While all the attention was focused on New York’s fourth overall pick Kristaps Porzingis, and more humorously Knicks fans’ reactions, Phil Jackson was in the background continuing his rebuild of the Garden on Draft night. Yes, the team’s President did whip up a trade to score point guard Jerian Grant from the Hawks, but it’s the other international big man that the Zen Master acquired which caught my eye.
Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez is a 6’11” center from Spain currently playing with CB Sevilla (on loan from Real Madrid) in the heralded Spanish ACB league. That’s the same squad PorzIngis just came from and although he doesn’t have the same athletic ability as the Latvian, Hernangomez is an old school big man with good size and offensive skill. The 21-year old is still under contract with Real Madrid for another season so he won’t be joining his former teammate yet, but he’s got enough talent and potential to turn into a solid NBA player with proper development.
New York traded away two future second round picks for the rights to Willy after he was taken at number 35 in this year’s NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2014-2015, he averaged 10 P/G, 5.7 R/G, 54.2% FG and shot 72% from the free throw line. Those are encouraging numbers for a kid who still has room to improve.
Let’s take a closer look at Hernangomez’s game and what he could bring to New York.
New York only has pay him the 2015-2016 rookie wage scale salary this season as long he stays overseas. Thats not a big hit at all and Knicks fans’ can get a further look at Willy Hernangomez this fall at EuroBasket playing for Spain.
This is a big opportunity for him, as both Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka will not be participating which leaves plenty of playing time for the young center. It’s an underrated move, but Phil Jackson may have found the Knicks a valuable asset for the future.