The other tanking teams in the league are making a free fall in the standings increasingly unlikely for the Knicks, so the focus has shifted to the back end of the lottery in the newest iteration of the TKW Draft Lottery Board.
Do not allow another meaningless second half of the season get you down. Sure, it would have been nice to play meaningful basketball in March and April this season, but the universe has other plans. Right now Knicks basketball revolves around evaluating young talent. That includes the talent already on the roster, as well as the talent in the upcoming draft pool. March games may mean nothing for the Knicks, but for the prospects, it’s crunch time.
This is the best time to evaluate your favorite prospects. The regular season is all but over, which leaves us with conference tournaments followed by the big dance. That means high stakes games. Pressure makes diamonds, so this is the optimal time to go through the vetting process and differentiate who we want from who we need.
Over the course of the next couple weeks college squads will be working on a semi-pro schedule. They will be playing multiple games in as many nights. Some may see the same opponent more than once within a week’s span. As these amateurs go through the ringer that is March Madness, our job is to sit back and watch. Take note of how each guy responds to the workload. Be aware if lack of rest appears to affect their game.
As of this writing the Knicks sit at the ninth spot in the lottery. Unfortunately, that might be New York’s lottery ceiling. The Bulls have ramped up their tanking methods to gain some separation, while the rest of the field is simply too awful to catch.
Knicks Lottery Tracker:
I added a column for "if the Knicks finish 0-20" to show what the teams ahead of them would need to finish to match their record. It's a tough climb.
(make sure to click on the image to see the full dashboard) pic.twitter.com/zDVHvcvWdv
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) February 27, 2018
That gives the Knicks 6.1 percent chance to jump into the top three and 1.7 percent chance at landing the top pick (per Tankathon). I am by no means a pessimist, but clinging onto the potential of a miracle is not exactly prudent. From here on out the expectation should be that the Knicks will select ninth.
The good news is that we can now narrow down the prospects. This board will mirror this realistic approach. That means saying goodbye to elite talent like Michael Porter Jr. and Jaren Jackson Jr. But it also allows us to look closer at some guys we’ve had our eye on since the first edition.
So with that out of the way, let’s jump into the pre–March Madness edition of The Knicks Wall 2018 Draft Lottery Board.
Current Record: 24–37, 11th in Eastern Conference
Projected Draft Pick: 9th overall
Biggest Need: Wing Depth
Forward, Michigan State
The two Bridges are 1A and 1B. Both offer a more mature game at a position the Knicks desperately need to address. Had the timeline of the season been a little different, Mikal is the clear-cut top target. He looks like the traditional 3-and-D player every team covets that can contribute immediately. He’s been on a hot streak recently, scoring 25 points against Xavier, including this quick release look from the wing:
Miles, on the other hand, might be the best athlete in the lottery. He is not the marksman Mikal is, but can create for himself at a higher level. His game winner against Purdue remains his best performance of the year, but he has the most to gain from the postseason. His presence would bring the type of athleticism to the table that this current roster lacks and add another player that can create his own shot.
If the Knicks decide they are throwing out next season, which they likely will be, a younger prospect like Kevin Knox could be the play. He is still finding his game unlike the Bridges’, but has shown bursts of potential this season. The performance that sucks you in is his 34-point thrashing of West Virginia on the road. He is the alpha at Kentucky only he isn’t. When you watch them play Knox is the one who seems to have the ball with the game on the line. His ability to play off the ball and find open pockets on the floor is perhaps his best skill:
We should get a little more insight as to what kind of player he’ll be over the next few weeks. If Kentucky gets hot in the tournament, there is a high possibility Knox had something to do with it. With his size he could play the three or four full time, but might need a year of development before he’s ready to contribute.
The addition of Sexton to a suddenly crowded backcourt of Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, and Trey Burke doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then again, we are talking about the Knicks. Sexton is nasty. Prior to the trade for Mudiay, I had Sexton at the top of the draft board because he can get buckets and looks like he’d be good enough on defense. His explosiveness off the dribble and innate ability to get into the paint is noteworthy:
One thing that is becoming more clear by the game is that Frank is better off the ball. Knicks brass clearly thinks the same based on the moves that they have made as the season has progressed. If Mudiay doesn’t blow the team away to end the season and Sexton finishes his season strong, why not take a look? He fill the same role at a cheaper price and maybe even a higher skill level.
Wendell Carter Jr.
Duke’s other impressive big man remains a decent fallback option. Marvin Bagley has definitely stolen some of his thunder, but I think with Kanter coming back next season there’s not a whole lot of reasons to take another big. The biggest problem with this team is that they are too slow. Adding Carter keeps that as the status quo at best. He has some serious post moves and can clean the glass, but he will likely be doing that outside of New York. Nonetheless, many of his skills are eye-popping, including his passing:
Michael Porter Jr., Forward, Missouri
Jaren Jackson Jr., Forward/Center, Michigan State
Mohamed Bamba, Center, Texas
Luka Doncic, Guard, Slovenia
Marvin Bagley III, Forward, Duke
DeAndre Ayton, Center, Arizona
Trae Young, Guard, Oklahoma