The NBA Draft may still be six months away, but that isn't stopping Knicks C Willy Hernangomez from stating his desire to join forces with former teammate Luka Doncic.
Hernangomez, 23, was effusive in his praise for the 18-year-old guard, who he played alongside in 2015-16 with Real Madrid in the Liga ACB in Spain.
"I played with him -- he's really a talented guy,'' Hernangomez said. "I think people in The States don't understand how difficult it is to play in European League when you're  years old and playing against 30-year-olds and be the best. Most of the players in college won't do as well as he is doing in Europe. For him, he's a top three in the draft this year. He's my friend. I have a great relationship with him."
A native of Slovenia, Doncic is averaging 14.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game with Real Madrid. He's projected to be a lottery pick in the 2018 draft which does not bode well for the Knicks, who have fallen to a 21-27 record after a 17-14 start. However, their early-season success makes landing a top-5 pick unlikely.
Hernangomez compared his former teammate to another European star, former Net Drazen Petrovic, who was killed in a car accident in 1993.
[Doncic] is a 2, 3, he can play point guard and he's really smart, talented,'' Hernangomez said. "He can shoot. He will really improve because he's a kid. If you know Petrovic, he was amazing. He's kind of a player like him. All the European guys in the NBA are excited for him to play here.''
There is also the matter of Hernangomez's future with the Knicks, which isn't as clear as it was following a strong rookie season in 2016-17. A second-round pick by the Sixers in 2015, Hernangomez's rights were traded to the Knicks, with whom he eventually signed in July 2016. He averaged 8.2 points and 7 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game last season, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. However, the Spaniard has fallen out of coach Jeff Hornacek's rotation this season, averaging under 10 minutes per game while appearing in only 21 of the Knicks' 48 contests.
"I don't know what will happen,'' Hernangomez said about his future. "As I've said a couple of times, I'm 23. I'm hungry. I want to play. Whatever happens, I'm ready for it."