Unsurprisingly, the New York Knicks are running their draft workouts differently than every other team in the NBA.The New York Knicks have futzed around with Phil Jackson’s triangle offense for three seasons. Derek Fisher was noncommittal and it got him fired. Jeff Hornacek tried to mix the triangle in with his up-tempo offense, and when the team struggled he was overruled. Now with the future of the franchise at stake, Jackson isn’t taking any chances. It’s his way or the highway.
The Knicks have three picks to use in the 2017 NBA Draft (No. 8, No. 44, No. 58). However, Jackson isn’t judging players on traditional skills and attributes. He’s judging them on how they grasp the triangle offense.
Drafting players based on a system, especially one that doesn’t work in today’s NBA, is utterly ridiculous. However, that is the state of today’s Knicks. They are a ridiculous franchise. They are a team with a head coach who doesn’t even have the power to run draft workouts as he sees fit and a stubborn executive who doesn’t realize he’s living in the past.
One of the main reasons New York is projected to hold international prospect Frank Ntilikina in such high regard is his fit in the triangle offense. Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk are more NBA-ready than the 18-year-old Ntilikina. However, Ntilikina has the triangle offense gifts that they don’t possess.
It begs the questions as to whether or not the Knicks will draft the player they feel is best or who’s best for their system. The Phil Jackson cult followers will tell you that he’s a genius so we should all trust his system that won 11 rings. It’s worked out so well the past three years.
What about the prospects who go through the workouts?
North Carolina swingman Justin Jackson worked out for the Knicks on Tuesday and talked to Marc Berman of The New York Post about how different it was from his six other pre-draft workouts.
“It was more teaching than all the other ones,’’ Jackson told The Post in a phone interview. “With the triangle and the other types of offenses they run, I would say it was a little more mental than physical.”
Jackson’s been a coveted target of the Knicks for awhile. The 22-year-old did everything that a college player can do. He was named ACC Player of the Year and won a National Championship last season with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Jackson, a three-and-D prospect at the next level, is a candidate for the Knicks if they trade for that second first-round pick as has been rumored.
Despite most of the criticism that comes the triangle offense’s way, Jackson claimed to have a good grasp on it. Then again, what’s he supposed to say?
“I picked it up pretty easily — everyone picked it up as time went on,’’ he said. “That helped a lot as far the workout, going into different actions. For me it was just basketball, making plays and reads.
The former ACC POY noted that Jackson was hands on during the workout.
“Phil [Jackson] stepped in a few times to say what he wanted to see, but it was mostly coach [Jeff] Hornacek running the workout.’’
The former head coach made a point during his notorious press conference of saying he wanted to be more hands on next season.
Jackson made it sound like an offer, but it didn’t look like Jeff Hornacek had a choice. He doesn’t have a choice when it comes to running the triangle.
Carmelo Anthony hasn’t bought into the triangle and Jackson is obviously ready to move on from him. It’s triangle before everything. Including one of the greatest scorers in the history of the NBA.
Kristaps Porzingis has stated he likes the triangle offense. Now, this was pre-exit meeting blow off, but it’s no surprise he’s Phil’s favorite.
Porzingis is the future and Jackson is looking for more young talents to pair with him. As long as they fit the triangle.