The NBA is full of 'what ifs?', particularly when it comes to the draft process.
Look at Stephen Curry; the Minnesota Timberwolves chose two point guards before Stephen Curry - yes, two - meaning the now first-ever unanimous MVP ended up going as the seventh pick to the Golden State Warriors.
Imagine how different the landscape of the NBA would be today had Curry headed to Minnesota and one of Ricky Rubio or Jonny Flynn had made their way to the Dubs. Would the Warriors be in a prime position to retain their Larry O'Brien Trophy? Would the Timberwolves have ever sunk to the levels that has seen them construct the most exciting, young roster in the NBA?
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New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has presented another glorious 'what if' scenario. What if the L.A. Lakers - where he won five NBA championships - had taken Kristaps Porzingis as their number two draft pick last year and not D'Angelo Russell?
Jackson, who is engaged to Lakers part-owner Jeanie Buss, insists that if the Lakers had listened to him last summer, they would know the answer to that question.
Jackson said: “We knew that [Porzingis] had a lot of talent. We saw that even in the workout with him shooting, and I had some fun with one of the Buss guys and I told him after [our] workout, ‘You guys are going to be sorry if you don’t pick up Porzingis with the second pick.’ They didn’t, we did.”
Of course, Jackson's Knicks snagged the 7'3" forward with the fourth overall pick and Porzingis became an overnight sensation in the NBA.
At just 20-years-old, he managed to record 21 double-doubles last season, which could have been more had he not missed the franchise's final seven games. He also had the fourth highest selling jersey in the league, only behind Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Well established stars like James Harden and Kevin Durant trailed in his wake. On the other hand, Russell had a very up and down season on the west coast. The point guard showed flashes of his talent, but off the court immaturity that reportedly splintered the Lakers locker room seemed to overshadow his debut campaign.
Ongoing issues with then-coach Byron Scott didn't help either. Scott suggested that the reason the Lakers passed on Porzingis was because the power forward looked out of shape in his L.A workout.
Talking in an MSG Network special, Jackson refuted those claims and insisted the European export's performances in the summer league were totally on the contrary.
“Watching him in the summer league, we thought he was really competitive, that’s what we wanted to see in the tapes study we did,’’ Jackson added. “But when we saw that he had the stamina to play 28 to 32 minutes, well, we thought maybe he was going to be a 20-to-22-minute guy because of his strength and his lack of size or weight. But we knew how competitive, and what an athletic talent he was, really to be able to have that stamina.’’
Who do you think got the better end of the deal, the Lakers or the Knicks?