Knicks, Phil Jackson Stockpiling Young Talent

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In 2013, during the Knicks’ last playoff run, they were one of the oldest teams in the league. They had just four players who had played four or fewer seasons in the NBA, Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni, Chris Copeland and James White. Out of those four, only Shumpert was under the age of 28.

This upcoming year, with Phil Jackson as the president, New York has been attempting to gather young players and hoping that they fulfill their potential. The Knicks are taking a completely different approach from the “win this year” motto of that 2012-13 season. Now, their theme is “win this year and continue winning for many more years.”

Currently, five of the Knicks under contract are entering their first, second, third, or fourth year. This list includes Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larkin, Pablo Prigioni, and Cole Aldrich. Out of those five, four are under the age of 25, with Prigioni being the only exception.

Cleanthony Early was one of the Knicks second round draft picks this year.

Cleanthony Early was one of the Knicks’ second round draft picks this year.

To add to the lengthy list of young guns under contract, three of the Knicks second round picks are all in contention to make the team, including 23-year old Cleanthony Early and 22-year olds Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Louis Labeyrie.

Phil Jackson is motivated to snag as many young players as possible, as he showcased in the trade with the Mavericks. In that trade, the Knicks exchanged two vets with Dallas, but also received two draft picks and a second-year player in Larkin. Shortly after the trade went through, Jackson bought one more second round pick on draft night.

Now, the Knicks may not have the ultimate group of rising talent in the league (that “title” would probably go to the Sixers), but they have set themselves up for success for the long run by reeling in many players with high ceilings.

 

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