It would be easy to understand why the average Knick fan may find it difficult to get into this Thursday’s NBA draft. For starters, the lack of a first round pick (for now) is discouraging. Here you are, having sat through an entire season of false hope and empty dreams and you can’t even get excited about a big time college star to come help lure Lebron or another free agent to the Garden. It’s enough to make a Knick fan not bother watching on Thursday night and turn on a rerun of The Office or 30 Rock instead (and I wouldn’t judge either, those shows are fantastic).
But, on the other side of that coin is a much more intriguing way to look at Thursday night. With free agency less then ten days away, and with it a new era in Knick basketball, could this be one of the most important drafts in recent Knick history?
Lets use the dream scenario- Lebron James ditches Akron and signs with the Knicks. Playoff contender right away? Absolutely. NBA championship contender? Maybe not. We saw in Cleveland that James and James alone does not guarantee a trip to the Conference Finals, much less the NBA finals. The Cavs just weren’t made for playoff basketball. They didn’t have enough depth. They didn’t have enough non-Lebron scoring options. And they didn’t have a contingency plan.
When Lebron stunk, the team lost. When Lebron was contained, the team lost. This isn’t the formula for winning games in the playoffs. The Knicks need to look at what the Cavs did with its non-Lebron roster and do the opposite. That doesn’t stop at a second max-contract free agent either.
Unless the summer is a disaster or the Knicks select the ultimate diamond in the rough, no one drafted by the blue and orange is going to start this season, or even play critical minutes. But what they can do is play a role that every championship needs – the energy boost. This is a guy that you can entrust to play a few minutes here and their and not ruin a game. It doesn’t sound like a lot, buts it’s a key element to a championship team.
When analysts and GM’s talk about a “complete team”, they aren’t talking about superstars. They are talking about guys who can come of the bench and, not only hold down the fort until the starters return, but actually make a legitimate contribution as well. Superstars may get you to a championship, but those are the guys who win them.
If Lebron doesn’t come and/or the Knicks don’t open up 2010-2011 with an “automatic Finals contender”, the draft becomes even more important. That role that Thursday night’s picks are asked to play may be just a little bigger.
Donnie Walsh knows this. He knows the value of the draft and what this years crop of new Knicks could mean, with or without Lebron. So before you start planning altunitive viewing for Thursday night think about recent NBA champions and the importance of players who weren’t considered superstars, but rather “nice” players. Those are the kind of players the Knicks need to look for on Thursday. It could be the difference between a championship and well, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
About the Author
Written by Jordan Lauterbach
Jordan Lauterbach began his career in sports media when he was just 15 years old at WKWZ - Syosset. He hosted a sports talk show for nearly four years before moving on to WCWP - Brookville in 2006. Lauterbach currently hosts a sports talk show every Wednesday night from 9pm - midnight (eastern) and a College Football talk show on Saturday mornings from 11am - 12:30 (eastern) (can be heard online at wcwpsports.com and on Long Island on 88.1fm). Follow me on twiiter: jlauterbach1