When you look at any sports team, there are several players who truly represent that organization. When you think of Patrick Ewing, the New York Knicks come to mind. Walt Frazier and the Knicks are synonymous with each other, as well.
Even though the Westchester Knicks have seen many players come and go in the past two years, there are a few players who have made their mark in Westchester. None of these players are currently with the team, but those players helped turn this team into what it is.
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Only a couple of players—Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Jordan Bachynski, and Ben Strong— returned the following season. But that’s the nature of the D-League. For most athletes, the D-League isn’t a permanent home. While these players are in the NBADL, they put a show on for their fans.
The NBA D-League is a stepping stone for these players. Before those select players have a chance make it to the NBA, those players carve out their own journey in the D-League. Those players develop a connection with that fan base.
There have been many players who have suited up in a Westchester jersey. With the Knicks entering their third season in the NBA D-League, let’s take a look at the Top 3 players to play for the Westchester Knicks.
Even though there are three players featured on this list, there are a couple of players that deserve to be mentioned.
DaJuan Summers is one of those players. His sample size of games was small. He was added to the team via the 2014 Expansion Draft. Instead of going to the Westchester Knicks for their inaugural season, Summers joined Gran Canaria of the Liga ACB (Spain).
The following year, the New York Knicks signed the Georgetown product. After appearing in four preseason games, he was waived by the team. 10 days later, Westchester acquired him as an affiliate player.
DaJuan Summers started off the 2015-16 season on a great note. During the first three games of the season, he averaged 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in 39.0 minutes per game. Early on, without Jimmer Fredette, Summers was an important piece on the team’s offense.
He was awarded the D-League’s Performer of the Week for the first week of the 2015-16 season, which was also the first time a Westchester Knicks player received that award.
The 6’8” forward suffered a dreadful injury in his third game. He suffered a left Achilles tendon injury and was ruled out for the season. Several days later, he was waived by the team.
If DaJuan Summers didn’t miss the season due to injury, there’s a good chance that he would have received a call-up later on during the season.
Along with Summers, Jordan Bachynski is another player who is deserves some votes.
Bachynski came onto the scene in Westchester in the second half of the 2014-15 season. In his first season, he averaged 6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks in 19.0 minutes per game.
During the summer of 2015, Bachynski was with the Orlando Magic for the Orlando Summer League and joined the Toronto Raptors for the Las Vegas Summer League. He then played a few preseason games with the Detroit Pistons.
During his time in Detroit, he had the opportunity to compete against All-Star center Andre Drummond; something that Bachysnki described as invaluable.
The 7’2” center was without a home for a short time until the Westchester Knicks acquired him.
The strongest part of his game was always his defense, which dated back to his time at Arizona State. Many knew him as “BLOCKchynski” since he was a presence in the paint. He was the NCAA season blocks leader in 2014.
As the 2015-16 season went on, his production on offense increased. His teammates found him in the right situations, which saw him score more than he did previously. Dating back to college, he wasn’t known for his scoring, but this was a part of his game he improved on.
In the first month of the season, he scored in single digits the majority of the time.
There were other players on the team who were relied upon to score and Bachynski was more of a third or fourth option on the team. In the second month of the season, he had a stretch of seven games where he scored in double figures.
The former Knicks center totaled 22 or more points on three of those occasions. Along with that, he posted four double-doubles during that stretch.
His production didn’t go unnoticed. Bachynski was named to the D-League All-Star Game as a replacement. During the 2015-16 season, he averaged 13.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game. His 2.3 blocks per contest was second in the NBA D-League behind Walter Tavares (3.3).
The Westchester Knicks finished at the bottom of the NBA D-League during the 2014-15 season. Westchester managed to pick up just 10 wins during its inaugural season.
After a season like that— losing their final 10 games that season— the Knicks needed talent.
Then, the Knicks were looking forward to the 2015 D-League Draft. The Idaho Stampede had the first pick and selected former NBA forward Jeff Ayers. Westchester was on the clock. With the second pick, the Knicks selected former No.10 overall NBA Draft pick Jimmer Fredette.
Before the 2015-16 D-League season tipped off, Fredette was signed by the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans used the NBA hardship exemption due to the injuries the team suffered.
The guard wasn’t seen in Westchester until the sixth game of the season.
