Westchester Knicks: Recap Of 2017

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2017 was quite the year for the Westchester Knicks. 35 players suited up in the Dub Knicks’ orange and blue. That includes seven players who were assigned to the team (Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour, Marshall Plumlee, Chasson Randle, Damyean Dotson and Joakim Noah).

The team watched the departure of Bryan Bailey, who spent one year as an assistant coach. With Bailey joining the Salt Lake City Stars in the same position, Westchester  added two new assistant coaches in Ross McMains and Keith Bogans. McMains was an assistant coach for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season, while Bogans brings 13 years of experience as a player. The Kentucky product played with Westchester during the 2015-16 season. The organization brought in Craig Robinson to be the VP of Player Development & G League Operations.

The Westchester Knicks started 2017 with a 10-7 record. 10 days into the new year, Chasson Randle became the fourth Westchester player to earn a call-up. Randle signed two 10-day deals before agreeing to a multi-year deal. While his time in Philadelphia didn’t last long, his journey had come full circle. Four days after being waived, the Stanford product signed with the New York Knicks.

The Westchester Knicks picked up their first victory of the season against their division foe, the Maine Red Claws. The organization boasted one of their best defensive performances of the season by holding their opponents to a season-low 78 points.

Westchester split their games at the 2017 NBA G League Showcase. In their first game against the Erie BayHawks, the Dub Knicks were led by Von Wafer’s performance off the bench. In 28 minutes, Wafer finished with 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Five players scored in double figures. Courtney Fells fell short of posting a triple-double (23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) in the team’s second Showcase game against the Canton Charge.

In February of 2017, a fan-favorite player departed the team through a trade. Jordon Crawford, who spent 78 games with Westchester, was traded to the Canton Charge. Crawford has a significant impact on the court during his tenure with the Dub Knicks.

On Mar. 14, John Jenkins tied a then-franchise high in points per game by scoring 40 points against the Long Island Nets.

Before the final game of the season, Keith Wright, Kevin Capers and Travis Trice thanked the Westchester fans. Westchester finished the season with a 19-31 record.

During the 2017 offseason, 12 players on the 2016-17 roster signed overseas. Those players were Travis Trice, Doron Lamb, Nikola Jovanovic, Devondrick Walker, Keith Wright, Kevin Capers, Von Wafer, Jaylen Bond, Courtney Fells, Jarelle Reischel, Chasson Randle and John Jenkins. Randle signed with Real Madrid in October, while Jenkins joined San Pablo Burgos in Spain in November.

With the start of the 2017-18 season, there were many new additions to the NBA’s minor league. In June, the league was rebranded to the NBA G League following a sponsorship with Gatorade. Four months later, the Westchester Knicks unveiled their new Nike jerseys, which resembles their parent club’s team.

Along with the rebrand, the G League made several new additions to the league. One of those additions was the two-way contract. The two-way deal adds two additional roster spots for each team. Shortly after the NBA Draft, Luke Kornet agreed to a deal with the big league club.In early July, he inked his two-way contract with New York. In late October, New York announced the addition of their second two-way player, Isaiah Hicks.

On Oct. 21, Westchester selected six players in the NBA G League Draft. The team selected Paul Watson with the No. 5 overall pick. With their next selection in the second round, Hanner Mosquera-Perea was drafted by the team. With three selections in the third round, the Dub Knicks drafted Princeton Onwas, Jordan Downing and Davon Hayes. With their final selection in the draft, Westchester added Henry Uwadiae to the roster.

Out of the six players drafted, Watson, Onwas and Downing suited up for the Knicks. Only one returning player (Max Hooper) made the team’s opening night roster. Hooper played in one game before getting waived.

With a revamped roster, the team had 12 new faces with six of those players being rookies. The rookies consisted of two affiliate players (Nigel Hayes and Xavier Rathan-Mayes), two two-way players (Isaiah Hicks and Luke Kornet), one drafted player (Paul Watson), and one tryout player (Billy Garrett). Outside of rookies on the team, the organization brought in a young player with NBA experience that has the potential to earn a second opportunity in the NBA in Trey Burke.

Through the first two months of the season, Westchester has shown to be road warriors. The Knicks have the second best road record in the G League with a 8-2 record. The Dub Knicks started the season on the road by playing their first three games in Illinois and Delaware. Westchester picked up a victory on opening night against the Windy City Bulls behind a near triple-double behind Xavier Rathan-Mayes. The victory on opening night marked the franchise’s first win over Windy City.

In the second game, Westchester had a hard fought battle against the Delaware 87ers. Not only did the Dub Knicks get a victory against the Sevens, but Trey Burke set a franchise record in points in a game.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Trey Burke told KnicksJournal.com on achieving the record. “There’s a lot of great players that’s came through the Westchester Knicks organization. For me to do that in my second game, I feel honored. But at the same time, the biggest win from that night is that we won and that’s the most important thing.”

