The New York Knicks returned to the spotlight this past NBA season because of the defense-first mentality Tom Thibodeau instilled in his players. During this offseason, Thibodeau found himself a potential two-way playmaker for the 2021-22 season in rookie guard Miles McBride.
McBride was exceptional as a sophomore for West Virginia, averaging 15.9 points, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. His contributions on both sides of the floor earned him All-Big 12 honors.
Although the NBA season is still a month away, Knicks fans had a chance to see what McBride brings to the table during the Summer League. In six games, he averaged 15.2 points and 3.5 assists.
The Knicks have to be impressed with McBride's athleticism, tenacity on defense, and touch from beyond the arc. Those are all qualities that'll allow him to have success at the pro level.
We caught up with Miles McBride this week to discuss his future with the Knicks, his fit alongside Tom Thibodeau, playing in Madison Square Garden and much more.
The Spun: What was it like finding out that you'll begin your NBA career with the Knicks?
Miles McBride: It was really just a dream come true, honestly. I know the way Thibs [Tom Thibodeau] has been coaching – his coaching style is like my coaches before in high school and college. I feel like it’s a perfect match.
The Spun: Did you immediately think of the fit with Thibodeau after you were drafted, or did you wait a few days to think about it?
MM: I think it’s a combination of both. Obviously, on draft night, I have no clue where I’m going to go. But then I started to hear that Thibodeau was pushing for me. I was like ‘OK, I need to get myself prepared for another coach.’ I don’t have to get as prepared for Thibodeau because I know what role to expect, somebody who’s going to play defense and understand my role.
The Spun: How was the Summer League experience for you?
MM: It was a great experience being able to play with Quentin Grimes, Jericho Sims, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. I feel like we all gelled very easy, so playing together became very easy. Playing with those guys elevated my game.
The Spun: What do you believe you need to do in order to have a role in Thibodeau’s rotation?
MM: Just be ready for anything. You know how quickly things can change in the NBA. I need to be ready to play in any role, whether that’s bringing the ball up the floor, making shots in the corner, or trying to take out the opposing team’s best player. I just need to be versatile.
The Spun: How excited are you to play at Madison Square Garden?
MM: Man, I’m so excited. All the stories I’ve heard from the guys on the team about how crazy MSG was during the first round of the playoffs [are exciting]. The main thing I’ve always wanted to do is win. To be able to do that with one of the most storied organizations in the NBA with the best fans is something I can’t wait for.
The Spun: What do you think will be a big adjustment for you?
MM: Probably just not having the ball in my hands as much as I did last year as West Virginia. I need to understand that some possessions I’ll just need to sit in the corner.
The Spun: What has Bob Huggins meant to your basketball career?
MM: Our relationship was great from Day 1. He’s someone who is always going to expect a lot out of you. He has had great point guards before, so being able to learn stories about what they did helped me a lot. He knew I can take a lot of criticism; I wasn’t going to be babied. We had a great relationship because I was going to work as hard as I can, and he was going to push me. We were going to do everything we could to get the win.
The Spun: What are your thoughts on the NIL deals in college sports?
MM: It’s long overdue. The amount of money college athletes bring to the NCAA is talked about often, but I don’t think people dive into the numbers. I’ve done papers on it throughout high school and college. Just seeing that athletes weren’t getting any of that money, and then seeing that people are walking around with your jersey is kind of crazy. I’m glad they made that change and athletes can profit off their success.
The Spun: You had a funny reaction to your appearance in NBA 2K. Are you hoping the game developers change it?
MM: I don’t think it will change. I would love it to change, though. I’m grateful to be in the game, but that video I posted was meant to be a joke [laughing].
The Spun: What does Miles McBride do away from the hardwood?
MM: I’m a big movie guy. It’s a really easy way to end the night. I can always get into a movie. I’m also trying to read more.
The Spun: That’s certainly fair. What movies do you like to watch?
MM: Training Day, Pulp Fiction, Avengers movies and Transformers.
The Spun: Have you thought about how that transition will be going from a star college player to a rookie in the NBA?
MM: Honestly, it’s where I’m supposed to be. I always felt like I’d be in the NBA. I’m honored to be in this league, and I know Rome wasn’t built in a day. I can’t say I’ll be a top player very soon, but I think guys in this league will eventually look at me like that.
The Spun: Do you have any goals set for your rookie season? And where do you see yourself in three-to-five years from now?
MM: I think for this year I want to find time on the court and do whatever I can to help the team win. Like you said before, there are a lot of seasoned veterans on this team. I’m not going to be taking the ball out of their hands anytime soon. I need to find ways to complement their games this season. Three or five years from now, I want to be considered one of the best two-way players in the game.
McBride certainly has the potential to be a two-way star in the NBA, and with Thibodeau at the helm in New York, it might not take very long for him to crack the Knicks' rotation.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.