As the Knicks gear up for another season, it’s worth noting which teams fans should keep an eye on from a draft asset perspective.
It is September of 2023, so what better time to start thinking about June’s 2024 NBA Draft? This draft class is going to be much maligned over the next 10 months as it is already being called one of the worst draft classes of all time. That will most certainly be debated throughout the year and is already being refuted as the G League Ignite and other top prospects play in exhibition matches. Whether or not this draft class ends up being a disaster or not, you always want to have more swings at the plate.
Over the last couple of years, Leon Rose and Co. have been kicking the can down the road in regard to the NBA draft. With that being said, they have also reloaded their war chest for the allegedly inevitable big move in the future. A certain part of the fanbase will hyper-fixate on Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, or any potential star that could be available on the trade market. While that is a very realistic outcome for this vast cabinet of draft assets, right now, they are simply draft picks, and a draft pick is always going to be more valuable as a trade chip before it becomes a player.
If you are like me or have ever read my draft coverage, you are likely rooting for the Knicks to have as many draft picks as possible to load up on potential young players in the draft. You may even be rooting for them to take Lithuanian Lefties who may never come over… However, whether you are rooting for rookie contracts or tangible trade assets, it is especially important that these picks convey given the amount of protections on some of these picks owned by the Knickerbockers.
There are four potential first-round picks that the Knicks could possess in 2024, each one with more complicated owning rights than the next. These picks have changed hands multiple times on some occasions and the pick may vary just as many times through the different teams that can get lucky or unlucky with the bounce of the lottery balls.
We saw this year that the combination of the lottery gods and some underhanded tactics can change the outcome of a draft pick when the Mavs blatantly tanked their play-in hopes away in order to keep their pick owned by no other than the New York Knicks. Two of the four draft picks are not projected to convey in 2024, but rebellions are built on hope. So, let’s get into it so you know who to root for and against this season!
Pick 1: New York Knicks
This one is cut and dry, the Knicks have their unprotected pick this year. Based off of last year’s season, Knicks fans should not be hoping for a lottery pick. While it is always possible that there is a backslide for the Bockers, the silver lining is having their own draft pick.
Pick 2: Dallas Mavericks
Once again, the Knicks own the draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks thanks to the newest member of the Boston Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks are a hot mess, with Kyrie Irving at the reins leading the charge. That is truly not something you can ever predict or bet on.
Last season, the Mavs were slimy enough to cost Mark Cuban upper 6 figures with a blatant disregard for moral integrity or any precedent set for a team attempting to be competitive in the National Basketball Association.
The league was not happy with the outright display of disrespect shown by the Dallas Mavericks. NBA Executive Vice President Joe Dumars said in a statement from the Association. “The Mavericks’ actions failed our fans and our league.” They worked incredibly hard to keep that pick from conveying. That pick became the 10th pick of the draft and turned into Dereck Lively II for Dallas.
With the Mavericks keeping their pick, the Knicks will get another shot at it. Again, it is top-10 protected: Tankathon currently projects it to land at number 14 and convey for the Knicks. If this pick does not convey, the top 10 protection would carry over to the 2025 draft.
Pick 3: Washington Wizards
While the Knicks have a nice arsenal of draft assets, nobody in the NBA has stocked the cupboard more than Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder. That has allowed Presti to go get his guys no matter the cost with ample draft picks still to spare. They did this last year when they traded the rights to a Wizards draft pick in order to take Ousmane Dieng at the 12th pick.
The Wizards pick has changed hands three times now, going from the Wizards originally, to the Rockets for Russell Westbrook, and was rerouted to the Thunder for Alperen Sengun before heading to New York. The Wizards are going to be scrappy and maybe even fun this year, but that may not translate to a lot of wins.
Knicks fans need to be rooting for the Wizards as the pick this year is protected within the top 12 in 2024, top 10 in 2025, top 8 in 2026, and if not will convey as a 2026 and a 2027 second-round pick.
Top 12 seems likely for the Washington Wizards, but you never know what will happen. If the Knicks could get that pick this year, that would bring a lot of ease to a draft pick that otherwise looks risky due to the rebuilding Wizards.
Pick 4: Detroit Pistons
The other pick that the Knicks received for the draft pick that became Ousmane Dieng was a Pistons top-18 protected first-rounder.
Detroit has its young core and is loaded with young talent between Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, and Ausar Thompson. Knicks fans need to be rooting for that leap sooner rather than later.
This pick is protected in the top 18 in 2024, top-13 protected in 2025, top-11 protected in 2026, and top-nine protected in 2027. The Pistons fans would tell you they could be competing for a championship by 2027, and while it remains to be seen if and when the Pistons will get better, the Knicks will be the beneficiaries.
At the end of the day, the Knicks have done a good job of building up a cabinet of draft assets. What they do with them will determine how successfully the front office is able to build out their roster. Having the picks is great, but using them is what counts. They have enough flexibility and versatility to use these picks in a variety of ways.
While I am always going to be partial towards rooting for draft picks to convey, and will likely be talking about potential sleeper picks whether there is any chance these picks convey or not, that is not the only way. Leon Rose has been a shaker and mover in his time in charge of the Knicks, and draft night has been where he is the grand fromage. Moving down to acquire more picks in the future is how we got to this point but he has gone up and down the draft board and will likely do that again.
Whether he is aggressive on draft night, or aggressive in pursuing a star, these draft picks are what separate the Knicks’ trade packages from many teams. It is better for the Knicks to have picks convey than the idea of them becoming second-round picks and losing their value.
So, this year as you are rooting for the Knicks, make sure to root for Washington and Detroit as well. While, for many reasons, you may not want to root for the Mavericks, you need to hope for them to be just better than last year with less blasphemous tanking at the end of the year.
The Knicks have set themselves up to succeed, but now it is on them to land the plane and use these picks to build a future for this franchise in one way or another.