In case you missed it at the NBA Draft on Thursday, the New York Knicks made a splash. They drafted a Canadian sharpshooter with no shortage of confidence and expectations to make an immediate impact to the organization.
Oh, and they drafted RJ Barrett, too.
The Knicks' second-round pick, Ignas "Iggy" Brazdeikis, may not have received all the attention that his countryman Barrett has garnered, but that doesn't mean Knicks fans shouldn't know his name. In fact, his coaches say it won't be long before everyone in New York knows exactly who Brazdeikis is.
"Iggy's a passionate, fiery person," said Younis Hussein, who coached Brazdeikis in high school. "He always brings grit to the game, resiliency."
Former Michigan assistant coach DeAndre Hayes says that Brazdeikis' "killer mentality" goes even a bit further:
"No matter who he played against, he just told them, he's like the Terminator - 'I'm about to destroy you,'" Hayes said.
Brazdeikis isn't afraid to express himself on the court, whether it's by flashing his trademark "money" sign after a bucket, or by talking a little bit of smack. Brazdeikis is always yapping on and off the court, but it has a positive effect on both himself and his teammates.
"He's a confident player," Hayes said. "When he steps on the floor, he's going to tell you, 'I'm not going to miss a shot today.' … It makes you feel good when you're around him, he makes you feel confident."
Brazdeikis' competitive nature has never been questioned, but neither has his work ethic. The two go hand-in-hand in creating a player that several of his coaches described as a coach's dream.
"They're getting a kid that's highly motivated to be successful at the next level," said Saddi Washington, an assistant coach at Michigan. "Iggy is an Alpha Dog, and he's really wired to score the ball. They're getting a kid that's willing to put in the sweat equity to be a great asset to the organization."
"No matter what he was doing, he's going to compete against you," Hayes added. "And he wanted to be in first place."
The 6-foot-7, 216-pound forward can finish inside and is an above-average three-point shooter. He led AP-ranked No.10 Michigan in scoring as a true freshman, and became the only Wolverine under longtime coach John Beilein to be drafted after just one collegiate season.
That's right, Brazdeikis is the only "one-and-done" under the Beilein era - not Mo Wagner, Nik Stauskas, Tim Hardaway Jr., or Trey Burke.
The Knicks saw enough to trade up and get him with the 47th pick, and they could have big plans in store for him - they're a little short on wing depth and three-point shooting, where Brazdeikis could be part of the answer.
According to his coaches, defense is his biggest area of improvement. He played power forward in college, but may play more small forward in the pros. To truly earn head coach David Fizdale's trust, Brazdeikis' former coaches have said he'll have to prove that he can defend multiple positions in the NBA.
Regardless of his playing time, Brazdeikis is ready for the pressure and scrutiny that comes with being a New York Knicks draft pick.
"I think being in New York, he's not going to shy away from it at all," Hussein said. "He loves being on big stages."
Brazdeikis and No. 3 overall pick in Barrett have known each other since they were eight years old. There's heavy expectations on the two rookies as the Knicks' roster gets younger than ever, but Brazdeikis' old coach thinks they'll be just fine.
"There must be something in that Canadian water because those kids don't lack for confidence," Washington said. "Between [Brazdeikis] and RJ, I think they'll have New York City well under control."