The Rite of Passage: Who Will New York Knicks Fans Boo, Cheer on NBA Draft Night?
Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Kristaps Porzingis (SPN) reacts after being selected as the number four overall pick to the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It is almost a right of passage for the New York Knicks first-round pick to be booed. Who will get the boo birds this year?

The NBA Draft is within sight. Just like every year, thousands of New York Knicks fans will crowd into the hosting arena to see the latest addition to their beloved team. Throughout the years Knick fans have not been shy in expressing their dislike for the team’s selection. First-round picks such as Danilo Gallinari, Iman Shumpert, and most recently Kristaps Porzingis, all were booed on one of the most important nights of their young lives.

It is almost a right of passage for New York’s first-round pick to be booed. But not every first-round selection has been met with thunderous jeers from the crowd. In 2013 the Knicks selected ex-Michigan Wolverine Tim Hardaway Jr. much to the delight of Knicks fans in the Barclays Center.

With the Knicks slotted to pick with the eight pick, here are prospects fans will have a strong reaction to, one way or another.

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Players Who Will Be Cheered on Draft Night

Dennis Smith Jr.

NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr. has a huge amount of support from New York’s fanbase it seems. The Knicks have lacked a lead guard for quite some time and this draft is full of them. If not for an ACL injury in Smith’s senior year in high school he could have conceivably been a top five pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Getting a player who can finish, distribute and create as well as Smith at number eight is something Knick fans will be over the moon about, especially at the point guard position.

Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox

Monk and Fox both went to school at a basketball powerhouse in Kentucky. Fans attending the draft react more kindly to a player who went to big programs. Just look at the reaction Tim Hardaway Jr. received on draft night despite many thinking he was picked too early. Fans also love picks that shine under the bright lights of March Madness and did Fox ever. Fox outscored likely top-two pick Lonzo Ball in the Sweet 16 by 29 points, holding Ball to only 10 points while putting in 39 points. Monk also put in 21 points with four three-pointers against UCLA. Both Fox and Monk showed up big-time in the tournament. Combine this with their school’s admirable reputation for putting high-level talent in the NBA and these two could receive a warm welcome from the fans in New York.

Players Who Will Received Mixed Reactions on Draft Night

Frank Ntilikina

This international prospect has a huge amount of support from a great number of Knick fans. He certainly has the tools to become an elite defender, with a near seven-foot wingspan. However, Knick fans have never been too kind to international draftees, unless of course, you are Maciej Lampe. Kristaps Porzingis, Danilo Gallinari, and my personal favorite, Kostas Papanikolaou, were all international players booed mercilessly on draft night.

Many fans have simply never seen these foreign players play basketball and automatically think the worst of them. If the pick turns out to be 18-year-old Ntilikina expect an outpour of boos from those who have yet to hear about Ntilikina met with fans who like Ntilikina’s incredible measurements.

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Jonathan Isaac

Isaac has been off the board in most mock drafts before the Knicks pick, and for good reason. The former Seminole might be raw, but he is one of the top defenders in this draft class. Despite his defensive prowess, Isaac’s team was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Xavier. The fact that Isaac has not been projected to the Knicks and that his team exited March Madness early could mean fans simply have not seen enough of him. For the fans who have seen him they will know the Knicks drafted a young defensive stud who can slide right next to Porzingis, but how many will see Isaac’s brilliance? It is hard to tell.

Players Who Will Be Booed on Draft Night

Lauri Markkanen

Kristaps Porzingis has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons, although this has not been his fault. Knicks President Phil Jackson has been taking calls to see what teams would offer the Knicks for the Latvian unicorn. So who would be Porzingis’ replacement? According to Adrian Wojnarowski it could be Markkanen.

Just imagine the pandemonium if Markkanen were to be drafted on Thursday. Madison Square Garden would be in ruins if the Knicks got rid of their only beacon of hope they have had in years. Drafting Markkanen could spark a chain reaction which results in Porzingis no longer being a Knick. The only thing that would enrage Knick fans more would be if Paul Pierce returned to win the Celtics another championship next season.

Luke Kennard

Kennard might actually have one of the more successful careers of this year’s group of draftees. Three-point shooters will always have a valuable place on NBA teams. However, drafting Kennard instead of the talent that would be available at this point of the draft would be leaving Knick fans incredulous. Drafting Luke Kennard at eight is like eating at Sbarro in New York. Sure, it solves a hunger problem, but then you see somebody come out of a pizzeria like Juliana’s with an incredible pepperoni slice and you realize the grave mistake you just made. Knicks, don’t make Knick fans become that sad, angry Sbarro man or woman.

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Charles Hart

Charles is a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University from Long Island, New York, majoring in broadcast journalism.

As a member of Penn State’s CommRadio, the official radio station of the College of Communications, Charles has written various articles covering Penn State football and basketball. In addition to writing, Charles also co-hosts Empire State College, the only New York sports talkshow on campus.