The Lakers Don’t Have the Next Kobe, but the First Lonzo

By Alexander C. Lawrence

As painful as this might sound to Laker fans like myself, the Los Angeles Lakers do NOT have the next Kobe “Bean” Bryant on the roster. Kobe brought so much to the game of basketball that we may not see the next Kobe for years, if ever again. Kobe believed whole-heartedly that each practice should be as hard as a game, if not harder. If Kobe didn’t like something his teammates were doing he was never shy letting them know it. He was arguably the most important player in basketball from 1999 to 2009 and was the bridge that filled the void left by Michael Jordan.

With all these accolades that Kobe accomplished, its tough for anyone to come into the league and fill his shoes, much less a pass-first point guard with a braggadocios father. But that still doesn’t mean Lonzo Ball can’t be the rightful heir to Kobe Bryant. Fans were so excited to see what Ball could bring to the table since a lot of people viewed him as a can’t miss prospect with loads of potential. Kobe was special too when drafted, but he had a reliable and proven star center in Shaq who he shared the court with, something Ball must do without.

Emulating Kobe will be near impossible, but Lonzo doesn’t need to do that. I think right now the primary focus for him should be to work hard each day on getting better. Yeah it’s no surprise that the majority of Laker Nation and the organization are banking on him being the next great Laker, this has been a star-starved team in a star hungry market. I’m confident he can be that and of course being drafted so high to a franchise that has been known to be a competitive basketball team throughout its franchises storied history comes with high expectations. He is not alone with the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Josh Hart etc. who are all young players looking to thrive and help bring an NBA championship back to LA.

There is a clear target on Ball’s back, but his father LaVar Ball has always put his sons in the spotlight claiming they have the ability to be great, so this nothing new to him. The truth is it’s never going to stop until he reaches greatness. He has to hone his game and take it one game (or practice at a time). He isn’t the get in your face type of guy as Kobe was, that’s just not him. That’s okay though because he has passing and rebounding abilities that are out of this world and easily surpass Kobe’s at his peak. He has smooth passing skills and he’s always looking ahead to see how he can set his teammates up to score, before himself. Those players don’t come around often but his potential based on what we saw from him at UCLA is too intriguing not to assume he can adjust and be the guy the Lakers have so desperately needed since Kobe’s departure.

For all NBA prospects that are drafted, no matter how much of a “can’t-miss” prospect they are, there is always a wait and see approach because you don’t really know what a player has until a few years of developing them. L.A. has never had a prospect like Lonzo and the excitement that people have for him is unparalleled. Kobe walked into Shaq’s spotlight and didn’t need to be the savior from the get-go. If Lonzo plays his game, goes about his business and performs on the court, he will win over the media and fans of the NBA.

The New-Look Lake Show

By Alexander C. Lawrence 

These new Los Angeles Lakers are fast, versatile and athletic. From Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram to Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Kuzma, the pieces this team has acquired are looking to fulfill the promise of getting over that playoff hump that has plagued them since the 2012-13 season. These Lakers are young and aggressive which is why I believe this team can do great things in the near future.

So far in the 2017-18 season we’ve seen glimpses of what this young team is capable of. Lonzo Ball has shown the ability to be pass-first in his mentality, not common among today’s scoring-centric Point Guards. He is a pass first, score last kind of player despite the potential to be a prolific scorer. He has solely been committed to finding ways for his teammates to score. His teammates aren’t complaining as they are still working to build good chemistry. Lonzo knows how to anticipate passes and for every successful NBA team there must be some kind of telepathy established among their players. He has to find guys that he can lean on and count on being in certain spots and positions. A lot of this is placed on Ball to be able to develop this telepathy among his teammates, but his teammates also have a responsibility to know where to be so Ball can get them the rock. There is a learning curve for both sides as they learn what each other likes and when and where they want to be when passes occur. If Ball intends to succeed he’ll need to help build up this team chemistry and a strong second half performance is not out of the question despite his inconsistent play in the first half of his rookie season.

Lonzo Ball is not the only rookie making noise in Staples Center as rookie Forward Kyle Kuzma has made an impact right away. Kuzma plays every game with a killer instinct and goes out each night locked in and ready to play. He keeps his composure in big moments such as in the Laker’s game against he Houston Rockets. These same Lakers ended James Harden and the Rockets’ 15-game win streak with Chris Paul in the line-up. They also ended the Rockets 55-game win streak when scoring at least 115 points. They won behind Kuzma’s career-high 38 points despite James Harden posting 51 points. As of right now he is looking like the steal of the draft. He is asserting himself as the best option at the 4 over Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.

