Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft, is going to New York. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the guard has agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Knicks. Hezonja showed his excitement about his new deal via his Twitter account.
New York now has three highly regarded members of the 2015 draft class on its roster. The team drafted franchise player Kristaps Porzingis No. 4 overall three years ago, and at this February's trade deadline it acquired Emmanuel Mudiay, who was selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets.
Prospects like this aren't usually available at this point in their careers. As was the case with Mudiay, the only reason Hezonja was an option for the Knicks is that he has severely underperformed expectations in the NBA. Before the Orlando Magic drafted him, he was lauded as a player who could eventually win a 3-point contest and a dunk contest. In three years, Hezonja has shot 33.2 percent from 3-point range and dunked 62 times in 219 games.
There is good news, though: After struggling to find his NBA identity in his first two seasons, Hezonja demonstrated significant improvement in 2017-18. The Magic did not have much structure on offense, but he averaged 9.6 points in 22.1 minutes and found himself as a shooter and cutter. While he is still not an above-average defender, New York should not expect him to be a turnstile, either. There is no reason he shouldn't be able to build on the strides that he made.
To be clear, this is not the kind of signing that will make Knicks fans throw parties. It is, however, a sensible one for a team like this. New York needed wings, needed 3-point shooting and can afford to take a chance on a young player with upside. If its player development staff can help Hezonja with his ball-handling, maybe he could even become a core player down the line. There is also a chance this is merely a one-year experiment, but If he didn't have the tools to be a real contributor, he would not have been selected No. 5 overall in the first place.