years older than Knox and doesn’t project to be a major impact player on offense.

What does Kevin Knox potentially bring to New York short term and long term?

Drafting Knox proves that Scott Perry and Steve Mills are ready to build up the right way. For years, the Knicks have always overpaid for average players past their primes and never properly built a roster with capability of sustaining success. Knox doesn’t turn 19 until August 11th. Frank Ntilikina will only be 20 next season. They don’t seem to have any intention of signing players to long term deals this upcoming free agency but it’s still too soon to tell.

Coach Fiz has no pressure to win this year and should focus on developing the youngsters and that means letting Kevin go through growing pains this year.

Long term? Can he be the next Paul George? Maybe he is a bigger version of Suns star Devin Booker? The talent is there. He can be your coveted wing for the future and go to scorer. If he works hard and continuously improves, there is no reason that he can’t be one of the best to come from this draft class and a future Eastern All-Star.

Where the heck was Mitchell Robinson this past year?

The Knicks took 7”1 center, Mitchell Robinson with the 36th pick in the draft. Robinson is the ultimate “boom or bust” player. He is freakishly long and athletic as seen in this short clip. He can be of great value to the Knicks or to any for that matter, however, he need to apply himself mentally.

Mitchell Robinson was ranked 11th overall by ESPN coming out of High School just behind top 10 picks Jaren Jackson and Kevin Knox. He originally committed to Texas A&M until de-committing shortly after. He then went on to commit to play for Western Kentucky, the highest recruit they have got in decades until he one day just packed his bags and left the campus.

Is this cause for concern? Of course it is. He trained on his own and he didn’t play any competitive ball over the year. No one really knows how his development progressed and there are obvious character concerns. That being said, that’s primarily the reason he dropped to the second round.

He has the talent and physical tools to become the next Clint Capella or Hassan Whiteside. I would be patient with him, get him some NBA minutes and some G-League time. I am really optimistic about him as an athlete. He can be one of the best centers in this draft and a key contributor to the Knicks and a backup center or starting next to KP. I am happy with the selection, the second round is usually reserved for question marks like Robinson and we could only hope we get a steal.

How will UDFA Allonzo Trier help the team?

The once highly touted guard didn’t have the best college career. He was signed shortly after the conclusion the NBA draft. He missed 7 games in 2016 due to a hand injury. In 2017, he was suspended for 19 games for violating the drug policy.

He did however have some success on the court. As a sophomore, he earned second-team all-conference honors in the PAC-12 and was named the most outstanding player in the PAC-12 Tournament. In 2017-18, Trier scored 18.1 PPG on 50% shooting while nailing 38% of his triples, not bad for a 6”5 athletic guard.

He has the talent to become a solid scorer off the bench in the NBA and can prove that in the summer league. He is a 3rd year player so we usually know what they are but there have been players like Draymond and Paul Millsap that exceeded all expectations. Obviously that isn’t whats expected of him, however, you never know.

Overall, for the first time, I really thought the Knicks did everything right. Knox was the right pick whether he pans out or not. Robinson has a TON of talent and for the second round, you accept that. Trier can maybe turn into a bench player this year and gives them more flexibility to trade Courtney Lee. Now it’s just up to the coaching staff to develop this newly acquired talent and for the players to work hard and bring a ring to the Mecca.

Overall Grade: B +

The Knicks earned a solid grade this draft simply because of the pure youth they added to the team. They drafted high reward players that have plenty of of room to grow, resulting in a good draft.

 

New York Knicks: Should Porzingis Return At All In 2018?

With New York Knicks’ superstar Kristaps Porzingis out of commission until at least the All-Star Break with a torn ACL, an interesting question must be entertained. He has begun rehabbing his knee and has been seen already in the gym, shooting around.  Porzingis even said that he ‘wants to attack’ his rehab and he’s doing just that. However, should he even return to the Mecca this upcoming season?

Why Porzingis is better off sitting out the entire 2018 season for the New York Knicks:

Let’s be real, the Knicks are not making the playoffs next season. Even if Porzingis didn’t get hurt, the Knicks stills were only projected to win 34 games last season. The main goal for the next campaign is to develop our young players. The young talent needs to get quality time so they can grow into their roles in the NBA – I’m talking about Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox and Damyean Dotson. It would be nice to make the playoffs, but this team needs to learn how to play with one another first and foremost.

