Coming out of Wichita State university, the New York Knicks selected Cleanthony Early with the 34th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. When first selected it was thought by many that Early was one of the biggest steals of the draft. At this point in time, that’s far from the case.
Early faced a setback from the beginning, suffering a knee injury which required surgery resulting in him missing a month of action. Early has, so far, played in 28 games and he’s started in 7 of those. Early is averaging 4.4,points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 32% from the field and 27% from long range.
There are two completely different sides to the Cleanthony Early story; blaming the situating and blaming the player.
In recent times Early has failed to make the most of the opportunities he has received. Since Carmelo Anthony shut it down for the year either Lance Thomas or Tim Hardaway Jr could have easily taken Anthony’s place in the lineup but Derek Fisher has persisted with Early.
From an outsiders point of view it seems as though New York is using the remainder of this season to gear up and go big next season. In simpler terms, the remainder of the 2014-15 season is an audition for next year. Early seems to be suffering from stage fright.
Due to Early’s setback at the beginning and the Knicks’ attempt to gain ground Early found himself out of the rotation. Even though the losses piled up Early still failed to crack the rotation. He has spent much of his short NBA career on the bench and he is yet to receive minutes on a regular basis. Playing in garbage time doesn’t necessarily help you gain experience.
Due to inconsistent court time, Early has been unable to find a rhythm in the NBA. Many underestimate just how hard it is to find that rhythm, if it be shooting the ball, running through the offensive sets or making the correct reads consistently on the defensive end. It also doesn’t help Early’s cause that a fair portion of the roster is playing for themselves, for their futures. The Knicks season as we all know, winning wise, is down the drain and New York is playing for the highest lottery pick possible.
Derek Fisher has given Cleanthony Early an opportunity and he has failed, so far, to take advantage of that. Early’s strengths offensively includes jump shooting and running the lanes in transition. The mature aged rookie has not looked to attack, Early has been very timid and it seems as though he is playing to cautiously. Early is thinking, not reacting.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup Early’s shot selection has been horrendous. He is forcing and not letting the game come to him. On many occasions Early had launched a deep three pointer after the first pass in the offense. He is settling rather than attacking offensively. Early has been unable to consistently hit jump shoots and he rarely makes a move toward the rim. There is common saying in basketball, if you can’t hit jump shots get to the rim or the foul line for some easy points.
As you can see there are two sides to the story. Early has the rest of the season to prove himself to Phil Jackson as nobody is safe this upcoming offseason. Everybody but Carmelo Anthony is tradable.