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New York Knicks Gain Upside with Selections of Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo in 2014 NBA Draft

June 28th, 2014 at 5:22 PM
By Daniel Stack

'New York Knicks' photo (c) 2009, Mike - license:

While they did not enjoy drafting in the first round, the New York Knicks got themselves three quality players in Cleanthony Early (34th overall pick) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51st overall pick) in the second round, while also acquiring the rights to Louis Labeyrie, the 57th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft from Indiana for cash considerations.

Although the chances of these guys being impact players are minimal, they do possess a significant amount of upside, and Early, in particular, is a solid pick.

Early enjoyed tremendous success in his time at Wichita State, with the team going undefeated until losing to Kentucky in the second round in this year's NCAA tournament and finishing the season with a 35-1 record. The year prior, the Shockers made a surprise run to the Final Four with Anthony being a big part of their success.

Early is coming off a season in which he lead the team in both scoring (16.4 points) and rebounding (5.9). Early is known for his boundless energy and versatility. He is a well-rounded, uber-athletic scorer who is actually better known for his tenacious defense.

Antetokounmpo, whose younger brother Giannis Antetokounmpo was the 15th pick with the Bucks last year, is what you would consider extremely raw. And that's putting it lightly. However, the kid has promise— much like his brother possesses.

From all reports, the elder Antetokounmpo will need time to develop.

Via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Six-foot-six Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the 21-year-old defensive specialist whom the Knicks drafted with the 51st pick, may play next season in Greece, where there is interest from teams. He will play in the summer league for the Knicks in July and they will decide if he’s ready after.

The older brother of the Bucks’ Giannis, he played for the D-League’s Delaware franchise but is said to be raw offensively.

So, don't expect Antetokounmpo to making any impact soon.

As for Labeyrie, he, too, will likely need some seasoning. Labeyrie, a French product (I know what you're thinking, not another Frederic Weis!), is a 6'10” power forward/center. At just 22 years old, he will likely play in Europe a couple of more seasons or perhaps be moved by Phil Jackson in separate deal.

All in all, it was a nice first draft for Jackson and company. They got perhaps the best player on the board at the time in Early (who could have easily gone in the first round), while also securing the rights to two intriguing Europeans with upside.

Don't be shocked if Early becomes a major player in Derek Fisher's rotation. He may turn out to be a gem in the triangle offense.

With the trade for Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Samuel Dalembert from the Mavericks and now the selections of Early, Antetokounmpo and Labeyrie, Jackson has only just begun the overhaul of the Knicks' roster. Expect many more changes in the coming weeks, with a lot depending on what Carmelo Anthony decides to do,

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Tags: Basketball, Cleanthony Early, Louis Labeyrie, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Thanasis Antetokounmpo

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