The following game, the Knicks picked up another victory over the 87ers on a near double-double from Nigel Hayes. Hayes finished with 37 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

A day before the team’s home opener, Xavier Rathan-Mayes challenged first-year assistant coach Keith Bogans to a game of one-on-one. The Westchester guard detailed the background of the challenge and if Bogans accepted.

“Me and coach [Bogans] just been kind of been going back and forth,” Rathan-Mayes told KnicksJournal.com in November. “We’re two super competitive guys. Obviously I know he was a really good defender in the league for a long time. 11-plus years. He did a lot of special things in the league.”

“I’m the type of guy that I love challenges. If he’s considered one of the best defensive guys, I want to take on that challenge. He told me he needs about a week and half. I go down to Canada basketball for I think eight days. And he said the Saturday that I get off the plane, that’s when we’re going to play. So I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. And hopefully I’m going to put an end to his one-on-one career on that day,” Rathan-Mayes continued.

In the team’s home opener on Nov. 10, there was a new face in the commentary booth. Along with David Resnick, who has been covering the team since the inception in 2014, New York Liberty legend Teresa Weatherspoon joined the commentary team.

Later in the season, it was announced that Weatherspoon was one of 16 women nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Her resume speaks for itself. A eight-year veteran in the NBA, Weatherspoon in a four-time WNBA All-Star and 2× WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.

During the team’s home opener, a few familiar faces were in attendance at the Westchester County Center. Tim Hardaway Jr, Frank Ntilikina, Courtney Lee and Kyle O’Quinn came in and supported the Dub Knicks.

New York Knick legend Bernard King joined the Dub Knicks for one of their practices.

Nigel Hayes, who had an opportunity to soak in some one-on-one time with Bernard King, spoke on some advice he tried to seek from the Knicks legend.

“My AAU coach actually told me to watch film of him and the way he played,” the 6’8” forward said of King. “I had the mid-range face up game that he’s famous for. Talking to him was fantastic, because he [gave me his perspective and shared] how he prepared for each game. He broke it down to me in terms of he was asking me can you shoot, can you dribble, can you play in the post. And [I said] ‘Yes’, ‘Yes’ ‘Yes’. Then he’s like, ‘Well no-one should be able to guard you. And I was like, ‘Well, I guess you’re correct.’”

“Then from that point, just getting that reassurance and confidence from a legend like that, and knowing that I have supreme confidence in my abilities because I put in the work,” Hayes continued.

Over the first 10 games, Westchester had a streak of games. After winning the first three games on the road, the team dropped the next three games on a combined seven points. With a 3-3 record, the Knicks won their following four games.

In the final game of November, the Westchester Knicks had two players on assignment. Damyean Dotson, who was playing in his fourth game at the time, and Joakim Noah made the trip to Westchester. In his first major action in nine months, Noah was productive in his rehab assignment.

After losing their final game in November, Westchester went 6-1 in their next seven games and improved to 13-5. During their four-game west coast road trip, the Knicks went 3-1, which included a 119-113 win over the Pacific Division leading South Bay Lakers.

In the team’s Dec. 8 meeting against the Texas Legends, Xavier Rathan-Mayes joined the Westchester record book by notching the franchise’s first triple-double. In a back-and-forth battle, Rathan-Mayes finished with 12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

After averaging 31.1 points and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 57.1 percent from beyond the arc in the fifth week of the season, Trey Burke was awarded his second Player of the Week honor. By earning that achievement, Burke became the third Westchester Knick to be Player of the Week (DaJuan Summers and Chasson Randle). In his first 12 games, the Westchester guard posted 39 and 43 points. By recording that, he has two of the five highest scoring games in franchise history.

On Dec. 13, the G League announced a partnership with Twitch, which allows users to chat and keep up with the team’s games and player stats. The Knicks’ first game on Twitch was on Dec. 16 against the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Knicks have eight scheduled games on Twitch this season, with four games remaining.

The Dub Knicks finished the season with a 104-92 victory over the Long Island Nets. It marked the second-ever win over their cross-town rivals and first win over Long Island this season. The Knicks were powered by their backcourt of Trey Burke and Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who combined for 60 points on 19-of-30 shooting from the field and 7-of-16 from deep.

The 2016-17 squad closed out the season with a 9-24 record and finished the season 19-31, while the 2017-18 team finished the year by going 16-8.

The 2017-18 squad has started off the season on a high note. The team is currently in first place in the Atlantic Division. With the team showing a lot of excitement through the first two months of the season, the Dub Knicks are bound to show more excitement in 2018.

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