Is World Wide Wes really that important to the New York Knicks?
A lot has been made of the New York Knicks hiring William Wesley, aka “World Wide Wes.” The media likes to make him out to be some sort of oracle or messiah that is the invisible hand that influences every decision made in basketball. While I am not questioning his influence, I do caution Knicks fans in putting their hopes and dreams in his ability to convince players to come to New York.
First and foremost, as discussed in a piece I wrote last week, the real NBA cheat code is identifying stars in the draft, rather than relying solely on trades and free agency.
If Walt Perrin does his job, then World Wide Wes and Leon Rose won’t have much trouble doing theirs. The reality is the Knicks need to build a respectable roster in order to springboard the organization into greatness. Below are two quick scenarios that prove my point.
The New York Trail Blazers
First, I want you to imagine the Knicks had Portland’s roster. While the Trailblazers are not a playoff team this season (by traditional standards), they do have two great players. And both of those players – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – were acquired in the draft with picks outside of the top 5.
While Portland is a couple of pieces away from being really good, not many experts believe they can make those necessary moves because Portland is a small market team in the Western conference. But how would fans feel about their chances to upgrade the roster into a championship team if they were located in New York instead of Portland?
The truth is Knick fans would feel confident that Lillard would provide the gravitational pull necessary to attract the players necessary. No one would be hoping World Wide Wes could deliver. They would be surprised if he didn’t.
The New York Grizzlies
Now imagine a scenario where the Knicks had moved up in both the 2018 and 2019 drafts and were able to select Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant instead of Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett.
How excited would Knick fans be about the future of that team? How many players, coaches, and executives would be begging to work for James Dolan? Even if the Knicks would have only drafted Morant, Knicks fans would still feel great about their roster. That could have happened if New York had just fallen back one spot in the 2019 draft lottery instead of two.
Again the reliance on World Wide Wes’s power and influence would not be necessary. While I believe in RJ Barrett as a player, Morant is a star right now. Having a star point guard on a rookie deal would bolster New York as an attractive free agent destination. That is the real cheat code.
World Wide Wes Myth
While having someone as well connected as World Wide Wes can only help the Knicks, he is not a player. If the Knicks had a roster comparable to Portland’s or Memphis’s, two middle of the road teams in smaller markets, their potential would be through the roof with the added appeal of playing in New York. That is because the New York Knicks, when decent, are one of the few destination franchises in the NBA.
Ironically, it’s the small market teams who could use someone like World Wide Wes to convince players to come more than the Knicks. At least, that’s how it should be if New York could build a competent roster.