The Westchester Knicks have held 28 G League draft picks in their franchise history and have selected 24 players. Only half of those draftees suited up in the Knicks’ blue and orange, while four players have played more than 25 games.
On Oct. 21, 2017, Westchester held the No. 5 overall pick. After the top four teams made their selections, the Knicks were on the clock. With a new core of players, the Knicks had a chance to add a high quality player like the team did nearly two years prior.
With the fifth pick in the 2017 G League Draft, the Westchester Knicks selected Paul Watson. During his tenure in Westchester, Watson showed that he could be a solid 3-and-D player who consistently was a defensive presence every night.
He was a reliable defender on a successful team that made two postseason appearances and took on tough defensive assignments like in the team’s first round playoff game against the Windy City Bulls. While he didn’t need the ball in his hands, Watson showed that he could be a capable scorer.
In Five On Five with Paul Watson, he discusses how important the G League Draft was for him to get an opportunity and if he feels he started out his professional career in a great place with the Westchester Knicks.
Chris Priczak: You’ve played in 87 games (Note: played 98 total games) since being drafted. How do you feel the draft was an important avenue for you to showcase your skills and get that opportunity here?
Paul Watson: “That draft was pretty cool. Being able to just be wanted. Be able to come into here, find my niche, and try to work & try to help this team win. It’s kind of crazy. 87 games. That’s a lot of games. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. I’m definitely blessed to be here and just trying to work each and every day and trying to find my way to that next level.”
CP: What does it mean for you to have this organization invested in your development early in your career?
PW: “It meant a lot. Them picking me that high just shows that they believe in me. They believe I can do a lot of different things and I’m appreciative of that. I’m just trying to go out here and showcase those things. And like I said, figure out what I got to do to get to that next level.”
CP: Do you feel you have started out in a great situation early in your career where you have seen the success that this team has built development wise, along with churning out players for the NBA and their professional career?
PW: “Definitely. I feel like I’m in a really good place. Westchester has a great staff. Coaches like Keith Bogans. That’s really my guy who I rely on and he teaches me a lot of different things. I feel this is a great place for me to continue to better my game and continue to just get better and push me to that next level.”
CP: Out of the 12 draft picks that this team has had so far, only four played have played more that 25 games. Do you feel there is still value in the draft where it can present you those opportunities to really show what you can do coming out of college, along with finding those players like yourself who can contribute on these teams?
PW: “Definitely. There’s a lot of guys that come out of college who don’t get drafted in the league and this is another avenue of trying to get to the NBA. This is another place where you can showcase your talent night in and night out in front of NBA scouts. A lot of guys think, ‘I got picked in the G League draft,’ but if you come with the right mind set; anything can happen. As long as you just come in with the right mindset and you come in willing to work and get better and learn, the sky’s the limit.”
CP: Right now, you’re at third most games played in franchise history and will likely get up to No. 2. What has this organization meant to you over the past couple of years?
PW: “It’s big. I couldn’t be in a better place. I’m in one of the best places in the G League. The environment overall and everybody in the organization. It’s a great group of people. They do nothing but try to put me in the best situation. I’m truly grateful for that. I wouldn’t want to be with any other spot.”
Out of the 26 players selected in the 2017 NBA G League Draft, Paul Watson ranks at the top in many statistical categories.
2nd most games played
3rd most rebounds grabbed
3rd most shots blocked
4th most steals
5th most points scored
6th most assists dished
Out of the 14 players that have played at least 40 games over the past two seasons, he is third in three-point percentage and ninth in field goal percentage.
Out of the 12 players Westchester drafted, Watson is first in games played, rebounds, and blocks. He is third in total points scored and steals.
After getting an opportunity to start out his professional career with the Westchester Knicks, Watson showed that he could be a high level defender who was a valuable contributor for the past two seasons. He showed that the G League Draft can give players an additional avenue to start out their professional career, while working towards their goal of making an NBA roster.