With their 2015 second overall pick not on the team, the Knicks needed others to step up in the scoring department. DaJuan Summers took over the scoring load during the first couple of games before getting knocked down with a left Achilles tendon injury.
When Summers was ruled out for the season, a group of players stepped up.
Nine days after signing with the Pelicans, he was waived. The Glens Falls, New York native was set to make his debut. Westchester started off the season 6-0 and were set to host the Grand Rapids Drive, the Detroit Pistons affiliate.
The Westchester County Center, home of the Westchester Knicks, was ready to see the former NBA guard in action. Fredette was ready to give his home state a show that it would never forget.
The 6’2” guard totaled 37 points, eight assists, and four rebounds in 40 minutes of action. In addition, Fredette shot 71 percent (12/17) from the field in his debut.
Floyd Mayweather, who was in attendance to watch Jordon Crawford, wanted to Fredette to keep shooting.
Fredette continued his productivity throughout the season.
During All-Star Weekend, Canada was treated to the D-League All-Star Game. Fredette, along with Jordan Bachynski, represented the Westchester Knicks in the D-League All-Star Game.
Before the All-Star Game took place, the three-point shooting contest was one of the events that highlighted the D-League All-Star weekend. Freddete, Reggie Hearn, Andre Ingram, Omari Johnson, Nick Minnerath, and Scott Suggs were the participants for the contest.
The six battled with the hopes of proving who the best shooter in the D-League was. When four were knocked out, Jimmer Fredette was still standing. He had only one player standing between him and the trophy: Ingram
Ingram was on fire out of the gate in the finals, as he connected on his first 13 shots. When the final clock hit zero, Ingram finished with 27 points and was the victor.
Then, the top D-League players took the stage at the Ricoh Coliseum. Fredette, like his lone season in the D-League, looked impressive in the D-League All-Star Game. Coming off the bench, he finished the game with 35 points, six rebounds, eight assists and one steal in 25 minutes.
In the process, Fredette won the 2016 D-League All-Star Game MVP award.
The D-League All-Star Game was over. Westchester, New York was his next stop, but he had another destination on his mind: Manhattan. After his performance at the All-Star Game, it was expected that the New York Knicks would offer him a 10-day contract.
And that’s what happened.
On February 22, the Knicks signed the Westchester guard a 10-day contract. The Knicks were fading out of playoff contention with a 24-33 record and wanted to see what Fredette could do. The first chance he had to knock down a shot, he did it in Jimmer fashion.
The crowd was off their feet. While that was a positive since he needed to make the most of the very few shots he was going to get, that turned out to be the only shot he would take in a Knicks uniform. During the 10-day contract, Fredette played five minutes in two games.
Former Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis believed the Knicks were trying to win as many games as possible at that point. There were four guards— Jose Calderon, Sasha Vujacic, Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant— who were taking up the majority of the minutes.
When the 10-day contract expired, New York didn’t offer him a second contract. On March 6, the BYU product returned to the Westchester County Center. When he returned, Fredette returned to a team that was in the hunt for the D-League playoffs.
The Knicks finished the season with a 5-6 record. The Westchester guard looked solid during the two playoff games, but the team was outmatched. Fredette struggled in Game 1 and only shot 6-of-16 from the field. He managed to score 20 points in that game.
When the season concluded, he was named to the All-NBA D-League Second Team. Fredette finished the season with averages of 21.1 points, 5.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in 35.8 minutes per game. In addition, he shot 41 percent from beyond the arc.
In his lone season in the D-League, he was one of the players who led the Westchester Knicks to their first playoff appearance.
The next player on this list embraced being a Westchester Knick, even though its been 20 months since he was a part of their roster.
The D-League isn’t a player’s dream, but it’s the opportunity some players seek. Langston Galloway took advantage of that opportunity when the New York Knicks brought him in as an undrafted free agent in 2014.
New York added Galloway to their Summer League roster. He made the training camp roster, but was ultimately waived four days before the start of the 2014-15 season.
Even though he was brought in for the Westchester Knicks’ inaugural season, he wasn’t the main player to watch when the season kicked off. That honor belonged to Thanasis Antetokounmpo. With the spot light on Antetokounmpo, Galloway had one thing on his mind.
