As this season ends, Ron Baker, the scrappy rookie guard, has more than earned his place with the New York Knicks for years to come.
It’s almost seems impossible to give credit to New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson nowadays. It’s probably even more impossible to explain how Ron Baker managed to go undrafted last June considering his contributions all season.
The former standout from Wichita State has won over head coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff from the first day of camp with his smart decision-making at either guard position.
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Baker has played many roles for the Knicks this season. Whether it was supporting teammates from the bench, playing multiple positions on the floor or stepping in as the team’s current starting point guard, he has done the job admirably.
Hornacek praised Baker during a recent interview, expressing his appreciation for the intangibles that Baker brings to the court every night.
“He’s got the size, Sometimes guys get rattled if a team gets physical and they start knocking you around and you’re falling over and doing that driving to the basket and they’re not calling fouls. Ron’s strong enough. He plays through that. He can finish through fouls and grabs. That’s a great skill to have.”
The only issue that will be on Jackson’s mind this off season is what price to pay for bringing back Baker, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. The 24-year old, in a meeting with reporters recently, showed his willingness to keep working to prove himself in the league.
“Some of the things I do in college, I’d probably foul out in the first half, You’re always trying to prove yourself regardless of the situation, It was a similar situation coming out of high school, getting colleges used to the unknown. Getting to this point is very satisfying, but I want more, want to keep improving to see where my ceiling is.”
Baker continues to win over fans with his hustle play and high basketball IQ, but his biggest endorsement may come from a star teammate. Kristaps Porzingis is without question the key to New York’s future, so anything he supports at the point is as good as gold.
He recently spoke with reporters about Baker’s play and even his surprise as to how good the young guard has been throughout the season.
“All I heard was he’s a shooter, Once I saw him play, there were a lot more things that I saw from him: his defense, for example. Nobody told me he’s that type of defender. He’s tough. He will guard anybody. He will fight hard with the bigs. That’s the type of guy you want on your team that plays hard on every possession.”
The season comes down to one game Wednesday, as the Knicks finish up the regular season at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.