Since the Knicks, most likely, won’t be in contention for the playoffs next season, what would be the point for Porzingis to return around or after the All-Star Break? To be honest, there really isn’t any. Yes, it would be good to have him get into NBA action again, but why risk re-injuring his knee if the season is a wash?

Porzingis is, currently, our only superstar and main attraction for the Knicks to lure possible free agents in the coming seasons. The Knicks are in no shape to risk re-injuring his knee. Porzingis is the main piece of the puzzle for the future and he needs to be healthy, especially if we want players to come join him.

Getting down to it, Porzingis needs to sit out for the entire upcoming season. This is probably something that Knicks fans do not want to hear, but it‘s for the best. Of course, free agents will want to know and see him back to full strength before they even think about signing with the Knicks. But, we have to think what’s best for the long-term. Letting him sit and allowing more then enough time to get back to 100% is what the organization should be concentrated on.

New York Knicks: Why Kevin Knox Will Be The Perfect Compliment For Porzingis

The New York Knicks are young.  When was the last time fans uttered those words?  I’m not quiet sure, but it is certainly something different. The Knicks drafted 18-year-old Kevin Knox out of Kentucky and the fans in attendance were not pleased. Boos and chants of “Michael Porter Jr.” rained down as Kevin Knox walked across the stage to shake the hand of commissioner Adam Silver.  The new regime in the front office have decided to take on a younger approach when it comes to trying to rebuild the Knicks.  Fans should be rejoicing and not booing.

Why Knox was a great pick:

Kevin Knox was a good pick for the Knicks. Why?  Because he’s young. The Knicks need to do something different.  All of those ‘quick fixes’ and hoping that a big name free agent comes to New York is not in the cards for us, at least not this season. Something different needs to start happening. The only good thing Phil Jackson did was drafting young players in Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina. Thankfully, it has continued under the watch of new General Manager Scott Perry with drafting Knox.

There is nothing wrong with going with a younger player these days, that is what the NBA is, young talent. The Knicks finally realized their wrong doing in the past and decided to change their approach. New York has taken a page out of the Golden State Warriors playbook and begun to build their team through the draft. Pairing 18-year-old Knox with 19-year-old Ntilikina and a 22-year-old Porzingis is a major step in the right direction. Yes, Porzingis is coming off a ACL injury, but we’ll see him again. The pairing of Knox and Porzingis is what fans should be excited for in the future.

Will Porzingis be able to return to 100%?

We all know what Porzingis is capable of.  It will be a little different with him coming out of that knee injury and seeing if he can return to his former superstar self.  With today’s rehabilitation programs, I think he will be something similar to what we have seen in the past. Anyway, even with Porzingis out, youth development is what Knicks fans should be looking forward to. The injury requires a minimum of six months to return back to physical activity. There are rumors that he could miss up to the All-Star break or beyond. We could even make the argument that Kristaps is better off missing the entire season to allow Knox to develop and to avoid any further injuries to the Knicks’ star player.

With Porzingis out, this is the time for Knox and Ntilikina to show their potential.  Someone is going to have to step up and show that they can fill that void that we lost when Porzingis went down. Knox is going to get his chance under new head coach David Fizdale.  Fizdale hasn’t ruled out Knox starting as a rookie and truthfully, why not. If the Knicks front office was so thrown away by his ability during workouts then toss him into the fire. Trust me, it can’t get any worse.

Letting Knox get ample amount of time as a rookie will only better himself for the future. Does he need work in areas?  Yes, mainly defensive rebounding. But, what rookie doesn’t need improve in certain areas. The Knicks are going to need a player that can step in a fill in for Porizingis until he is able to return to action. Knox has the size, wingspan, and offensive capabilities to be that player.  I’d rather start them young and let them learn from there mistakes so they can grow and develop into a better player.  If he is given that chance, then with Porzingis returns, the team of Porzingis and Knox could be a dynamic duo in the back-court.

Knox already has a chip on his shoulder. To be honest, being booed was blessing, even though no 18-year-old should be booed when drafted to an NBA team. Knox even said that him and Porzingis have bonded over both being booed when drafted. That is something that all Knicks should want to hear, the young rookie and our superstar have already bonded. Knox is now going to come to the team with that edge and desire to show the fans of New York that he was the right pick.  He is going to want to be that player that we pair with Porzingis to make the future bright for our New York Knicks.