Carmelo Anthony being courted by some of the top NBA championship contenders is something we all predicted, but it still hurts too see photoshops of him in a Chicago Bulls uniform and what not. Knicks fans might be seeing the inevitable unfold before their eyes, but there is one person that could really benefit from this move: Cleanthony Early.
The rookie small forward was the 34th draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and landing with the New York Knicks might have been for the best for him.
In a roster full of guards and expiring contracts, Early is the only true small forward, something that could bring nothing but good things for him. Last season we saw how many different lineups had to be put to use when Carmelo Anthony went to the bench for a breather. JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and even Tim Hardaway Jr had to play countless minutes as a three, specially when Mike Woodson decided to play small ball with ‘Melo at power forward. Looking at the Knicks current roster, Early might have to do the same Anthony did for the majority of the season, play his behind off in terms of minutes.
Playing small ball means spreading the defense with ball movement and shooting from the perimeter and the rookie can certainly do that. Playing big means using size and strength to get the ball in the paint and post up, attract double teams and etc – well, apparently the rookie can do that too. Even though he is not the strongest three out there, he certainly has a NBA body, and standing 6’8 feet with a versatile style of play, he could certainly land the starting gig as small forward for the Knicks. As I said, the guard heavy roster can still utilize the 6’5 veterans to fill the gap at the frontcourt, but if Early shows he’s got the skills to play against NBA defenses and learn the offensive system well, he might just be the luckiest rookie of the year and soon become the starting small forward for the Knicks.
Obviously a seasoned and talented player like ‘Melo would be the ideal piece for Phil Jackson’s roster, but even then Cleanthony would be very fortunate, considering he would have the time to learn from the best and get valuable minutes off the bench.
Apparently falling to the second round was the best thing that could have happened to the rookie outta Wichita.