Brandon Ingram has the opportunity to be one of the NBA’s next great defenders with his elite length and tireless work ethic. The hard work he’s put in is paying dividends in year two as he is averaging 16 ppg, which is up from his 9.4 ppg last season. Ingram seems to be on his way to being the star the team has needed to close out games, but still has work to do. He is not afraid of big-time moments and is establishing himself as a go-to target. He drives to the basket like few others and so far teams can’t figure him out. He knows how to finish around the rim and draw fouls most of the time when doing so. In two-years we’ve seen his mid-range shot become a core aspect of his game which, with his lengthy arms, makes it difficult for most to contest. The problem with Ingram, aside from improving his defense, is getting him to shoot the three ball. This season his 3 point shot accounts for less than 13% of his total shots. That number needs to go up, which could help make him the truly potent scoring threat that he was billed as at Duke. If he works on his defense and three point range he will wind up being the man in L.A. that most, including Kobe, predict him to be.

Larry Nance Jr. brings so much energy when he is on the court. He brings strength and speed when playing the 4 or 5 position, which creates a mismatch for opposing teams.  He isn’t worried about mismatches or who he is playing he just plays, as evidenced by his most recent dunk when he hammered it down on Warriors F Kevin Durant. However, Nance must work on his offensive contribution to the team in terms of scoring and offensive rebounds. Luke Walton thus far has shown he likes pairing Nance and C Brook Lopez together when they are healthy, a clear sign of Nance’s rising stock. His rebounding and leaping ability is out of this world and if he continues to work hard he will have a future in L.A. His mature play has made him into a clear cut contributor to the team.

By now most people are well aware of the decision to start Julius Randle off the bench by the Lakers and how he was thrilled about the move. This has been partly due to inconsistent play when he was healthy. He has performed better since the move to the bench and some might say Randle, Clarkson and Kuzma are one of better big-three bench units in the NBA. This season he is averaging 12 ppg to go along with 6 rpg. He brings excellent strength when playing opposing big men which makes up for his height mismatch. As much as it pains me to say this, everything is pointing to Randle being done in L.A. at the conclusion of the season. There are big names such as LeBron James and Paul George on the free agent market which could complicate his future with the team.

Jordan Clarkson was drafted with the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft and there’s no question he has helped make the Lakers a more cohesive and entertaining basketball team. He’s only in the second year of his four year deal, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t entertain ideas of a trade, as teams have already reached out to them. I believe Clarkson has hit his potential at age 25 and that’s not to say its all downhill from here. He has been great off the bench and showed he can start in the NBA, no question. He brings that Laker’s bench to life and energizes them night in and night out. Unfortunate for Clarkson is that he may be dealt in order for the team to obtain more money to pay free agents this upcoming summer.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was signed this past offseason on a one-year, $18-million dollar deal. This gave Caldwell-Pope the chance to test the market again at the conclusion of this season or if he exceeds expectations the team may opt to sign him to a multi-year deal. He brings a 3 point threat to the team and it’s only improving. He is a two-way guard and has shown he can be a reliable defender. Ideally you’d like to see him dishing the ball to his teammates more, but by no means is he a ball hog. He needs some polishing in terms of his offensive skill-set as well. This young guard still has plenty of potential and lots to prove, but aside from legal issues (violation of probation) that the Lakers knew about prior to signing him, he may very well wind up paying off for LA regardless of whether he stays or not.

Based off these assets the fans of the Lakers have reason to believe and “trust the process” for the first time in a long time. Yes there are a couple of trigger-happy young guns who have a ways to go before being ready to compete for an NBA Championship, but they are still learning as they are a very, very young team. Give them time and the dividends will pay off Laker Nation. For right now I’m just excited to see fun basketball with a dash of hope for the future this holiday season.

 

John Collins Quiet Ascent in Atlanta

By Jack Drapkin

Don’t look now, wait until January or February when the NBA Rookie Ladder is in full swing, but John Collins will find himself comfortably within the Top 10 of that list. You may be saying but Jack, it’s only the third game of the season how can you be so confident. Well for one here’s me discussing the impact I think Collins will have, and here too. But most importantly, in a minuscule three-game sample size Collins has averaged 12 points and nearly seven rebounds on zero three-point attempts a game. The last part is most important to me, as even though I alluded to him adding it to his arsenal, he knows where his game is at and is playing within himself.

