They've got the guy who, until the past college basketball season, was a 1A guy. The good news is, he still is, despite the Summer of Zion. Here's why he's perfect for New York.
There's been two times in history that, under Coach K, a Duke player has averaged a triple double. RJ Barrett was that second time. There's been two times in history that a kid won all the major high school award categories and the national high school championship. RJ Barrett was that second time (first time was LeBron). Trained under Hall of Famer Steve Nash. Lead Duke to a win with a 26 and 14 performance against North Dakota State in the NCAA tournament.
And he was the number three... three... pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Are you kidding me? I'll save you the details as to why this happened. Zion Williamson is a specimen, an incredible once-in-a-generation athlete with some of the smartest baskebtall IQ we've seen in the last quarter century. Ja Morant came out of no where with a mix of wild productivity, multiple triple doubles and a get-after-it speediness on the court. It all makes sense. Williamson at first, Morant at second.
Which is why the New York Knicks, at the third pick, became the luckiest team in the NBA.
How often do you get the no-question-marks, play-making-depth, trained-under-Steve-Nash guy to drop to number three overall? It's a team-changing pick. But that's not all. Ordinarily, and in typical Knicks fashion, we've tanked for almost two full seasons, with little-to-no promise on the horizon, and can't even claim the once-in-a-generation Zion Williamson as the achievement that made it all worth it. I'm here to tell you that's a good thing; in fact, it might be the best thing for the Knicks organization and fan base.
A team needs a why and the guys on the team have to buy into that why.
Zion Williamson isn't a why. He's the number one pick going to a team with more promise than most. They'll be good, competitive in two seasons, and could be in the Finals mix in three or four seasons, no questions asked. But nothing fires a team up like not being favored ever, for anything. That's the incredible opportunity the Knicks have in front of them. The chip on their shoulder. And if we play that way, grab one max guy in the off-season, and find a few role players from across the league that can juice up Barrett, then we have something worth fighting for. And if RJ plays as the guy who went third, knowing he could easily have been number one, the buy-in from the rest of the team deepens. Take Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Walks on not once; but twice to his College teams. Secures the Heisman. Takes the Browns to an almost 500 record after a decade of complete crap. The walk-on. And that entire team has coalesced around his leadership. It's help win big free-agent signings from top talent across the entire league. It's taken them from laughing stock to next-season playoff mix.
RJ Barrett. The walk-on attitude. The right mix around him. The buy-in. Lets see if this miracle can take shape.