It took 34 picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, but someone finally chose Wichita State's Cleanthony Early, and wouldn't you know it would be Phil Jackson. If you needed proof that the President of the New York Knicks had some basketball brains, this pick is it.
Early was one of the driving forces behind the Wichita State undefeated run into the second round of the NCAA Tournament before running up against Kentucky in one of the most amazing games of the season.
Early is gifted, and if New York is smart, he makes this team as he brings talent that everyone can see and while not perfect for the NBA -- a little bit of a tweener -- has a lot of value. He can score, he has the court vision, and he has the basketball IQ that only comes from playing under one of the best coaches in the game.
If anything, Early immediately becomes the most valuable sixth man that any NBA team could have, and he will likely be much more than that before his first season is over with.
If you need proof, just remember what he did against Kentucky in that final game for the Shockers: 31 points, seven rebounds, a ridiculous 12-for-17 from the floor. It was his best game of the season in the biggest game of the year for Wichita State, and he didn't disappoint. He may not have been the most valuable player for the Shockers all season long, but he was the best when it mattered in the NCAA Tournament. It was no one's fault that the Shockers ended up just short, least of all his.
We could wax poetically about Early, but let's say this: he does everything, and of everything, he does nothing poorly. He is just the guy you can send out there without a doubt that he will contribute in some way, and always positive.
The Shockers had three guaranteed NBA talents on the roster this season and the first will soon realize his dream at home with the New York Knicks. It is only a matter of time before all three will be there.