On the offensive end of the court, Collins uses his intelligence and athleticism to create openings for himself inside the arc. A capable mid-range jump shooter, he utilizes his pump-fake to drive past defenders and get to the rim. He has also excelled on the offensive glass, averaging 5.5 offensive rebounds per-36 minutes. He has like most rookies do struggled with his ball security in the early part of this season. If he could carry over his offensive instincts and motor consistently to the defensive end of the court, we would be discussing a Rookie of the Year candidate

Still far more confident and comfortable on the offensive end of the court expect Collins to struggle on the defensive end for the remainder of his rookie season. While he has shown activity on that end in the early part of the season,  six combined steals and blocks, he still has ways to go with his positioning and could improve his strength as well. This combined with the four fouls a game he is currently picking up say it will take time, but at least the effort has been there unlike what it was in college.

In short, look now, look later, but Collins will find himself among the top rookies by the All-Star break even if no one is watching the Hawks.

Time for Middleton to Emerge in Milwaukee

By Jack Drapkin

When discussing the Milwaukee Bucks, the conversation rightfully is centered around Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak who will turn 23 in December is the young centerpiece of a franchise on the uptick. However, Giannis needs help and with Jabari Parker sidelined until at least January, someone will need to take up some of the playmaking slack. Some writers are looking towards second-year players Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon to bridge this gap. However, both players seem more likely to stay in their current roles than drastically increase them. This leaves Khris Middleton, now a year removed from a hamstring tear to pick up the playmaking slack.

So why Middleton and not Brogdon or Maker, after all, Middleton is the oldest player of this group and the one who presumably has tapped into his potential the most. A career 40% shooter from deep, Middleton had increased his role each year with Milwaukee before his injury-ravaged campaign last year. Peaking at over 18 points and four assists a game in the 2015-16 season. This numbers should surprise the most ardent of NBA fans, just not the top-notch Bucks fans, I hear ya Milwaukee!

So why will this year be the year for Middleton and the Bucks. Two reasons, opportunity, and health. To the latter, a year removed from the major hamstring injury from last season, expect Middleton to look fresh and re-invigorated at the start of the season. Now as far as opportunity is concerned, this will be the best situation Middleton has had a chance to play on throughout his career. The difference in the level of play that Giannis is playing at compared to the last time Middleton was completely healthy is night and day. The openings created by playing with Giannis are tremendous and will make Middleton’s life easier to pick apart his defender with his old-man, Joe Johnson-like game. Also with the additions of Tony Snell and Malcolm Brogdon, the defensive burdens will be less on Middleton this season allowing him to have more energy on the offensive end.

With Middleton’s 15 points, nine rebound, six assist opening night performance is just the way the Bucks hoped his season would start.

Potential 2nd Year NBA Breakout Players

By Jack Drapkin

With the season starting this upcoming week, I figured it was time to take a look at the rising sophomores from the 2016 NBA Draft Class. A class that by most measures disappointed across the board. Think about this, the three best rookies of last season were two rookies from Philly in Dario Saric and Joel Embiid who were both part of the 2014 draft and the 36th overall pick Malcolm Brogdon. It’s safe to say that the top of the 2016 NBA Draft failed to live up to the expectations that were frankly already set fairly low. So who changes this narrative and steps up as we head into a new season? I attempt to put on ‘Genie’ hat and predict which players are going to take a step forward this season.

Brandon Ingram

Look, the beginning of his career was not pretty. As a skinny nineteen-year-old in the NBA maybe as a collective, our expectations should have been lower. However, they were not and he struggled immensely through early January. Then, something funny started to happen, things began to click for Ingram. His shot started falling a bit more frequently as he became more assertive on the court increasing his scoring from eight ppg before the All-star break to 13 ppg after the break. Many of the same doubters from last season are pointing to a weak pre-season showing from Ingram as a sign that his performance at the end of last season was a fluke. I’d be careful of following that advice, with pre-season games more accurately reflecting that of pick-up quality, expect Ingram to slowly grow into his role this season and be a 15 ppg scorer on a better than expected Lakers team.

