DaRon Holmes II, an athletic forward with tantalizing scoring talent, would be a great addition to the Knicks’ bench.

The last time the New York Knicks drafted a Dayton Flyer in the first round of the draft, it was back in 2020 and things were feeling weird for the team. 

They assumed, understandably, that Julius Randle may not be a good fit for the team anymore. That he may not, in fact, be their best option at power forward as they looked to climb back into relevancy in the early 2020s. Enter Obi Toppin. 

Toppin, a high-flying and strong finisher who had been coming off a great season with the Flyers, came onto a team that had woefully underestimated just how good Randle could become if he stopped feeling like their only scoring option on the floor. That led to his eventual phasing out from the rotation, and to the eventual trade with the Indiana Pacers to send him packing to play with Tyrese Haliburton. 

The Knicks can right the wrong of drafting Toppin into a poor developmental situation by taking a chance on DaRon Holmes II in the 2024 NBA Draft. 

Holmes, a 6-foot-8 power forward with a big wingspan and a penchant for using his length to his advantage around the perimeter against smaller guards, would make a pretty sizable impact on a Knicks PF room that saw them hurting for talent in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Randle’s injury and Precious Achiuwa being unable to string together enough great games to make an impact left New York shorthanded. 

Holmes has some freaky athleticism and handles for a big, with the handles being the main draw for this New York team in search of someone else off their bench who can ball handle outside of Deuce McBride or Josh Hart. He averaged 2.6 assists per game last season, which isn’t exactly a flashy number but still draws your attention if you take into consideration the fact that he was trusted with the ball in his hands often despite being a power forward. 

In addition to his passing ability, his shooting improved significantly this past season with Dayton. Showing that he wanted to improve upon his previously poor shot-making, he went from averaging just 31.6 percent from three-point range in 2022-23 to 38.6 percent in 2023-24 while increasing his attempts to 2.5 per game from just 0.6 per game the previous season.  

Holmes also has a ton of potential as a defender. Due to his athleticism and size, he’s able to act as a center in smaller lineups and at least feign that he is a rim protector (although, that is not his bag as a defender). In addition to that versatility, there are several clips of him last season managing to work through screens and defend players on the perimeter – an issue the Knicks have had for years as they look to gain some size on their roster. He picked up several blocked shots this way, leaping sky-high to contest three balls almost with ease. His timing is also good, showing the ability to stay on his feet and defend in space. 

One issue with Holmes? His passing, while solid, has led to some miscues. He likes to drive and kick and who doesn’t like unselfish play from such a young forward? But that drive and kick tendency often leads to turnovers, of which he averaged 2.2 per game last season. If he can clean up his problems in this area and get more creative as a passer while also staying a lot more composed on these drives, he could end up being like a Randle in the sense that he will always look to exploit his gravity as a finisher to feed his other teammates. 

Another issue creeping up for the Knicks has nothing to do with Holmes’ abilities as a basketball player. It was reported on Thursday that Holmes was invited to the green room at the NBA Draft this year, implying that a team has likely told him they plan on taking him in the first round. One team that apparently may have made that promise is the Denver Nuggets, who pick 28th. New York picks right above them at 24 and 25, but it remains to be seen if the Knicks plan on packaging these picks at all or if they’ve moved on from the idea of trying to take alleged team favorite Ryan Dunn. 

Regardless of whatever draft promises DaRon Holmes II has received, teams picking higher than Denver are sure to be interested in taking the big to bolster their bench and inject some major athleticism into their rotations.

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