In late January, the Westchester Knicks raised a banner honoring all their previous call-ups. Kadeem Allen was the recent name added, while John Jenkins was the last Westchester Knick to earn a call-up. Both Allen and Jenkins earned praise from New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale with how the Westchester coaching staff, including head coach Mike Miller, prepares players for the big stage with the big club.
Westchester has shown to prepare their players for NBA opportunities since seven of their 12 call-ups have come from their G League affiliate. Westchester still has an open spot on their call-up banner, and a current player is looking to put his name on the list. He feels confident that the organization is putting him in the best position to success based off the track record the team has built the past five years.
“From top to bottom, it’s just a great organization all the way around,” Billy Garrett said last season. “From coaches to the staff to everybody, the players. They really prepare us to go out here and be successful. Everything we learn here I think can translate to any franchise (and) any team. They put us in a position to be successful and show us where we need to improve.”
“It’s not an accident that a lot of guys come out of here successful wherever they play next because they teach so well here,” he continued. “You learn a lot. It’s just been half way through the (2017-18) season and I’ve learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about my game and have been able to improve my game since I’ve been here, so I’m thankful for that. Everyday I think about how lucky I am to be able to start out my career in Westchester with the coaches and with the staff they have. It’s a great opportunity.”
Since joining the team as a tryout player, Garrett has consistently improved his game. Garrett started his tenure as the first guard off the bench who played off the ball. His value off the bench was signifiant and his impact on the team increased when the roster started to shake up.
In the recent stretch of games, the Westchester Knicks have seen some of their top players transferred to the big club or earn a call-up. That opened up opportunities in the backcourt and Garrett continues to take his game to another level. He is the main orchestrator in the starting rotation and has been more efficient with his shot.
Garrett is a solid mid-range shooter and can drain pull up jumpers on the dial. When he’s getting to his spots, the Westchester guard is difficult to stop.
Garrett was working the two-man game well and Long Island didn’t have an answer for that. When working a side pick-and-roll with Stephen Zimmerman, he got to one of his efficient spots on the court and drained an elbow jumper.
While Garrett isn't known for his perimeter game, it’s a part of his game he has improved on as his second season progressed. He shot a low 15.0 percent from deep in November and saw that percentage rise to 38.5 percent in February. While five games is a short sample this month, the second-year guard is making three triples a game and looks more confident with his perimeter shot.
Garrett has come up strong in late moments of a quarter or game for Westchester. He made huge free throws against the Long Island Nets. In the final play of the third quarter against Long Island, Garrett switched onto Dzanan Musa and got him with a crossover then hit a jumper.
Later in the game, Garrett locked down Jordan McLaughlin on the defensive end, which lead McLaughlin to miss the step-back jumper. In a game against the Greensboro Swarm, he trailed Cat Barber on his drive to the basket and blocked his shot.
He continues to use his energy on the defensive end to force turnover and create offense for Westchester. Garrett swiped the ball away from Brandon McCoy then Kadeem Allen dished it to him and he finished with a euro step for the score.
Even when Garrett misses a shot, he continues to keep his energy flowing on the court and hustles back to force a steal.
Whether Garrett is in the starting rotation or coming off the bench, he continues to excel in his role. He performed well as the lead guard in the second unit and seized his opportunity as a starter to where he is an NBA call-up candidate. Westchester head coach Mike Miller noted his basketball IQ and consistency in improving his game to his recent success.
“I think he came to us with a good basketball IQ, which obviously he’s got a great work ethic,” Miller said. “He has a very good feel for the game and since he’s been here, every day he’s trying to get better. He watches film every day. He wants to see the things that he needs to do better. He recognizes if he’s not doing something well. He wants to do it well. I think it’s allowed him to keep moving and things kind of fell into place. It was his kind of game. He got shots that are his shots and he played very well.”
Garrett has come a long way since making Westchester’s 2017-18 roster as a tryout player. He has suited up in the second most games in franchise history and is in the top five in several franchise records like points and assists.
The DePaul product has continued to grow his game and takes it to a higher level when his role increases. Westchester has shown to put their players in the best position to earn call-ups and advance their professional careers. Garrett may be the next Westchester Knick knocking on the door of the NBA.
External links: Billy Garrett Twitter thread