Henry Ellenson

After spending one season at Marquette, Ellenson spent much of last season in the G-League with just 19 appearances to his name. So why is Ellenson poised for a bigger sophomore campaign. Two reasons, first he is much more confident with his skills as was apparent with his summer league dominance. If you’re highly drafted 2nd-year player doesn’t dominate in the summer league its a cause for concern. Ellenson, tore it up to the tune of 17 points and seven boards a game. And, I know it’s just summer league but it is still important for his confidence. Second, the Pistons lost Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes this offseason. Two players who combined were playing 50 frontcourt minutes a game. Besides journeyman Anthony Tolliver the only other frontcourt player Detroit brought in was Eric Moreland, Ellenson is due for minutes this season.

Taurean Prince/DeAndre’ Bembry

The Atlanta Hawks are not going to be a good basketball team this year. That’s the bad news, the good news they have a number of intriguing young players including this pair of sophomore wings. Prince, in particular, was able to move into the rotation last season after the trade of Kyle Korver and performed admirably, especially in the playoffs. If I had to pick one or the other it would be Prince who will have the better season. Bembry however, has a unique game, not a great shooter but does everything else well, and is a deceptively explosive athlete who will look to take advantage of the minutes departed by Tim Hardaway Jr. The Hawks are hopeful they have a couple of wings for the future in today’s switch happy NBA.

Making Sense of the Rookie Hype

By Jack Drapkin

For all of the hype surrounding the 2017 Rookie NBA Class, they have yet to play an official NBA game. However, with the success that many of them had in the various Summer Leagues, the hype is certainly understandable. What I find most interesting is who the spotlight has been placed upon primarily.

Sure, Lonzo Ball has the media in a buzz buoyed by his business-savvy, loudmouth of a Father, but he was not the number one pick that was Markelle Fultz. And of course Dennis Smith Jr. has looked impressive and explosive but he wasn’t even the third point guard selected, De’Aaron Fox, or the fourth for that matter, Frank Ntilikina.

Alright, alright, alright what’s the point? Well, remember how excited everyone was for Michael Carter-Williams and Tyreke Evans after there rookie campaigns. Or how about the promise that Jared Sullinger and Iman Shumpert showed early in their careers. What about how promising Anthony Bennett looked in his days for the Cavs. Oh, too soon you say?

Alright, let’s flip that around, remember what a young Mike Conley was like. How about Harrison Barnes in his first year with the Warriors. Point being, many players can have fast starts to their career and stall out, while others struggle initially before finding their footing.

So my advice to all of you whoever you were high on before the draft process and during the summer maintain that faith, no matter the start of the season.

Top LA Laker Stories For 2017-18

By Alexander Lawrence 

1) What can we expect in the Magic Johnson regime this season?

Lonzo Ball has played his first summer league game and although he struggled, in the beginning, to score, Ball capped the summer league off as the MVP. Granted the sample size is small thus far, but Ball does have high expectations set for him, by everyone, especially the Lakers. He was brought in to be the face of the team for years to come. Maybe not this season, but we can expect him to be a nice asset this season and will prove to be efficient in his first season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Magic Johnson has publicly stated that he expects Brandon Ingram, the Lakers current small forward, to be the man this season and believes Ingram will lead the Lakers in scoring. Ingram very well has the potential to be an elite scorer and lead the Lakers in scoring but he has to show more consistency this season. One thing for certain is that Magic is building this team around his young guys; Ball and Ingram. At worst, it’ll be a fun season for a team that could wind up fighting for a playoff berth if they can manage to stay healthy. The youth and talent is there to be a low 8 or 7 seed team.

Jordan Clarkson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be a nice combo to man the 2-guard spot this season. Caldwell-Pope is a guy who has improved his shooting over his first four seasons in the NBA. Let’s not forget his defensive ability and how he’s really made that an identity of his game. If he exceeds expectations he could even wind up re-signing with the Lakers. Newly acquired center Brook Lopez will look to stay healthy and be a dominant center again as we knew him to be in the earlier stages of his career. Lopez could still be a nice surprise and clearly Magic saw something when he gave up D’Angelo Russell over Julius Randle for the veteran big-man.

2) LeBron James to L.A. talks real this time?

