Since taking control of the Westchester Knicks in the NBA G League, the New York Knicks have utilized their affiliate in different ways. In year one, the organization added Summer League standout Langston Galloway and 2014 NBA Draft second-round pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Though Westchester struggled, the Knicks gave Antetokounmpo an opportunity to develop his skills close to the big club, which
later resulted in a call-up during the 2015-16 season.
Despite not making the big club’s roster, Galloway joined the Westchester Knicks as an affiliate player. He was productive in his minor league stint and soon and earned a call-up with New York. His solid play later earned him a multi-year contract with New York.
In year two, Jimmer Fredette earned two call-ups— one with the New Orleans Pelicans and one with the Knicks. It was clear he capitalized on the opportunity to strut his stuff as a star in Westchester.
Like Galloway, Chasson Randle had a chance to make the roster after shining in Summer League. Unfortunately for Randle, he was waived before the start of the campaign. He stayed with the Knicks’ NBA G League affiliate to begin last season. During his short time in Westchester, Randle scored in bunches while developing as a point guard. He recorded 38 points against the Texas Legends and had a 36-
point performance against the Austin Spurs. Following those performances, Randle soon became the fourth Westchester Knick to earn a call-up.
The big league club has also assigned multiple players to Westchester in the past three seasons. Cleanthony Early, the No. 34 selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, was the team’s first assignee during the 2014-15 season. During the 2015-16 season, the Milwaukee Bucks used the flex assignment rule and sent Damien Inglis to Westchester. Inglis spent thirteen games in Westchester that season. By spending time in the NBA G League, Inglis received playing time he didn’t see in Milwaukee during his rookie season. Westchester also had an opportunity to evaluate the former No. 31 overall pick and brought him back for the 2016-17 season.
Last season, five players (Randle, Maurice Ndour, Marshall Plumlee, Ron Baker, and flex assignee Rashad Vaughn) spent time with the Dub Knicks on assignment. Each player in their own right benefited from the NBAGL stint.
Ndour spent the most time in Westchester. At one point late in the season, Ndour played in five straight days, appearing in three games for New York and two games for Westchester. Toward the end of the NBA season, Ndour proved he had remained ready while developing his game. He was able to produce when New York gave him an opportunity, thanks to those extra G League reps.
Plumlee received quality minutes in the NBA G League and proved he could come through in a minute’s notice. When Joakim Noah was scratched from a Knicks’ game against the Atlanta Hawks, Plumlee had to bride a cab driver and sprint to Madison Square Garden.
While Baker spent 52 games with New York, the young gun still had an opportunity to work on his facilitating while in Westchester. He dished some nifty passes to Plumlee and kick-outs to Von Wafer. His time in Westchester was valuable because it gave him the chance to get quality minutes while learning
from unique real-time game situations, rather than watching for the sidelines.
“It’s great to come down because I get minutes and tomorrow I can clip those minutes with one of my coaches and learn from all the situations I was put into tonight,” Ron Baker said following Westchester’s meeting with the Raptors 905 in December of 2016. “The ultimate goal of me [playing in Westchester] is to stay in shape, learn from everything that I do, and have that translate to the other team [New York Knicks].”
Not only did the NBA team develop their young talent in the G League, but Westchester benefited from having those players on the court. According to Chris Reichert of Two Ways & 10 Days, the Westchester Knicks saw their win percentage increase when the team had assignees on the court.
As Knicks’ President Steve Mills stated during General Manager Scott Perry’s press conference, the organization has utilized their affiliate so far and will try to be one of the best developmental organizations in the NBA.
“We’ve done a good job so far of using our G League team [Westchester Knicks] as a development platform, but we will take a new level of emphasis on that and try to be one of the best developmental organizations in the NBA,” Mills said.
In addition to player assignments, the two-way contracts now give NBA teams two additional roster spots for players they can develop in the NBA G League. While Luke Kornet will spend most of his season in Westchester, the opportunity is there for him to outperform the two-way contract and subsequently have it be converted into a standard NBA contract.
Not only is New York looking to put the best product on the floor at Madison Square Garden, but the organization will develop their young players in the NBA G League for next season and beyond.