Did the Knicks Make Another Mistake?

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: October 16, 2006

NEW YORK � He stands 6-foot 3, he�s left handed, his birthday is the same as mine, December 3rd, but he�s considerably much younger and much more athletic than I can every be, he�s one of 14 players in the NBA with the same last name and his talent level and poise and feel for the game will probably get more than a few GMs around the league fired for allowing him to slip all the way down to the 22nd pick in last years NBA Draft. If he continues to play the way he�s been playing in preseason and all indications say that he will, he can make and argument for First Team All-Rookie honors. He would make a very strong case for Rookie of the Year honors had it not been for the fact that he is being brought along as a substitute to spell a future Hall-of-Famer.

His name is Marcus Williams out of the University of Connecticut; a university that seems to breed outstanding guards year after year. This neophyte has as much poise, pizzazz and court savvy as a grizzled veteran of 4 or 5 years. He�s not blessed with explosive quickness, but his court vision and pass first mentality � he already runs the pick and roll flawlessly � make him the type of point guard you�d go through a brick wall for. His defense will need a lot more work, but that same thing is said about an over abundance of veterans in the league, let alone rookies. Williams even admitted as much after a 111-97 preseason lost to the New York Knicks, �I got us into the offense a little more. On the defensive end I could have done a little better job. I could have made a better effort than I did.�

That being said, one has to wonder if the Knicks and Isiah Thomas picked the wrong player in the 6-foot-8 small forward, Renaldo Balkman out of the University of South Carolina with the 20th pick. One might have to say, �no�. Why? Because, the Knicks already had an over abundance of guards already on their roster and they didn�t see the need to add another. And two of their six guards have All-Star game experience. But, it is clear and evident, neither one in the pact have that, give-the-rock-up-to-make-my-teammates-better mindset.

Perhaps Isiah was trying to avoid the prospect of a quarterback controversy in his first year at the coaching helm for the Knicks. Perhaps he had in mind that he would some how damage the sensitive psyche of Stephon Marbury had he chosen Williams. Or perhaps Thomas was just as mystified by everyone else in the viewing audience when Williams was still sitting all alone with his family in the Green Room (a place courtesy of the NBA set aside�by invitation only–for all potential Lottery Picks and their families.

Williams a Lottery pick in talent suffered for a felonious transgression committed–stolen laptops–while at UConn that got him suspended for nearly half his junior season and scared off more than half of the teams in the NBA�a few that even had multiple picks. He�s very fortunate that he wasn�t kicked off the team entirely. He evidently was reinstated and went on to have a fine season in leading the UConn Huskies to the Elite Eight before they were knocked out by the Cinderella team of the decade, The George Mason Patriots.

Ironically enough, some people have compared his distribution skills to that of one, Jason Kidd, the man whom he will be backing up this season. And one will have to take thought to if the New Jersey Nets somehow start off ragged and sputter out of the gate in the win-loss column�though highly unlikely–could there be a rallying cry from fans and media alike for a flip at the switch between Williams and Kidd. Kidd no doubt is going to Springfield but this is sports and fans have that, �what have you done for me lately� way of thinking. Stay tuned.