Westchester Knicks: Top 3 Moments Franchise History
The NBA D-League has been constantly been growing since the league was founded in 2001. More NBA teams are seeing the value of having their own D-League affiliate team.
Those that have a one-to-one affiliate utilize the D-League by sending down their players to get more minutes and reps.
Teams such as the Erie BayHawks, the Orlando Magic affiliate, are in the process of relocating to Florida to be in proximity of their parent club. The Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz affiliate, and Northern Arizona Suns, the Phoenix Suns affiliate, already relocated for next season to be closer to their parent club.
In recent years, the Westchester Knicks and Raptors 905 were introduced to the league. Three new teams—the Greensboro Swarm, Long Island Nets, and Windy City Bulls—will be introduced to the NBADL in the 2016-17 season.
Malcolm Turner, President of the NBA Development League, believes that every team could have their own affiliate within five years.
One of those teams, the Westchester Knicks, has been on an interesting journey since 2014. It’s almost hard to believe the Knicks will be entering their third season in the NBA D-League.
This team has seen a lot during that two-year span. The Knicks have lost countless games. There were three players that received a call-up. Two players represented the team in the All-Star Game.
Playoffs? Yes, Westchester hosted a playoff game.
The Westchester Knicks have had their ups and downs during their two seasons in the NBA D-League. With the 2016-17 season on the horizon, Westchester’s third season, what are the Top 3 moments in the franchise history?
3. Making The Playoffs, Part I
The Westchester Knicks had a horrendous first season in the D-League. By winning 10 games in their first season, the Knicks were looking for an improvement in year two. That’s exactly what Westchester accomplished during the 2015-16 season.
The Knicks turnaround started at the 2015 D-League Draft.
With the Idaho Stampede finishing the season with nine wins, the Stampede were given the first overall pick. After Idaho selected former NBA Champion Jeff Ayres with the first pick, Westchester was on the clock.
With that pick, the team selected former NBA guard Jimmer Fredette. Along with adding Fredette to the roster, Jordon Crawford and Kevin Capers were a part of Westchester’s 2015 draft class.
The Dub Knicks started off the 2015-16 season with a bang. Westchester won its first six games, which included Fredette’s debut against the Grand Rapids Drive.
Not only did the former BYU star drop 37 points, but he dished out eight assists and nabbed four rebounds.
That was only the beginning for the 6’2″ guard. Not only did he show improvements in his game throughout the season, but his productivity helped boost the Knicks.
Along with Fredette, there were a few returning players that helped the team.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Jordan Bachynski were two players who showcased their defensive abilities during the season. Bachynski was known for his presence in the paint, as he had the ability to swat away shots at a moment’s notice.
That part of his game was evident throughout the season.
The Maine Red Claws took notice of Bachynski when he blocked six shots against them in December of 2015.
Along with the six blocked shots, the 7’2″ center added 31 points and seven rebounds. “BLOCKchynski” had a solid season, which led to him being named as a replacement in the D-League All-Star Game.
Bachynski, along with Fredette, represent Westchester in the All-Star Game. He totaled 10 points and two rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
3. Making The Playoffs, Part II
The Westchester Knicks struggled following the Showcase. The team ran into a tough challenge on January 29th and 30th against the best team in the D-League: the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Surprisingly, the Knicks had a solid outing against their opponent.
Six days later, the two teams met again. When the final buzzer sounded, the Knicks walked out of the Westchester County Center more confident than ever before. The Knicks won three of four games against the Skyforce. When the season came to an end, the Skyforce had 10 losses; three of those losses were against the Knicks.
While that was the final time the two teams met during the regular season, the two teams met again. This time it was the first round of the D-League Playoffs.
Westchester confident as it entered its first playoff game. The Knicks defeated the Skyforce three times during the regular season and felt like they could knock the 40-win team out from the playoffs.
This time around, it was different. This was a dominant Sioux Falls team that went 11-2 in the final two months of the regular season. The Skyforce were an improved team that had depth, which was beneficial in the playoffs.
April 5th, 2016 is a day that will be remembered by the Westchester Knicks. That was the first NBADL playoff game in franchise history.