After Kyrie took the NBA by surprise and publicly announced he no longer wants to be in Cleveland playing with LeBron, it caused a great deal of commotion. LeBron has always had control of his career and his future was uncertain as he has made his frustrations known with Cleveland’s lackluster moves this offseason. Kyrie Irving wasn’t sure what LeBron’s plans were and didn’t want to be under his shadow anymore so he made the first move. His landing spots are considered to be the Knicks, Spurs, Heat, and Timberwolves, among others.

LeBron apparently no longer has an attractive team to help him win a championship and surely Derrick Rose will not replace Irving’s production in the lineup. Truth be told, LeBron has the chance to be a free agent next season, since he said he won’t waive his no-trade clause in his deal for any team this season, he will almost certainly stick it out in Cleveland for the 2017-18 season. That opens the door for him to play with potentially Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to go with Lakers legend Magic Johnson running the Lake Show. Let’s not forget Julius Randle who still has a high ceiling. Caldwell-Pope and James are represented by the same agent, so the chance they pair-up together with the storied franchise seem even more likely.

3) The biggest concern for the Lakers are the big-men.

Julius Randle had a not-so impressive season in 2016-17, but this offseason he is looking to bounce-back in a big way. He’s been working on improving his conditioning and has reportedly shed 14lbs of body weight from last season. He’s working with a trainer and apparently enhancing his game.

The next concern is Brook Lopez who has an injury history but has proved to be a productive center in the league when he’s on the court. If Lopez stays healthy for the Lakers, he can without a doubt be one of the top offensive scoring centers this season. He was a post-player for quite a while during his career, but his newly utilized 3-point shot has helped him reshape his game a bit and his offensive game could be a dream come true for LA if the pieces all fall in place.

Those are the three stories fans of the Lakers need to be aware of as we head into the end of the dog days of summer. Temper your expectations for Lonzo Ball in year one and see if the big men can pay off this season to help them contend for a playoff berth as this team figures to be a competitive team this year. This season will be key for Luke Walton developing this team to make them an attractive free-agent landing spot for 2018 when LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and Isaiah Thomas can all hit the market.

 

Underrated Summer League Breakout Players

By Jack Drapkin

What an exciting Summer League it has been. It seems like each year the event has more and more attention on it and with the explosion of Lonzo Ball, this year was no exception. With all the buzz on the high-profile rookies, I wanted to take a look at some of the players who may be sliding under the radar.

Cheik Diallo has been balling for the New Orleans Pelicans this summer along with their other roster player Quinn Cook. Both players and especially Diallo look much improved and ready for regular rotation minutes. Diallo has added a great deal of skill to a game that almost relied exclusively on his motor two seasons ago at Kansas. Diallo has had tremendous confidence in his mid-range jump shot and has shown a great feel for the pick and roll/pop game.

Eric Moreland is a name some NBA fans may be familiar with. After spending a couple seasons in the D-league with the Kings, Moreland emerged this summer and earned himself a contract with the Detroit Pistons. His shot blocking ability and quick feet should enable him to see minutes behind Andre Drummond on an improving Pistons roster.

All of the talk this summer around the Philadelphia 76ers has been surrounded on the #1 pick Markelle Fultz. For good reason, Fultz was tremendous in the summer league until his ankle injury. This has allowed the Australian Jonah Bolden to fly under the radar. Bolden has been outstanding on the defensive end of the court with his ability to block shots and create turnovers. If he can become a more consistent rebounder, his defensive presence could become very valuable off the bench for the 76ers.

Jabari Bird and Abdel Nader have showcased great shot-making ability throughout the summer league. Especially with the trade of Avery Bradley, there are some minutes available for one of these two players to make a contribution off the bench for the Celtics this season.

What are some of the players you saw over the summer who stood out to you?

 

REPORT: Lakers Would Pass on Lonzo Ball

By John Camera

According to Bleacher Report writer Jordan Schultz, if the NBA Draft was held today, the Los Angeles Lakers would pass on the player many expect them to select, UCLA Point Guard Lonzo Ball. Schultz notes that the Lakers are very concerned with Lonzo’s father, LaVar, and the impact he would have. LaVar has manifested fame through the success of his son and with Lonzo landing in a prime time destination like LA, just down the street from where he played college, LaVar could have an even bigger voice. Along with this, the Lakers’ front office is concerned with Ball’s on-court game, skeptical of whether he can transition to being a true star at the next level.

