By Craig Hoberman
The NBA Draft Lottery was held last week. The New York Knicks had given up their seat at the table waiting for the cards to be revealed - but that might be a good thing. According to a statistical analysis by 82games.com, the Knicks are the worst drafting team of the last twenty years (based on the career averages and overall success of the draftees). Given that ever-so-prestigious title, it makes sense that the Knicks haven’t been a consistently good franchise since the Ewing era. In fact, it’s safe to say that they’ve been a fairly terrible organization since then – erratic coaching and management changes, failure to develop high draft picks, the Isiah Thomas catastrophe (most Knick fans try to pretend this never happened), playoff troubles and even owner James Dolan’s infamous meddling. And even more good news for Knicks fans this offseason: in what is being called the most talent-heavy NBA draft in over a decade, the Knicks have not a pick to speak of -- again.
Although the Denver Nuggets trade allowed Knicks fans to enjoy the team’s best multi-season run in years (Melo pushed them into the playoffs three straight times, a massive upgrade from the horrid performances of the prior decade), that success didn’t continue through to this season. The Knicks missed the playoffs and lost a multitude of disappointing games throughout the year. So the question is: although we Knicks fanatics got a few great years out of him, was Carmelo Anthony worth the price? It’s unanimous among analysts and fans that the Isiah Thomas pick-trade-a-thon of the mid 2000’s ended up sending the team spiraling into decay, but how much worse is it that years later, in 2014, the Knicks are again forced to face the consequences of the ‘win now’ mentality?
What kinds of players are NY really missing out on? Top prospects Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum will definitely fall outside where the Knicks pick would be (#12, currently held by the Orlando as a result of the Melo trade from the Nuggets and then more trades after) but even further down the list are players that could still make an immediate impact on any struggling team. Yes, this year’s draft class is that damn good.
The Knicks have tried the ‘win-now’ management strategy for far too long. Trading away the possibilities of young talent for players that didn’t even make a difference is not the way I expect new team president Phil Jackson to run this team. Somebody needs to step up, stand up to Dolan and explain to him that it takes time to build a team that can win -- and the best way to start is not by simply grabbing a star or two- but by using draft picks to build a reliable squad. The Kings, 76ers, Cavs, Celtics and Magic are doing it- so why can’t the Knicks? Hopefully, Jackson will see how this mentality has destroyed the franchise -- and, in addition, perhaps add Kevin Love in a year or two. Maybe he’ll use the NBA draft to create a competitive squad that can win games. And I swear, if we trade even more picks away for someone like Kevin Love or Rondo, and that doesn’t work out, I’m moving to Orlando and declaring myself a Magic fan. They’ve been a laughable squad for years, but watch the moves they’ve been making in the last few drafts- they’ll be a winning team soon enough- and I’m getting tired of waiting around for the Knicks to win.
(Guest writer Craig Hoberman is a student and SUNY-Cortland and Social Media consultant, dedicated Knicks fan and patriot. You can follow Craig on Twitter at @MyTownTutorsNY)