It was Draft Day 2008 last night, and there was a lot of hype surrounding this draft with all of the young talent available. I was excited as a Knick fan, even though excitement as a Knick fan seems like a thing of the distant past.
The Knicks have floundered for the past five years and really became a circus act during the Isiah Thomas reign, but the Donnie Walsh era is now underway and many were hoping he would be able to right the ship.
The draft was Walsh's first test, and he had a bevy of options going into last night. Many speculated that the Knicks would target an uptempo point guard or scoring guard to compliment Mike D'Antoni's run and gun style.
As I sat by my TV with the Knicks' pick nearing, all I could think of was all the disappointing draft picks I could remember: The Frederic Weises and the Maciej Lampes and the Renaldo Balkmans of the world.
I refused to believe they would make such a blunder yet again, but I seem to have had false hope. They proceeded to draft Danilo Gallinari from Italy, a small forward with a long range jumper and decent ballhandling skills for such height.
My only quarrel with such a pick is that they left such proven talent out there on the draft board. They truly do need another guard, and with Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin, and Jerryd Bayless still out there, I thought there was no way I would see them passing up on one of these explosive guards.
I was stunned at the time but realized it is indeed the Knicks we are talking about. As I listened to the Garden faithful boo in displeasure, I also realized I wasn't alone in my despondence.
I really am against the recent craze of drafting overseas players so highly in the draft. There are more busts coming from overseas than those that truly work out, and I do believe that this is a proven fact.
It is so difficult to evaluate how such players' talents will translate over to the American style of play. The Ginobilis, Nowitzkis and Gasols are few and far between in recent memory.
Taking such a raw talent at the young age of 19 is a very large gamble, especially for a franchise whose fans want to see their team making improvements as soon as possible, rather than waiting three years or so for the development of such a young and mysterious prospect.
My vantage point on the dilemma of picking between a college star and an overseas star is simple...always go with the proven talent within the context that your sport is played.
The European style of play is very different from how it is played in the States, and any time a college player has proven himself a force at the upper collegiate level, he should be viewed as a more NBA-ready prospect.
Any of the guards I mentioned who the Knicks passed on were certainly more ready to help a floundering franchise, and any of those picks would have been received with a lot more warmth and excitement from Knicks fans.
While I will still be rooting and also hoping that Gallinari does pan out, I still feel I am hoping against hope. The Knicks have reached for players before, such as Renaldo Balkman just a couple years ago, with one of the best point guards in the nation on the board in Marcus Williams.
The other famous blunder was passing on hometown fan favorite and St. John's player Ron Artest for Frederic Weis. Weis never played for the Knicks and is most notably remembered for being absolutely posterized by Vince Carter in the Olympics.
The front office of the Knicks should have taken this opportunity to draft the safe player, rather than taking another risk much to the dismay of its impatient fan base.
This could have been the first step to restoring the Knicks as a legitimate franchise, but unfortunately I am not convinced this was the right choice.