Although the caliber of New York talent in the draft was superior last year, this year's draft yielded better overall results.
Of the NY players that entered the draft and remained, four were projected to possibly go first round. Let's take a look at how NYers faired in the Thursday night's NBA draft.
Drafted #9. Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats) - Representing the Bronx, Walker brings NYC toughness and heart to the Charlotte Bobcats. Although Walker is undersized at only 5'11", he makes up for it with his athleticism, natural basketball instincts and leadership skills. Walker can put up points but will have to become more of a facilitator in the NBA.
Drafted #10. Jimmer Fredette (Sacramento Kings) - Even though the Glens Falls, NY native wanted to be a NY Knick, he was picked up by Milwaukee right after Walker. "The Jimmer" was quickly part of a trade that ultimately landed the sharpshooter with the Sacramento Kings. An undersized 2-guard, Fredette will have to play defense and enhance his point guard skills in order to earn significant minutes on the court. A prolific scorer with unlimited range, Fredette, at worst, can be a lights out specialty player ala Steve Kerr.
Drafted #19. Tobias Harris (Milwaukee Bucks) - Predicted to go #20, the Dix Hills, NY native was picked up by the Charlotte Bobcats but traded to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a multi-team trade. At 6'8" and the youngest player in the draft at 18 years old, Harris is a fundamentally sound player who has a perimeter game as well as the ability to score inside. Harris surprised many at the combine with his vertical leap, but he will need to get stronger to be more effective on the pro-level.
Drafted #44. Charles Jenkins (Golden State Warriors) - Expected to go in the first round, Jenkins surprisingly fell into the second round and was selected by the Golden State Warriors. The Jamaica, NY resident is an undersized but powerful all-purpose guard who can drive, absorb contact and finish. To have longevity in the league, Jenkins will need to develop into more of a point guard and become a more reliable perimeter scorer.
Last year, all of the New York draftees went in the second round or were un-drafted, whereas this year three players were drafted in the first round and one drafted #14 in the second round. Lance Stephenson, one of the 2009 top high school player in Coney Island, NY was picked up 40th by the Indiana Pacers in the 2010 draft. Devin Ebanks also fell to the second where he was picked up by Los Angeles Lakers.
First round players receive significantly more money and have guaranteed contracts which gives them optimal time to adjust and excel in the NBA.
The impending NBA lockout may upset the applecart a bit but hopefully all four New York players will weather the storm and prosper in the National Basketball Association.