With the D-League playoffs being contested in a best-of-three series, the first game was held in the lower seed’s city and the final two games were held in the higher seed’s city.
There were many guests on hand for the team’s first playoff game.
The New York Knicks are known for their celebrity row, but Westchester had its own celebrity row that night. Larry Johnson and John Starks were in attendance, along with former New York Liberty guard Teresa Weatherspoon.
Some of the 2015-16 Knicks players—Kristaps Porzingis, Cleanthony Early, Kyle O’Quinn, Langston Galloway, Sasha Vujacic and Jose Calderon— were in attendance supporting Westchester, as well.
The series started in Westchester, which should have given the Knicks a slight advantage, but that wasn’t the case.
Even though the Knicks were swept by the eventual NBADL champions, their first playoff match will always be remembered. Westchester’s season didn’t end the way the team wanted it to, but the Knicks are hoping the team returns to the playoffs next season.
The first playoff game had a lot of meaning. It showed all the growth the team experienced in the past year. In addition, it showed that general manager Allan Houston added the right players and coaches to this team.
The Knicks made large improvements from year one to year two, so it will be intriguing to see what the Westchester Knicks do in year three.
2. The Inaugural Season, Part I
It’s become more evident that having a D-League affiliate is important and a necessity. All teams have the ability to scout the D-League and potentially pick up contributors.
But having an affiliate gives a team the chance to develop their young players; whether those are drafted players or players who are brought in for training camp and waived.
The Westchester Knicks unveiled their logo, which resembled the New York Knicks’ logo when the team was founded in 1946.
With a historical logo returning to the team, then it came time for Westchester to fill out their roster. The Expansion Draft was the first thing on the Knicks’ list.
Westchester added Jeff Adrien, Craig Brackens, Austin Freeman, Kyle Gibson, Stefhon Hannah, Luke Harangody, Jordan Henriquez, Jordan Henriquez, Richard Howell, Curtis Jerrells, Jerome Jordan, Kris Joseph, Brady Morningstar, Josh Owens, Anthony Richardson, Ben Strong, and DaJuan Summers to the team.
Out of all the players Westchester selected in the Expansion Draft, Strong was the only player that suited up in the team’s first game. Hannah’s draft rights and a first-round pick were traded to the Reno Bighorns in exchange for Darnell Jackson. Morningstar was traded to the Sioux Falls Skyforce for Andre Barrett.
Like Strong, Jackson and Barrett played on opening night in 2014. Summers debuted with the team the following season.
In October 2014, the Knicks named Kevin Whitted their first head coach. Following the 2014 Expansion Draft, the Knicks were one of the 18 teams that were a part of the 2014 D-League Draft.
While the Knicks didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, Joseph Bertrand was the team’s first draft selection. Bertrand was drafted in the second round of the draft. Even though Bertrand was the team’s first selection, he was waived before the season started.
Todd Mayo (4th round), A.J. Ussery (5th round), Sherrod Wright (6th round), Dwayne Mitchell (6th round), and Kevin Tiggs (7th round) rounded out Westchester’s first draft class.
2. The Inaugural Season, Part II
In addition to the Expansion and D-League Draft, the New York Knicks took advantage of their affiliate team by adding their two 2014 second-round picks to the roster. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the No. 51 overall pick, spent the 2014-15 season in Westchester.
Cleanthony Early, the No. 34 overall pick, first appeared in Westchester on January 30, 2015. He only appeared in three games.
In those three games, the Wichita State product averaged 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest. On the other hand, Antetokounmpo spent the 2014-15 season in the D-League.
The Greek wing averaged 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.
The first Westchester Knicks game took place on November 16, 2014. That night, the Oklahoma City Blue defeated the Knicks 91-84. Westchester played their first game at the Westchester County Center three days later, as the team hosted the Canton Charge.
The Knicks suffered another loss at the hands of the Charge, 88-84. Westchester’s first victory in the NBA D-League came against the Grand Rapids Drive on November 21, as the Knicks defeated the Drive, 97-83.
Even though Westchester was an average team record-wise through the first 10 games (5-5), the season went downhill from there. The Knicks started losing countless games. While losing was a negative part during their inaugural season, Westchester had a bright moment on January 7, 2015.
