Without any picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, New York Knicks’ president Phil Jackson made his goal to acquire at least one. He did just that when the Knicks dealt center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks for point guard Jose Calderón, center Samuel Dalambert, swingman Wayne Ellington, point guard Shane Larkin and two second round picks. The Knicks used those picks to select former Wichita State Shockers’ swingman Cleanthony Early (34th-overall) and Greek swingman Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51st-overall).
Early is very excited and honored to be Jackson’s first pick as an executive.
“It’s very humbling, but at the same time it’s very inspiring – that’s exactly what it’s doing for me,” Early said of being Jackson’s first draft pick via Basketball Insiders. “It’s keeping me humble and it’s keeping me inspired because he had players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Now, with him drafting me first, you have an expectation to live up to. And it’s not just what anyone else sets for you, it’s what you set for yourself and where you see yourself. If you have high goals, you’re going to work hard and Phil Jackson is the perfect teacher. People call him the Zen Master and a genius, and you get labels like those from having a great resume and being a great person and I think I could do great with those type of people because I’m willing to learn from as many people as possible. When you have a great teacher and someone who’s willing to listen and is as open to learning as I am, only positive can come out from this.”
Early measured in at 6’7.25 and 209 lbs. with a wingspan of 6’10.75 at the NBA’s Scouting Combine. He averaged 16.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 48.7% from the field, 37.6% from three and 84.2% from the charity stripe for the Shockers last season. He was ranked as the draft’s 30th-best prospect by Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.