The Westchester Knicks have greatly improved since their inaugural season. Last season’s team only won ten games, and this season’s team has already surpassed 10 wins. The Knicks managed to leave Delaware on December 26th with a win, which meant the team won 12 of their first 17 games. Not only does Westchester have many new (and a few familiar) faces, this team has many players who are having productive seasons so far.
Westchester’s productivity and success thus far, led by first-year coach Mike Miller, is bringing a lot of excitement to the Westchester County Center. With 2016 right around the corner, here are a list of players who will storm into 2016 the right way.
5. Thanasis Antetokounmpo
Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s offensive game can be streaky at times. When Antetokounmpo has a good game, he will shoot the ball well. On December 18th against the Maine Red Claws, the Greek native totaled 26 points while shooting 10-12 from the field. Three night later, he scored 13 points in the first quarter against the Erie BayHawks. He finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds.
"I think I have the same chance to be in the NBA this year; I mean even more this year cause I’m a free agent and any team doesn’t have my rights," Antetokounmpo said in a recent interview. If Antetokounmpo can work on his three-point shooting (23% shooter from three-point range this season) and stay in a consistent groove with his offensive game, there could be a chance he could find himself on a NBA team next season.
4. Jordan Bachynski
Jordan Bachynski is known for his defensive presence, as he is averaging 2.9 blocks per game, but he is starting to develop an offensive game. In three of the past five games, the Canadian native has scored 22 or more points per game. In a back-to-back against the Maine Red Claws, he posted 31 points, along with shooting 14-14 from the field. The next game, he scored 22 points. Four nights later, Bachynski’s offensive came through again, as he tallied 25 points.
"I spent all summer working on my game," Bachynski said in an interview with David Resnick during halftime against the Erie BayHawks. "One of the big digs on me coming out of Arizona State was I was really good on defense, but my offense was a little bit lacking and I worked really hard this past year and offense to change that."
The former Arizona State product is going to a hook shot more often, which is helping his offensive game. If Jordan Bachynski can be the defensive anchor of this team, along with adding in an offensive game, opposing defenses may need to prepare for the 7’2″ center in a different way.
3. Travis Trice
Just like Jordan Bachynski is known as "BLOCKchynski", Travis Trice should be known as "Mid-range Sniper." Trice can make the mid-range shot look different in today’s game when players are stretching out and shooting more threes.
"Its a lost art," Travis Trice said in an interview with David Resnick during halftime against the Delaware 87ers. "Now-a-days everybody is either trying to go all the way to the rim and dunk it or shoot a three and a lot of teams give you that mid-range, so thats something my dad really instilled in me when I was young was just to get to the mid-range and pull up."
While the former Michigan State product is averaging 13.1 points per game through 17 games (16 starts), he is not an efficient shooter from downtown (25% three-point shooter this season). If Travis Trice can establish a long range game to his offensive skills, the Trice-Fredette backcourt combo would do wonders.
2. Darion Atkins
This may be an odd choice, but it's fairly appropriate. Whether Darion Atkins is in the starting rotation or coming off the bench, he has shown to be effective. Through 17 games this season, the former Virginia product is averaging 9.3 points, 8.1 rebounds per game, and is shooting forty-seven percent from the field. When he comes off the bench, his play sparkens Westchester’s second unit.
Atkins can produce on offense (47% field goal percentage), and can be effective on defense (1.8 blocks per game). When their post players get into foul trouble, the Knicks forward can come in and be an efficient post player. In the past three games, he has posted a double-double.
1. Jimmer Fredette
The moment he stepped foot into the Westchester County Center, he made his presence known. His debut in Westchester was similar to his college days at BYU; Jimmer Fredette shot the ball, and shot well. Fredette wound up scoring 37 points and dished out eight assists, while shooting 12-17 from the field. As expected, he cooled down as opposing defenses started to contain him.
During Wednesday’s game against Delaware, the former BYU product totaled 27 points (12 points in the third quarter) and tallied 10 assists. It’s not to hard to predict Jimmer Fredette will have many games like this in 2016, if he is in a Westchester Knicks uniform. If he continues to show his improvement in the D-Leauge, the talks of Jimmer Fredette playing for the New York Knicks will increase.
If these players can maintain their productivity in 2016, the playoffs are going to be realistic for the Westchester Knicks. Even though the Knicks hold a slim lead over the Maine Red Claws, the Knicks have shown they can go on a run (won their first six games). If the team can produce a similar run in 2016, the Atlantic Division winner may reside in White Plains, New York.