Knicks News: Cleanthony Early Improved Conditioning Using Yoga


The New York Knicks selected Cleanthony Early 34th overall in the 2014 NBA draft. Early struggled in his rookie year, largely due to having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee early in the season.

The surgery set Early’s career back as he never got back his conditioning for the grueling long NBA season. Although it is now revealed that Early did not perform any basketball-related activity during the recovery process, as per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

"“It wasn’t just weight last year — people don’t know I didn’t do any basketball stuff until I got thrown on the court,”“My conditioning was part of me going to the D-League [for three games]. I gave up a month-and-a-half not doing any basketball or conditioning. [When I came back], I was out there running, getting winded while trying to play basketball.’’"

With the knee surgery and lack of conditioning last season, Early decided to turn back to yoga, something he use to do in Wichita State. Early says he now does yoga on a daily basis at home.

"“I did it at Wichita State here and there, wasn’t anything consistent,’’“I thought it would help as far as me becoming more in alignment and flexible — be a better defender and better basketball player.I just started doing it more often and feel it’s working. After surgery it was something I needed to do to become more flexible, stay on top of certain correctives, stretching — yoga incorporates all that.’’"

Another reason for last season’s failures is that it sounds as if Early was caught off guard by just how much more psychical and much faster the NBA is. His rookie year was a rude awakening of what the NBA was…even though Early says he was not caught off guard.

"“Going into a new situation, you know it’s more physical, but you don’t know how physical it is until you get there,’’“You know it’s fast. You don’t know how fast until you get there.”“I wouldn’t say it took me by surprise. I knew it’d be fast and knew things I had to learn. But I thought I had enough of an estimation or guess of how fast it would be. It was a little bit faster than that.’’"

Head coach Derek Fisher feels that Early has gotten himself to the point where his conditioning is fit for an grueling 82-game season.

"“The first part of him was physically getting to a point he could perform night in, night out without breaking down,’’“He’s taking care of his body. He’s attacking the basket. That’s really the strength of his game, using athleticism and size. He’s doing really well and proving with minuets he can handle it responsibly. He’ll be able to help us this year.’’"

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Early has shown signs during preseason that he may warrant consistent minutes during the regular season. The most notable improvement in Early’s game offensively is that that he is now able to consistently knock down the three-pointer. Last season Early shot a dismal 26.2% from beyond the arc, so far in five preseason games, Early is 36.4% from downtown. A major improvement that will help keep Early on the floor with his new found ability to space the floor.

In Saturday night’s preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets, Early really impressed offensively, finishing the game with a game-high 17 points and 4 rebounds. In Friday night’s preseason game against the Boston Celtics, Early was even more impressive. Early showed his all-around game, going a perfect 2/2 from three-point range and was aggressive defensively, blocking a couple of shots Friday night.

Early feels that yoga is really helping in his mobility to maneuver around defensively.

"“Everywhere as far as movement, getting over screens, contesting, rebounding, being physical with a guy, positioning, closing out.’’"

Superstar Carmelo Anthony likes what he is seeing so far from Early.

"“He looks more confident this year,’’“I think it was good for him to go through the season last year, this offseason and even right now he looks a lot more confident.’’"

If Early is able to contribute this season, it would be a huge boost to the Knicks roster. Early’s energy defensively will be the key for him getting any minutes in the regular season, and his improved three-point shooting will be a huge bonus.

Early has shown signs that he can contribute, let’s hope he can carry it over into the regular season.

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