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8th pick does not get Knicks excited

Leslie Monteiro



Philadelphia can look at this year’s NBA Draft as the dawn of a new era. Not only the Sixers have Ben Simmons, last year’s No. 1 draft pick, ready to play this coming season after missing the entire 2017 season with a foot injury, but they executed a trade over the weekend by acquiring the Celtics No. 1 overall draft pick for the Sixers No. 3 pick and either a first-rounder in 2018 and 2019.

From all accounts, the Sixers will draft Washington guard Markelle Fultz. He would join a core of fantastic young players in Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor and Simmons. After Sixers fans trusted the process for years, they could be dreaming of a super team that could dethrone the NBA champion Golden State Warriors one day.

New York doesn’t have that luxury, even though it is the site of the NBA Draft. The Knicks will have the No. 8 pick. That does not capture the imagination of the fans, even though they should do okay with this draft pick whether it is North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith Jr., Kentucky point guard Malik Monk or French guard Frank Ntilikina. If anything, the Knicks fans are worried about Kristaps Porzingis being traded.


The hunch here is the Knicks will draft Ntilikina since he would be willing to serve as a guinea pig to the archaic triangle offense. Plus, the Knicks basketball czar Phil Jackson has had success in drafting Europeans such as Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Porzingis, so he might as well draft another European.

What the Knicks fans wanted was the Knicks to win the lottery or at least get the 2nd pick.

They wanted UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. Now he is a player who could have made a difference with this franchise with his passing skills and scoring skills. Think Magic Johnson. Even with Ball’s father being a pain in the posterior, Knicks fans would sign up for that.

The Knicks needed to draft a player that fans would be interested in watching right now, not five years from now. They needed to draft a player that can make a difference now, not five years from now. This franchise has been unwatchable for a long time. The Knicks fans want a reason to believe. By getting the 8th pick, Knicks fans have no choice but to be patient. That’s asking too much for fans that have saw bad basketball.

Getting the 8th pick might as well as be getting the 13th pick. This pick is likely a project. Who knows if he will develop into a star?

The Knicks desperately need star power. They don’t have one. Carmelo Anthony is getting old and useless, and the disgruntled Porzingis did not build on a good rookie season this past season. That’s why getting the top pick would have given the team credibility.

Ball would have given the Knicks real hope. He would have given them a reason to actually watch the games the entire season just to see his development. He would have given a franchise some much-needed buzz.

Sorry, but the No. 8 pick is not going to get anyone to watch the Knicks right away. Now if he makes an impression and improves during the season, that’s another story.

The NBA did the Knicks no favors by giving this pick in the draft lottery last month, and the Knicks did not do themselves any favors by not tanking down the stretch.

Knicks fans hoped the NBA would hand them a top three pick. It never happened, and that should end the nonsense about the league rigging the draft for big-market teams.

The Knicks were the biggest losers of all the teams participating in the NBA draft lottery. They needed to win the lottery to bring hope for a basketball-starved city. The Knicks fans put up a horrible season by their team just to be rewarded with a top pick. It didn’t happen.

The NBA Draft should be a celebration for Knicks fans. Instead, there will be indifference on draft night. For all we know, the Knicks could trade the pick along with Porzingis to the Celtics for the No. 3 pick. Trading up for a pick will not be appealing if Porzingis is gone.

The Knicks are basically in square one, which is an indictment of the job Jackson has done as the Knicks president of basketball operations. He’s been at the job for awhile now, and the Knicks have not made any progress since he was hired.

The Zenmaster needed the Knicks to win the lottery in the worst way. Getting a chance to draft Ball would have helped his credibility with the public. Now, he has to hope to get lucky just like he was couple of years ago with Porzingis whether he trades up in the draft or make a pick at No. 8.

That does not sound appealing, does it?

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.