With the 2015 NBA Draft representing Phil Jackson’s biggest test with the New York Knicks, we outline why Justise Winslow is the right pick.
By Robby Sabo
What we just watched from Cleveland Cavaliers stud LeBron James, albeit in a losing effort, was some of the most marvelous basketball we’ll ever lay eyes on.
The man wasn’t just good, he was 10-levels above amazing.
Despite what your local Twitter feed may read, or those trendy memes that make the world go-round, LeBron did, indeed, put his superman cape on during the 2015 NBA Postseason.
No, he sure isn’t Michael Jordan. At the same time though, Jordan would have never brought this pathetic group of Cavs on the brink of an NBA Title.
What makes James so splendid is his all-around brilliance and basketball IQ. Of course the man is blessed with freakish athletic ability that few can match, but what puts him over the top are those little things.
Hopefully, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks took notice.
With the 2015 NBA Draft only two-nights away, the chatter in and around New York City has elevated. Knowing that this is Jackson’s real test as big boss of the organization, he cannot screw it up.
Thinking he would, indeed, opt for a big-man (Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor) if they found their way in the top-two, many fans actually rejoiced when it was revealed that they’d pick fourth.
To them it meant D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay would be heading to Madison Square Garden. It meant Jackson would be forced to select a player that fits the NBA’s more recent recipe for success: phenomenal guard-play.
This meant it would force Jackson to not think Triangle too much.
However, over the last several weeks the chatter about Russell and Kristaps Porzingis moving up and Okafor moving down has gained so much momentum that many believe Okafor could actually be available to the Knicks at No. 4.
Hopefully, Jackson realizes Okafor is not their guy.
Hopefully, he realizes this once he pops in a tape of Duke’s run last March, as there was another guy on the floor alongside Okafor that needs to be headed to the Big Apple.
The 19-year kid they call Justise needs to be Phil’s guy.
Duke Freshman Justise Winslow spoke with Mike Francesa on WFAN 660 today. His cool, calm demeanor and attitude were impressive right off the bat.
Mike Francesa with Justise Winslow http://t.co/JuUJqJ9TiE
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) June 24, 2015
Everything he’s done throughout this grueling process has been spot on.
What really should have the Knicks excited is how the youngster plays.
Winslow is not a “me” guy. He’s a supreme talent who thrives on doing everything well – an all-around coach favorite who allows a team to come together in a flawless way.
If the squad needs hustle and intensity, Winslow is there. If the team needs lock down defense or some cleaning up on the boards, the 6′ 7” Winslow (who plays bigger than that) is there. If the coach needs a little scoring and even some spot-up shooting, Winslow is there.
Think back to the National Championship game for a moment.
When Okafor was off the floor, Winslow was the catalyst and leader of Duke. The team actually played better with Okafor off the floor.
Freshman Grayson Allen did come up with an epic 16-points in 21-minutes, but it was Winslow who captured those tremendous plays on the defensive end of the floor. He took charges, hustled his brains out, and pounded the glass to the tune of nine-rebounds, three-blocks and a steal in the contest.
It was this type of play that led to his 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and .486 shooting clip from the floor for the season. His National Championship performance exemplified exactly what this kid is.
He’s a guy who has an incredible sense of his surroundings and fills the gaps for his team in a perfect order.
When Okafor was off the floor, he turned into a scorer. When Tyus Jones was off the floor, he played the role of facilitator. When they both were on the floor, he played the role of defensive lock-down man.
He even has that hint of toughness you’d like to see in a guy who plays ball in the city.
This is the type of guy who can easily be identified as a hard-worker – a guy who wants to be great.
I’ll take that “basketball player” type over any kind of possible potential from overseas any day of the week. This is especially the case for a team in the Knicks position of having nothing. A player like this – so team oriented and balanced – is perfect to build a team around.
The problem that comes up – even if Jackson does like Winslow – is that he plays essentially the same position as Carmelo Anthony. Both guys fit the three-spot. Both guys can actually play and extended-four.
It shouldn’t matter. The reality there are so few weaknesses in Winslow’s game should be too much to worry about the best fit.
The one aspect of his game we didn’t witness too often in college was his handle. Aside from that, he does it all. He can even shoot from anywhere on the floor.
The worst thing Phil can do is compound his very first big mistake (signing Melo to “almost” a max deal), by not selecting the best player No. 4 overall.
If Jackson takes the best “fit” around Melo instead of the best “player,” he’ll regret it for the rest of his life.
NEXT: Ways Knicks Will Screw Up Draft