Best: Drafting Kristaps Porzingis
The Joakim Noah signing proved disastrous, but Phil Jackson found success in the NBA Draft for the New York Knicks. This was highlighted in 2015, when he selected Kristaps Porzingis, a Latvian big name that acted as the draft’s international man of mystery.
Of course Knicks fans jeered the Porzingis selection on draft night, as the team missed on the top three picks — Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor — and a popular name, Emmanuel Mudiay, remained on the board.
Well, Porzingis managed to cure doubts of his abilities immediately. His rookie campaign featured 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 72 starts, as the Robin to Carmelo Anthony’s Batman and a much-needed youthful presence on a rebuilding team.
Porzingis took another jump in year two, with 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. The Knicks had a budding star on their hands, in the bright lights of New York City, and someone to take the reigns in the post-Carmelo Anthony era, which began in 2017-18.
Porzingis was on his way to a career year, averaging 22.7 points and earning a spot in the 2018 All-Star game. A torn ACL just days before, though, took him out for the rest of the season.
While Jackson only saw two years of the Porzingis experiment, he still made this selection amidst criticism and watched it pan out. It’s arguably the best move of his three seasons in New York.