Year after year, young prospects head to the D-League following NBA training camp in an effort to develop notoriety for themselves. In turn, their minor league progress over the course of a basketball season adds tremendous credibility to their resume. With that in mind, players don't stick around for very long, even if an NBA deal doesn't come their way. The likes of Jimmer Fredette, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Travis Trice, Darion Atkins, and others have all flocked overseas this year following positive campaigns in Westchester.
Out with the old, and in with the new.
One way for the Knicks to replenish its D-League talent pool is through its training camp cuts. Both Cleanthony Early and Damien Ingles are set to be become full-time minor leaguers following time as D-League assignees last season. If the Knicks have their way, Chasson Randle will also forgo any international offers and head to Westchester as he heals from an orbital injury. Given the type of prowess he showed in training camp, he figures not to be there very long.
The Knicks' efforts to build up its minor league squad continued Sunday with five new selections in the D-League Draft. While some figure to simply be training camp bodies, there are still a few intriguing names to recognize.
The team's first round selection, Max Hooper, is sure to receive a lot of fanfare. As a collegiate senior, Hooper neglected to shoot anything from inside the three-point line while at Oakland. Talk about an eye-opening statistic: the sharpshooter connected on 45%, all from long range. Hooper also boasts a Big Apple connection after spending the 2013-14 at St. Johns. Much like Fredette did last season, Hooper is sure to excite the home crowd with his own respective prowess. It'll be interesting to see if his style of play could potentially fit in the NBA. As the Knicks' organization (NBA and minor league) embraces Jeff Hornacek's run and gun mentality, Hooper could thrive.
Next up is Lasan Kromah, the team's third-round selection out of UConn. The guard served as a role player for the Huskies back in 2013-14, but much like Lance Thomas and Duke, just being part of a high-level winning program says a lot about a player's character. Glue-guys are worth exploring.
Also worth mentioning in Dane Miller, arguably the steal of the entire draft after Westchester plucked him up in the fifth round. An athletic freak, Miller already boasts two years of D-League experience. A former Rutgers product with New York ties, Miller averaged 15.2 points on 53% shooting when given 20+ minutes last season. At 26, however, his time to contribute is now.
To round out the bunch, the Knicks picked up Bobby Ray Parks Jr., the Filipino product that played in the D-League last season. This spunky guard has plenty of bounce and proved last season that he could contribute if given proper opportunities. He plays with a boatload of energy.
While these names won't necessarily be beating down the NBA door on day one, the Knicks have proven to invest and believe in their minor league team. There's a strategy in place, and Westchester has absolutely helped develop and explore different prospects for the big league team. As Langston Galloway and others have shown, the pathway is possible. On Sunday, they gave a new crop of names that very same opportunity.