C.J. Leslie Will Become a Vital Contributor for New York Knicks

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2013

C.j. Leslie became a New York Knick shortly after being undrafted.
C.j. Leslie became a New York Knick shortly after being undrafted.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

C.J. Leslie did not get to hear his name called during the NBA draft, but he did not have to wait long before finding a home.

According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the 22-year-old will join the New York Knicks after an agreement was settled shortly after the draft.

His seclusion from Brooklyn's selection festivities raised quite a few eyebrows, as Wojnarowski tweeted Thursday that he could go early in the second round.

This is a nice coup for a team that can use all the youth it can find. Last year, the Knicks were the NBA's oldest team and not owning a second-round selection in Thursday's draft did not help matters.

To make up for that, New York found a versatile forward that many, including B/R NBA Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman, thought warranted a second-round pick. Wasserman ranked the North Carolina State product No. 41 on his big board.

The 6'9", 209-pound combo forward scored 15.1 points per game during his senior season on 51.9 percent shooting, adding 7.4 boards and 1.2 blocks per contest. While the Wolfpack suffering an early NCAA tournament loss to Temple did not embellish his stock, Leslie scored 20 points in the losing effort.

Of course, there are question marks revolving around the young talent, otherwise he would not have fallen into New York's lap. His work ethic and motivation have been questioned, but welcome to the Knicks. J.R. Smith was never exactly a teacher's pet, yet Mike Woodson got through to him.

More importantly is the question of his position at the next level. Leslie could get out-muscled playing power forward but lacks the shooting stroke that has become crucial at the 3 spot. 

Still, there's too much potential here to write Leslie off. For all his flaws, he also brings many skills to the table that New York certainly needs. While he cannot spread the floor offensively like Steve Novak or Chris Copeland, he can drive and finish.

He can provide a much-needed spark off the bench with his ability to finish in transition and operate without the ball by slashing to the basket. If the Knicks continue to play small, he would likely serve as a 4 off the bench, where his speed and athleticism could create some mismatches.

Defensively, he can employ his 7'2" wingspan to his advantage, although he must fully harness his athleticism to become a disciplined stopper. If all goes well, he could become a poor man's Gerald Wallace. That is, poor because he was not drastically overpaid.

The Knicks are old and star heavy with no cap space to make any significant moves on the open market. Some unheralded players must rise from the bench to log some precious minutes, and it'd be nice if they weren't all 40-year-olds heaving toward the finish line this time.