Zion could boost Knicks’ prospects
Close your eyes. Imagine, just for a moment, that you’re sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden.
It’s the first round of the 2020 playoffs, and the Knicks are still playing basketball. The lights go down for player introductions. The silence is deafening. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Zion Williamson are lined up on the sideline, ready to make their way to the court.
Irving and Durant are met with heavy cheers as their names are called. But Williamson? The Garden erupts like it hasn’t in years. The runaway Rookie of the Year spent all season capturing the hearts of the Knicks’ faithful. New York basketball is finally relevant again.
OK, open your eyes. It’s April 2019, and the Knicks are wrapping up the worst season in franchise history. They haven’t been to the playoffs in six years, and the consensus No. 1 overall pick just finished playing his first and only NCAA tournament run with Duke.
In a few short months, he could be donning the orange and blue.
Yes, this is strictly hypothetical. Not only are the Knicks not guaranteed the No. 1 pick (they’re tied with the Suns and the Cavaliers for the highest odds), but there’s always the chance Williamson doesn’t meet his sky-high expectations. And the Knicks aren’t the hottest free agency destination.
But what if the Knicks land Williamson and strike gold in free agency?
Even if the latter doesn’t happen, he would be one heck of a consolation prize. Williamson — all 6-7, 285 pounds of him — is arguably the most-hyped prospect ever. More important, he brings hope — something that has been hard for Knicks fans to come by, especially after the franchise traded budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis in January.
Keep in mind: While Williamson has said he would “love” to play for New York, he doesn’t need the Knicks. He’s already his own brand.
The Knicks, on the other hand, need Williamson. For more reasons than one.