Galloway’s main goal was to prove that he could be a contributor to an NBA roster. He was doing it all for a guard: scoring, rebounding, and grabbing steals. His all-around effort and production proved that he was ready for the next step.
Phil Jackson was impressed by Galloway’s play, but had to free a roster spot to bring him aboard. The Knicks acquired Alex Kirk from Cleveland. That trade sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cavaliers.
Shortly after acquiring Kirk, New York waived him.
It was finally time for Langston Galloway to live out his dream. But nothing changed. His competitiveness was on display every night in Westchester. The only change was the energy at the arena.
“My main focus was going out there and competing and just giving it my all. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accomplish my dreams. I knew, hey, this is pretty much my dream on a plate. I really wanted to showcase what I could do and just play hard, and I think that’s what I went out there and did.”
And that’s what Galloway did. He realized the 10-day contract was the opportunity he needed. He showcased his skills in Westchester and had the oppournity to prove his value in New York. Galloway’s confidence was praised by the Knicks.
Langston Galloway earned a two-year deal worth $10,634,000 from the New Orleans Pelicans. By signing the contract, Galloway is returning home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
While he is no longer a part of the Knicks’ organization, Westchester, New York is a location that Langston Galloway will remember.
This was a hard choice. Langston Galloway could have taken the top spot, but Thanasis Antetokounmpo claims the top spot.
Back in 2014, the New York Knicks were devoid of draft picks. Their first-round pick was traded to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. The Nuggets eventually sent that pick to the Orlando Magic.
Their second-round pick was traded to the Houston Rockets back in 2012 when the team acquired Marcus Camby.
With no draft picks, Phil Jackson found a way to get into the draft. Jackson sent Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks for José Calderón, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Samuel Dalembert, and two 2014 second-round picks. With one of those second-round picks, No. 51, the Knicks selected Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
While Antetokounmpo was on the Knicks’ roster for the 2014 Summer League, he didn’t make the main roster. With the Knicks having their own D-League affiliate that season, Westchester acquired their second-round pick.
Even though Weschester didn’t have many bright spots during their inaugural season, New York was impressed by the 6’7” forward. Antetokounmpo believed he had a great opportunity to secure a roster spot. He turned down a two-year deal worth $550,000 to be in the D-League, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. He showcased his defensive ability, along with his potential on offense.
In his first season with Westchester, Antetokounmpo averaged 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks in 32.9 minutes per game. In addtion, he was named to the 2015 NBA D-League All-Defensive Second Team.
New York brought back their 2014 second-round pick for the 2015 Summer League. He appeared in three preseason games before he was waived. He returned to their D-League affiliate.
Antetokounmpo was one of four players—Jordan Bachynski, Cleanthony Early and Ben Strong— who returned for Westchester’s second season.
From the first season to the second, it was night and day. The Knicks started off the season 6-0 and he scored in double figures in three of those games. One issue that Antetokounmpo had was inconsistency.
He would total 26 points while shooting 10-of-12 from the field. The following game, he would finish with 5 points while shooting 1-of-5 from the field. There were players such as Jimmer Fredette, Travis Trice, and Bachynski were relied upon more for scoring.
Even with that, the Knicks forward was still a contributor to the team. He’s a gifted athlete on both ends of the floor. Antetokounmpo could run the fast break and slam down a dunk in transition.
A week before he received a 10-day call-up, Thanasis Antetokounmpo finished with 22 points and shot 10-15 from the field. He kept showing flashes of offensive ability, which was something the New York Knicks were hoping to see.
The Knicks signed him to a 10-day contract on January 29, 2016. On that same night, he finished with two points in two minutes of action. Two days later, he scored four points and pick up one rebound in four minutes.
New York didn’t offer him another contract after his 10-day contract expired. He returned to Westchester on February 9 to take on the Iowa Energy.
Antetokounmpo stayed with Westchester for the rest of the 2015-16 season. When the Knicks made the playoffs in 2016, he was the only player on the roster who was a part of Westchester’s first game on November 16, 2014.
There’s no question the New York Knicks valued Thanasis Antetokounmpo when the team drafted him in 2014. Even though he was raw on offense, they saw his defense and athleticism as an asset.
The Greek native provided many highlights throughout his career. He had the memory of a lifetime in 2014 when he got drafted into the NBA.