The New York Knicks didn't have a pick in last Thursday's NBA Draft, but that did not stop them from bolstering their roster with the free agent acquisition of Wichita State guard Ron Baker.
Baker's skill set, maturity and work ethic should help him land a roster spot in the fall, but it also helps that New York has a need at his position. Unless the Knicks expect a career year from 32-year-old now-free-agent Sasha Vujacic, Baker might fill an immediate hole.
Despite a clear role for Baker, the Knicks' new big three of Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis should shoulder the majority of the offensive load. This will bode well for the rookie as he will not be asked to do too much while he transitions to the speed and style of the NBA.
Baker's shooting prowess is more valuable in today's NBA than ever before. He definitely has the potential to become the Knicks' instant-offense guy coming off the bench. He could be the guy Jeff Hornacek calls on to come in for a few minutes at the end of a quarter and knock down a couple of threes (a la Randy Foye in OKC).
In an increased role, Baker's skill set could work perfectly alongside Rose. In the modern NBA, if you're going to have a starting point guard who shoots 29 percent (yikes) from beyond the arc, it helps to have a knockdown shooter handy to keep the defense honest. Baker's shooting expertise alongside Rose's athleticism would tricky for opposing defenses to counter.
Signing with New York also means that Baker will be reunited with his former Wichita State teammate Cleanthony Early. This is especially intriguing because unless Fred VanVleet can find a way on to a roster, Baker and Early will be the only former Shockers in the NBA.
Baker is a low-risk bet for the Knicks as he has an established skill set and is lightyears ahead of most rookies when it comes to maturity. In a city where young basketball players have a knack for getting themselves into trouble (exhibits A and B), Jackson can rest easy knowing he has at least one player who he won't have worry about going off the rails.
There is obviously a fair amount of disappointment that goes along with listening the 60 names called on draft night without hearing your own, but Baker dropping into the Knicks' lap could benefit both sides immensely.
People have doubted Baker for as long as he's been playing basketball, and for as long as he's been playing basketball, Baker has been breaking through whatever ceiling the so-called experts said he couldn't. The chip on his shoulder that he's carried around since his days at Scott City High School will undoubtedly be bigger than ever when he takes the court at Madison Square Garden this fall.