The Westchester Knicks season is around the corner and there are many reasons to be excited about the upcoming year. “Tomorrow’s Stars Play In Westchester” is more than just a phrase. Five Knicks have seen action in Westchester, while two different Knicks (Tim Hardaway Jr and Lance Thomas) have G League experience and Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson could see time in Westchester.
1. Development Staff In Place
The New York Knicks have a unique development plan in place. Westchester built an environment where players had ample space to grow and play though mistakes, which translated to NBA opportunities and the best record in the G League last season. Craig Robinson has an innovative plan when it comes to player development, which focuses on on the court and off the court growth. Mike Miller, the 2017-18 G League Coach of the Year, has been a focal point in Westchester’s development the past three seasons and players have taken great leaps under his tenure.
2. Assignment Players
New York has utilized the proximity of their G League affiliate by assigning their young players to Westchester. When some of the young Knicks don’t see much action with the big club, the team will often let them get an extended run with the Dub Knicks, so they can be prepared for when their number is called.
In the past two seasons, Maurice Ndour, Marshall Plumlee, Ron Baker and Damyean Dotson saw time in the G League during their rookie seasons. Isaiah Hicks and Luke Kornet, the Knicks’ first two-way players, started their seasons in the G League and developed their game in the first half of their rookie seasons. Hicks and Kornet were given the opportunity to showcase their skills and improvements in the final stretch of the 2017-18 season.
Mitchell Robinson believes spending time with the Westchester Knicks “would help a lot.” While Allonzo Trier is still on a two-way deal, he's likely to see some time in Westchester. But David Fizdale believes he won’t spend too much time in the G League.
3. Tomorrow’s Stars Play In Westchester
When the Westchester Knicks promoted their new jerseys last season, the team promoted it as, “Because tomorrow’s stars play in Westchester.” New York has shown that they will assign some of their young players who aren’t getting much time in the NBA. Five current Knicks have played in Westchester.
There have been many talented players to put on the Dub Knicks’ blue and orange. Former first-round picks (Jimmer Fredette, Trey Burke, and John Jenkins) have gone to the G League to get a second chance in the NBA. Langston Galloway, the team’s first call-up, bet on himself in the NBA’s minor league with the hopes of earning a call-up and his risk payed off.
Galloway, Burke, Luke Kornet, Damyean Dotson and Ron Baker have previously played in Westchester and are currently signed to NBA contracts. Isaiah Hicks and Devin Robinson are signed to two-way contracts (Robinson was a flex assignee last season). Westchester has created a platform where young players are confident in earning a call-up and will work on parts of their game in order to accomplish their goal. Veteran players have gone down the G League route with the hopes of earning another crack at the NBA.
4. Continued Growth
Four years ago, the Westchester Knicks went 10-40 during their inaugural season. Since then, the Knicks have taken great strides each year as an organization. Westchester has made the playoffs twice in the past three years and have continued to develop their young players for the next step in the professional careers. At least one player earned a call-up each season, along with a G League-high five call-ups last season. With two-way contracts and assignment players, the organization will continue to use their affiliate to churn out contributors for the next level.
5. Talented Squad
The Westchester Knicks have seen countless talented players suit up for the team in the past four season. This year is no different. John Jenkins, Billy Garrett and Paul Watson will be returning to the team for their second seasons and will look to build off their past success with the hopes of securing an NBA opportunity. The Knicks could building a solid defensive squad with Watson, Kadeem Allen, Isaiah Hicks and Devon Baulkman. Westchester has some intriguing players in Tyrius Walker and Jeff Coby to follow this season. The New Orleans Pelicans used the flex assignment rule to assign two-way player Trevon Bluiett to the Westchester Knicks and will bolster the backcourt.