Phil Jackson and his plan for the New York Knicks

Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson
Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson

The New York Knicks drafted who? That is what the fans of the Knicks said immediately after the franchise drafted Kristaps Porzingis, a big man from Latvia who few know anything about. The “boo birds” were definitely heard at Barclays Center Thursday night, but the correct reaction would have been silence. Very few have seen Porzingis in game action, and it would be impossible to assess his skill, or lack of, at the moment. But when looking at what Phil Jackson has done not only with the picks in this draft, but the players who were on the team at the end of the 2014-2015 season, all can see the plan of Jackson.

After being selected in the 2015 NBA Draft, Porzingis discussed the conversation he had with the Zen Master when he met with the Knicks organization. “What we talked [about] was a little bit of triangle offense, how it works. He just wanted to explain to me a little bit. He asked me some questions about basketball. He wanted to know my IQ level of basketball and that was basically it,” Porzingis revealed.

Jerian Grant, son of former NBA player Harvey Grant and nephew of Horace Grant, who won four championships under Phil Jackson, discussed what makes him a good fit with the Knicks. “High basketball IQ. The Triangle has high basketball IQ players, and I think I am one of those. I think I’ll pick up on the offense really quickly and help the guys around me,” he said.

We spoke exclusively with Harvey Grant, who discussed some advice he has given Jerian about playing for the Knicks. “Playing here is tough. The fans are very knowledgeable about the game. If you play hard, and make shots, and do the right thing, they love somebody who plays the game the right way,” he said. He also shared why he thinks his son will be successful, and made sure to mention that he wasn’t saying it based on genetics. “His IQ in the game of basketball is off the charts” he said.

The Knicks of last season played well at times because of the unselfish Triangle Offense that was used. Though certainly nowhere near the most talented guys in the NBA, players like Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson played a Phil Jackson style of basketball as cerebral players. That is the way that Jackson and his New York Knicks teammates played when they won championships in 1970 and 1973, the last time the franchise won an NBA Championship.

The Knicks were not going to win an NBA championship in 2016 regardless of who the team drafted with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The right answer isn’t to cheer Porzingis or even to boo him, but to remain silent and see what the man with 13 championship rings has in mind. Drafting and signing talented players with high basketball IQs and tons of potential seems to be a good start, and only time will tell if Jackson is successful based on the potential of the players.

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