David West’s season is over, and thus, the Hornets’ season is over. New Orleans will still likely hold onto their playoff spot (though with West sidelined, a tough schedule ahead, and Houston on a roll, maybe we shouldn’t even take that much for granted), but even the slim chance the Hornets had to make it out of the first round has been entirely erased.
Yet the Hornets will still do what they can to finish out the season to their best of their collective ability. Jason Smith and Carl Landry will come into more minutes, and will need to produce more for the team to stay afloat. Chris Paul will have to fight through more defensive pressure than ever. And Dell Demps has already made a small move to fill West’s roster spot by signing D-Leaguer Patrick Ewing Jr. to a 10-day contract, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
Ewing isn’t tailor-made to fill West’s shoes; positionally, he just doesn’t provide the same fit, and it’s unlikely that he’ll actually log any time at power forward. He’s actually a much more natural backup for Trevor Ariza, and unfortunately, he’s a bit too much like Trevor Ariza, only without the same defensive pedigree. Ewing shares in Ariza’s love for the ill-advised jumper, and though his physical gifts are considerable, he struggles to maintain offensive efficiency as a result of that poor decision-making. Still, Ewing is worth a look, even if he isn’t necessarily the best D-League prospect available. The production (Ewing has averaged 19.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the Sioux Falls Skyforced) and athleticism are there, but it remains to be seen if Ewing can understand his role on the pro level.
Through a combination of obvious familial ties, a tour at a big-name college, and links to the NBA team in the biggest media market on the planet, Patrick Ewing Jr. has a startlingly high profile for a fringe NBA candidate. So much so that those not looking too closely were troubled by the Knicks’ decision to cut him, despite the fact that Jr.’s game just isn’t NBA caliber.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks opted to cut Ewing Jr. — and retain the cloud of off-court problems named Shawne Williams — due to Williams’ superior shooting. Funny, because Ewing Jr. loves shooting, but shooting doesn’t always love him. It’s not that Williams is some kind of marksman, either; he’s shot just .306 from behind the arc during his three-year NBA career, but Williams must have endeared himself to the Knicks’ staff with some of his other talents. What those talents are, exactly, is a bit of an unknown. Williams has never been particularly skilled or productive among pros, and I’m a bit surprised that New York didn’t opt to cut both players, pocket the cash, and call it a day.
Still, this is no injustice against Ewing. He’s an incredible athlete and has the potential to be an effective NBA defender, but he also has enough detrimental offensive tendencies to give any coach serious pause about playing him. Long arms and an impressive vertical just aren’t enough to make it as an NBA regular, and hopefully Jr. takes that to heart as he continues to work on his game.
Two years ago, Patrick Ewing Jr. almost made the New York Knicks. The final roster decision came down to keeping him and buying out Stephon Marbury, or keeping Starbury around. Well, there wasn’t enough drama around the Knicks, so they went Starbury.
Now Ewing gets another chance — the Knicks have signed him to a partially guaranteed deal, meaning he has a decent shot at getting the final roster spot this time around.
Ewing (yes, he is the son of that other Knick Ewing) was averaging 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Reno Bighorns of the D-League until he sprained his knee last season and sat the end of it out.
Ewing played for the Knicks Summer League team in Vegas, where in four games he averaged 11.3 minutes and had 4.8 points per game (while shooting a nice 61 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three).