Thursday afternoon, I looked through a bunch of NBA mock drafts. Notre Dame stars Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton were listed in most if not all of these projections. In many drafts, the Washington Wizards took Grant with the nineteenth pick. As fate would have it, Jerian was picked nineteenth. As fate would unfortunately have it, the Wizards traded the rights to that pick. Instead of playing with young stars Bradley Beal and John Wall, Jerian Grant would be taking his talents to the New York Knicks.
This is not the outcome that most of us hoped for, reasoned, or considered. The Knicks were bad enough to secure the fourth pick in this year's draft. While we all regarded Jerian Grant very highly, the basketball world made it seem due to a combination of factors (talent, skills, age, perception, and the other players also entering the draft), he would be drafted by a mid-to-higher-tier playoff team. For the Wizards, he could have been their third guard to shore up their bench and avert disaster if Beal or Wall went down with injury. For the Rockets, he could have complemented James Harden while pushing a forward-thinking offense. Now, with the Knicks, he can, um, well. . . triangle, and cap space, and sometimes Taylor Swift and Ben Stiller watch you play.
For a long time, the Knicks have been a big dumb franchise that has often been an affront to basketball contest and operations. However, in the NBA (like life), there are no absolutes. Somewhat recently, even the big dumb Knicks stumbled into a crazy efficient two-PG offense that took them to a fifty-four win season. They are not going to replicate that season next year (Jared Dubin points out that the average leap for a team in the Knicks' range is about ten wins) but they should be better.
The Knicks wanted Jerian Grant for his vision. In college, he was a great pick and roll handler, but Phil Jackson's mythic adherence to Tex Winter's system seemingly will de-emphasize that. Luckily, Derek Fisher is more than willing to shape shift (maybe even parallelograms and pentagrams). This happens when the Knicks might actually win or when Alexey Shved is having a career night against the Spurs. There could be a Knicks 2015-2016 road trip where Coach Fisher, far from the influence of Jackson, lets Grant and Kristaps Porzingis run pick and pop with wild disregard for shapes. At this point, the triangle is more narrative than system. If by some Phil Jackson red priestess blood magic, the Knicks completely abandon any pick and roll and move exclusively to triangle reads each offensive possession, I have faith in Jerian's basketball sense and court vision that he can make the best of it.
You might still be on the fence, which is fine. You are not making the conscious choice to watch the Knicks play on late autumn week nights like some very foolish people are ("Hello, my name is John. . . and I'm a Knicks fan."). Perhaps you watched this year's NBA finals and heard about the amount of former Knicks playing on contending teams. Grant can play well, the Knicks can be atrocious, and somehow Grant will be moved to a wonderful situation that will let him reach his potential more than the Knicks could. Jerian Grant will be great. Maybe this greatness will be with the Knicks (I hope this is the case), but maybe it will come with another team. This past Notre Dame basketball season taught us many things. One of its biggest lessons is that Jerian Grant can play basketball at the highest level.
I turn quickly, as not to shortchange Pat Connaughton. As note officially by CW here and Joe Schu for weeks prior to the draft, Pat had sort of been the worst kept secret in the draft. His athleticism and game were intriguing to GMs, so if the bees didn't buzz too loudly, he might be drafted with a lower pick and be considered a steal. Connaughton was taken forty-first and packaged with Mason "Plums" Plumlee in a deal for Steve Blake and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Reactions are mixed from NBA observers and Portland fans right now, but Brandon Goldner of Blazer's Edge stopped by in our comments to explain some of this reaction.
Connaughton will find a way in Portland. Ideally, he will find his way so well, that Voodoo Doughnuts gives him free doughnuts for life, that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein give him an extended cameos in the next season of Portlandia, that he then gets really into Sleater-Kinney after buying a vinyl boxset, and he changes the background images on his computer and phone to pictures of Portland's world-renowned gardens. Meanwhile, he puts up great per-36 stats, shoots lights out, and slowly begins to convince fans that his presence is a gift rather than a gamble.
So with this, we say farewell, Pat. Farewell, Jerian. May your futures be bright and may the roundball ever rock.
With all the talk about this week's NBA draft, it is a good thing there was not some wild story involving a college football strength coach, a player's father, the authorities, a record label where the executive producer is all up in the videos/ all on the records, and kettlebells. Oh, what's that? Diddy got into a situation at UCLA? Shutdown Fullcast even dedicated a whole episode to it.
I don't play the stock market because 1). the safest place for my money is under my mattress but above my boxspring and 2). I had two Rage Against the Machine CDs once. If I did, I would hope it operates mostly how Dan and Ty present it on this week's edition of The Solid Verbal.
Matt Hinton gets into the tolls of realignment on Southern Miss over at Grantland.
ICYMI ON OFD
It was a HUGE week for NBA draft coverage here at OFD. Take a walk down memory lane and checkout profiles for Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton, relive the highs of the draft in our open thread, and catch up on where the guys ended up.
There wasn't only basketball, though. I hope you are a smash mouth fan, because we're getting down to brass tacks about running the dang ball. I didn't mean to confuse you if you are a fan of the band Smash Mouth. There are no "All-Star" or "Walking on the Sun" videos in the previous link.
Golson to Prosise looks even better in animated form, as Paint continues zooming and cartooning through the top five plays from last football season.
Notre Dame received two commitments since we last spoke - One whose last name will be familiar to Irish fans and Counting Crows fans. One whose name is BROCK which is a strong name that is not used enough these days.
Could 2015 be the year where Notre Dame's special teams are actually. . . special?
Maybe you don't get excited for three stars. Well, buddy, Orion's Belt has three stars and that's an essential part of the constellation. What I am saying, is that you read this and learn when and how to trust the coaches regarding recruiting.
How did last weekend's Irish Invasion go? Click this link to find out!
IRISH LINKS OF NOTE
Notre Dame target Parker Boudreaux will announce his college decision on July 2nd on Bleacher Report. If he commits to Notre Dame, it would beef up the next offensive line class. If he doesn't, you have the July 4th weekend to look forward to. That's what I call a chill sitch.
SI's Andy Staples answers a question about what team from outside last year's CFB Playoff Committee Top 25 could be in next year's Playoff. Any guesses? Here's a hint: this link is not in the general CFB links section.
Brian Kelly threw out a first pitch for the Red Sox. Brian Kelly also threw out a first pitch for the Cubs and sang during the seventh inning stretch. Coach Kelly might want to cool it on the pitches, as he's starting to remind me of my cousin who picked the Red Sox as his "other baseball team" at a very opportune time in the Red Sox history. I'm just saying that if Coach Kelly shows up to an Astros game or Cardinals game in the next few weeks, he might have to think about what baseball really means to him.
Here's Jerian Grant throwing a first pitch at Friday night's Mets/ Reds game.