On that day, Langston Galloway became the team’s first call-up. On the day of his call-up, Galloway recorded seven points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal.
When his first 10-day contract expired, the Knicks offered the St. Joseph’s product a second 10-day contract. After looking good during those short contracts, the 6’2″ guard received a partially guaranteed, two-year deal.
Even though Galloway left the Knicks, he is the poster child for the Westchester Knicks.
Galloway went undrafted and had to prove his value in the D-League. He made his way into the NBA via a 10-day contract. Then he proved he could contribute to an NBA team and received a multi-million dollar deal from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Following Galloway’s call-up, the Knicks went 5-35, which included losing 10 games in a row on two separate occasions. In the midst of losing their last 10 games, Westchester made a coaching change. The Knicks let Kevin Whitted go and named assistant coach Craig Hodges as their interim coach.
In the final four games under Hodges, the Knicks went 0-4.
The Westchester Knicks weren’t a good team during their inaugural season. In fact, the Knicks finished with the second-worst record in D-League history. Only the 2009-10 Springfield Armor, now the Grand Rapids Drive, posted a worst record (7-43).
The 2010-11 Sioux Falls Skyforce finished the season with a 10-40 record, which was the same record the Knicks finished the 2014-15 season with.
A few of the players (Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Cleanthony Early, Jordan Bachynski, and Ben Strong) returned to the team the following season.
1. Westchester’s First Call-Up
The Westchester Knicks didn’t have many positive moments during their first season in the NBA D-League. The Knicks lost 40 games and finished the season by losing their final 10 games.
On the bright side, the New York Knicks gave one of their players joyful news on January 7, 2015.
On that day, the Knicks signed Langston Galloway to a 10-day contract. Galloway accomplished his lifelong goal of making it to the NBA after going though a tough battle to get there.
Galloway spent four years at St. Joseph’s University. During those four years, the team had the most success in his senior season (2013-14).
Galloway, along with Ronald Roberts, DeAndre’ Bembry and Halil Kanacevic, led the Hawks to the Atlantic 10 tournament championship.
By winning the A-10 Tournament, St. Joseph’s received an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. That marked the first time St. Joseph’s made the Tournament since the 2007-08 season.
The Hawks run in the Tournament was short-lived. St. Joseph’s was the No.10 sed in East Region and faced off against No.7 Connecticut. The Hawks lost to the eventual champion Huskies in the second round, 89-81.
In his senior season, Galloway was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team. The 6’2” guard finished the season with averages of 17.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 36.2 minutes per game.
In addition, he finished 12th (44 percent) in 3-point percentage during the 2013-14 season.
After spending four years at St. Joseph’s, Galloway went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft. He played with the New York Knicks in the Summer League, but was released by the team before the start of the 2014-15 season.
Eight days later, Galloway was acquired as an affiliate player by the Westchester Knicks.
With the attention on Thanasis Antetokounmpo during the beginning of the season, Galloway didn’t get much recognition. As the season progressed, his production started to increase.
Most importantly, he showcased his ability to finish around the rim.
That was one area of the game that he excelled in during his 19 games in the D-League. He proved that he was one of the tough players that deserved a call-up.
The St. Joseph’s product was getting it done in all facets of the game. He was scoring baskets (16.5 points per game), picking up rebounds (5.9 per game), and getting steals (2.6 per game).
The New York Knicks were in need of help. The team wasn’t producing and their record clearly showed that; the Knicks were 5-32 when Galloway made his NBA debut.
Since the Knicks had no hope of making the 2015 playoffs, New York gave Langston Galloway the opportunity he’d been dreaming of. He took advantage of that opportunity.
In the final four months of the season, he averaged 11.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 45 games (41 starts). Over the course of two seasons (127 games), he averaged 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per contest.
In the 2016 offseason, the Knicks relinquished the qualifying offer to Galloway, which made him a free agent. The Louisiana native signed with the New Orleans Pelicans. The two-year contract will pay him more than $5 million annually with an opt-out, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.
Even though Galloway isn’t in New York anymore, he will be remembered by the Westchester Knicks.
During the 2015-16 season, he made several appearances at the Westchester County Center— opening night and the team’s first-ever playoff game—to support his former team.
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