NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a big night for the future of the Knicks.
Duke’s Zion Williamson is already being billed as the franchise’s savior.
First they have to hope the pingpong balls come out in their favor during Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery in Chicago.
But how much of slam dunk is Williamson for the Knicks?
Back in 1985, New York won the lottery and used the top overall pick on Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing. The selection of the future Hall of Fame center helped position the Knicks as an championship contender for the next decade.
Fans are hoping something similar happens Tuesday night and are pulling out all the stops in the search for good karma. Ewing will be on the dais representing the team when the draft order is revealed.
“When you think about trying to start all over again, he’s definitely the guy to bring in. So hopefully he can palm the pingpong ball and bring it home,” Knicks legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe told CBS2’s Otis Livingston earlier Tuesday.
Everyone seems to agree that Williamson is this year’s Ewing. The super freshman is an amazing athlete and a physical specimen. The consensus national player of the year, Williamson is earning the most hype for an NBA draft prospect since LeBron James in 2003.
So along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns, the Knicks have the best chance of getting the No. 1 pick. But it’s only 14 percent chance, so they need get get lucky and get that pingpong ball to bounce in their favor.
“There is some talent out there in college. I think it’s a great opportunity either way, but obviously you want that No. 1 pick,” former Knicks guard Rod Strickland said.
The Knicks won just 17 games in 2018-19, equaling the franchise’s single-season record for futility set four seasons ago. They have won just one playoff series since the 1999-2000 season, making only four postseason appearances in that span.
The New York Post summed up the emotions of Knicks fans heading into the draft lottery, publishing a “Pray For Zion” headline on Tuesday’s front page and “Lotto Luck” on the back.
Knicks fans told Livingston they have no choice but to expect the worst.
“Oh, I’m praying for Zion. How can you not, right? But the past 20 years, what has gone right for us? Nothing. So I have no reason to be happy,” Mark Illuzzi said.
“No shot! Never any luck! No. That’s asking way too much,” Nick Pino added.
“We’ll get the 5th pick tonight. And then [Kevin] Durant will go to the Clippers or stay in Golden State, and nothing will happen. And then next year we’ll talk about the same stuff,” Ryan Attore added.
The draft lottery starts at 8:30 p.m. and will air on ESPN.