On Thursday, Nov. 12 the Westchester Knicks, the NBA Developmental League local affiliate of the New York Knicks, opened their second season at the Westchester County Center.
To say the least, nobody actually knew what to expect regarding the Westchester Knicks this season after the local D-League team concluded its inaugural season 10-40 overall, with only one win in 26 road games.
After an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem by the first-ever winner of America’s Got Talent, Bianca Ryan, the local Knicks tipped-off against the Maine Red Claws, the D-League affiliate of the Boston Celtics.
The Westchester Knicks fired their inaugural Head Coach Kevin Whitted with four games remaining last season and hired former Austin Spurs Assistant Coach Mike Miller, prompting uncertainty about the upcoming season.
The Westchester Knicks greeted County Center fans on opening night with a completely revamped roster containing only three players from last season. One of those three returning players never actually played a game for the local Knicks last season. Hence, even more anxiety concerning the Knicks 2015-16 season.
The Westchester Knicks players each selected a young fan to escort them onto the court as they made their 2015-16 debut. Louis Falasca, a sixth grade student from Alice E. Grady Elementary School in Elmsford had a thrill of a lifetime. Falasca walked with forward Sean Marshall, as the Boston College graduate (’07) made his first regular season appearance for the Westchester Knicks.
“Sean Marshall picked me to walk with him. It is really good and personally I love the Knicks. I came to games last season and it is a great time,” Falasca said.
Creating even more doubt about the possible success of the local Knicks this season was the decision by their number one draft pick (second overall) in this year’s D-League Draft, Jimmer Fredette, to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans two days before the season commenced.
However, many doubts were erased when the newly formed Westchester Knicks beat the Maine Red Claws, 105-103, in a thrilling Home Opener at the County Center.
Westchester Knicks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo returned to the County Center court after signing and being waived by the upstart NY Knicks in the offseason. Antetokounmpo had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the game.
Also returning to the local Knicks roster is 7’-2” center Jordan Bachynski, who played 18 games with the County Center dwellers last season, after the D-League Knicks acquired his rights on Feb.13. Bachynski had 15 points and nine rebounds in the Home Opener, while acquainting local fans to the fact that he is here to make an impact.
Nonetheless, these two players on a roster of 10 were the only players to see action with the Westchester Knicks last year. Forward Dajuan Summers is technically a returning player after being selected in the 2014 Expansion Draft by the local Knicks. However, he is seeing his first action in orange, blue and white, after playing last season in Spain.
Summers is a veteran of four seasons in the NBA, having played with the Detroit Pistons (2009-11), New Orleans Hornets (2011-12) and Los Angeles Clippers (2012-13).
Despite his NBA pedigree, the question remained how he would help a 10-man roster with most players playing together for the first time.
Nevertheless, Summers acquainted Westchester Knicks fans to his talents immediately and even helped them win free Buffalo Wild Wings on Opening Night.
When the local Knicks score 100 points and win the game, fans with a ticket to that game at the Westchester County Center, receive a free snack size of wings at Buffalo Wild Wings throughout that day with no purchase necessary.
When Marshall drove to the hoop and scored at 4:20 in the fourth quarter to make the score 101-92, all the Knicks had to do was win for free wings all around. Summers made sure of the treat by being credited for a goal-tending offense on a jumper to put the Knicks ahead, 103-101. Then he faded away and hit the game-winner with 14.2 seconds on the clock.
Summers had a remarkable Westchester Knicks debut with 28 points and nine rebounds, with 11 of those points coming in the fourth quarter. Marshall ended the game with a double-double, 18 points and 11 rebounds and Travis Trice II finished with 18 points in the Home Opener victory.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive and show some leadership. Sean (Marshall) and I are the older veterans on the team, so we understand what it takes to win tight games,” said Summers.
What was even more amazing about the start of the Westchester Knicks second season is that they also won their second home game at the County Center, while beating the Erie Bayhawks, 83-79. Summers again led the way with 30 points; Trice II netted 21 points and dished seven assists and Antetokounmpo added 15 points.
The Westchester Knicks at this point of their second season have already won one-fifth of the games that they won in total last season. Maybe, this is a sign of things to come; it certainly adds promise to the local Knicks this season.