Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Ignas Brazdeikis was asked on Friday to describe his game. His answer is probably something that will endear him to the Knick fan base.
"I'm a relentless player. I don't fear anyone or anything. I don't back down from anyone either," Brazdeikis, the Knicks' second-round pick, said. "I'm very confident in my abilities as well. I go as hard as I can every single game to help the team win. I'm aggressive. I feel like I l know who I am as a basketball player."
The Knicks traded up in the second round to select Brazdeikis, a 20-year-old freshman forward from Michigan. They sent cash and the 55th pick to Sacramento in exchange for the 47th pick.
Team president Steve Mills said the club had its eye on Brazdeikis after his performance at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
"We were really impressed with his competitiveness, his toughness, the way he could shoot the ball. We actually said, 'This guy is going in the first round, we're not going to have a chance to get him,'" Mills said Friday. "And as we were watching the draft play out, our analytics guys, he rates out really high as a rotational NBA player. When there was an opportunity to go get him we decided that was something that was important for us to do. Because we didn't expect that opportunity."
Brazdeikis, 6-7, averaged 14.8 points while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc at Michigan.
Brazdeikis was born in Lithuania and raised in Ontario. He played on Canada's U-17 team with Knicks first-round pick RJ Barrett.
"It was a lot of fun. But it's almost the off-court stuff was really what brought the team together," Brazdeikis said. "It was a special group. We've known each other for so long and just playing with this group of guys from Canada and now being in the position that we're in now. You can't write this stuff up. It's an amazing culture now and I'm excited to be a part of this one."
BARRETT'S TRIP TO MILLS' APARTMENT
Mills said Friday that the Knicks spent considerable time with Barrett before they drafted him. That included time together at the NBA Combine in Chicago and during Barrett's two-day trip to New York for a workout.
"Scott and I took him out to dinner twice. He came to my apartment to watch the NBA Finals together. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other and understanding that he had the things that we were looking for," Mills said. "But I think we had the things he was looking for. So we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. We knew him as basketball player. We were looking into who he was as a person and as a competitor. So that was important to us."
On Barrett's visit with Mills at his apartment, the team president said he wanted Barrett "to come in and be part of my family and spend time with me and my wife. It was important to spend quality time together. I wasn't looking for anything important but (to) express to him the relationship we'd like to have with the players who play for us."
PERRY SAYS GARLAND, WHITE WORKOUTS WERE DUE DILIGENCE
Knicks GM Scott Perry says the club was locked in on RJ Barrett weeks before the draft. They brought in Darius Garland and Coby White for workouts within one day of the draft, leading to speculation that they could select either player with the third pick. One report said Garland was in serious consideration for New York at three. That was apparently inaccurate. Here's what Perry said about the Garland and White workouts:
"Like we said from the time I came in, we're going to always study everything through and through. That's part of preparing for a draft," Perry said. "You want to get a chance to see as many prospects as you can. Learn more about them, learn their stories. Also further evaluate, you dot your final I's and crossing the final T's. So that's what went into our thinking. We felt very confident in this young man here. We were glad he was still there at 3 where we could draft him. It was no more, no less. That's how we're always going to go about our business. We're always going to be very prudent, very diligent and really turn over every stone we have to as we make our final decision."
There were reports of Memphis possibly trading the second pick, but teams in touch with the Grizzlies ahead of the draft were under the impression that the Grizzlies would need to be blown away by an offer to trade the pick, per SNY sources.
Memphis ended up selecting point guard Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick. New York had talked to teams about potentially trading down prior to the draft, but clearly decision-makers didn't hear any offers they liked.
BARRETT READY TO BATTLE FOR ROY
Barrett was asked on Friday about winning the Rookie of the Year award, an honor his Duke teammate and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will also be vying for.
"I'm not going to say that I don't want it. I'm definitely going for rookie of the year for sure," he said. "It's going to be a battle. But I'm confident enough that I can get it."