While his father LaVar is an unknown, who knows how he’ll act when his son is in the place he’s wanted him to be since the beginning of this process, the Lakers concerns with Lonzo’s game are serious and well-warranted.

Ball does has a safety net to fall back on. At the very worst he projects to be a Ricky Rubio type of player who can act as a distributor and play-maker but does little to create for himself. Rubio as a worst case scenario isn’t very bad and the best case prospects for Ball should excite anyone. He could be the second coming of Jason Kidd or Penny Hardaway if he adjusts well to the NBA game. However, there are still deterrents that could prevent him from getting there.

The two biggest negatives to Lonzo’s game are his lack of elite athleticism and his funky, unorthodox shooting motion. Lonzo does not have blazing speed or quickness like some of his contemporaries in this draft class and it could be a factor that may limit him throughout his career; this isn’t a very fixable issue. What is fixable is his lack of great dribble moves that can separate him from defenders, something he will have to work on if he is to create consistent separation at the NBA level.

The other problem Ball will need to clean up to achieve NBA stardom is his shooting motion, which includes a low release point and may limit his dribble jumper at the next level. Ball will need to adjust the shot to get it to work against bigger, stronger, longer defenders or rebuild his mechanics from the ground up. While he should receive credit for being a solid three point and off-ball scorer at UCLA, he will need to do more, such as building a mid-range game, to become an NBA star.

While these are real issues that may hold Lonzo Ball back, it should be noted that he is still the best option for the Lakers if Markelle Fultz is off the board. However, a player to watch for Los Angeles is Kentucky’s lightening-fast De’Aaron Fox. Fox could transform into a John Wall-type player as he fills out and learns to shoot better and turn the ball over less. As is, Fox is a speed demon with good mechanics, basketball IQ, and defending ability. If the Lakers are going to pick between Fox and Ball they have two choices; go with the potential homerun in Fox or take the safe pick and select Ball.

 

Which Point Guard should the Knicks Take?

By Jack Drapkin

So You’re Telling ME…The Knicks Need a Point Guard?

It looks like Derrick Rose is on his way out of the Big Apple and it is time for Knicks to get a running mate for the Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis. (I know Carmelo is still there, but really c’mon how, how much longer will he be around for after this.)

For purposes of this article let’s assume the lottery plays out true to form and the Knicks select 7th in the draft come June. That means the likely top-two picks, Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, will be off the board and the Knicks will possibly, be left with a choice of Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and De’Aaron Fox.

Look if you were to ask me who’s the most exciting to watch its Smith hands down. With his array of dribble moves, at the rim athleticism and passing ability, he’ll have no problem finding offensive success at the next level.

Ntilikina probably has the best toolset, although he needs the most work. With a giant 6’9″ wingspan, professional European experience, and a solid 3pt shot, you could make a great argument for Frank as the Knicks Point Guard of the future. Not to mention the European connection to Porzingis, not that matters anymore, Pozingod is a true New Yorker now.

That brings us to Fox. I’ll be the first to admit I was not a fan of Fox at the beginning of the year. Sure he was a blur on the court, but he lacked offensive punch and his defense was inconsistent at best. Fast forward to the end of the year and he was not only a speed demon but an offensive dynamo who aggressively took the fight to Lonzo Ball and UCLA to the tune of 39 points.

So what changed?

Well, for one the aggressive play particularly when looking to create his own shot, yes everyone saw it in the UCLA game, but Fox was the key cog for Kentucky during SEC play, not Malik Monk. Fox’s quickness and ability to score in transition will be huge for a Knicks team that again ranked in the bottom-10 in transition points per game.

I also think that Fox’s length plus quickness give him the highest defensive upside of any Point Guard of this group. Yes, Ntilikina is bigger, but Fox is faster and has already shown glimpses of being a defensive pest.

Now the obvious concern with Fox is his jumper. Having connected on less than 30% of his three pointers and with the move to the NBA, three point line don’t expect this to change anytime soon. However, he did show a feel for a pull-up jumper so the spacing that is provided in the NBA game combined with his speed could help become an effective mid-range shooter early on.

The bottom line is the Knicks need to win, winning starts with defense. Yes, he can’t shoot threes, yet, but Porzingis will help cover that up. Fox gives the Garden the best shot at hanging a banner or heck, making the playoffs anytime soon.

Give me a follow on Twitter if this was even quasi-interesting @NBADraftWhiz.