Bryan and Charlie debate who works best for the Knicks at no. 9 come June at the 2018 NBA Draft.

Bryan: The Knicks did not get lucky in the draft lottery, but they did stay in their slot at nine. Hooray, I guess?

Now it’s time for all of us to open up YouTube and pretend to be draft experts (ESPN, I truly despise you for hiring Draft Express and then not having them do the draft videos).

In my own evolution as a basketball fan/blogger, or whatever I’m considered, how I look at the draft has changed. I attempt to no longer talk definitively about guessing how 18-to- 22-year-old kids are going to change, mature, and develop as they grow older. It’s an impossible task that sees the people paid to do it for a living fail more than they succeed.

Going off what I watched during the college season, the YouTube videos available, and reading other people much smarter than me, I’d say my hope for the Knicks at no. 9 is they land someone with the last name Bridges. I won’t be picky if the first name ends with a “les” or a “kal.”

Charlie

Yeah, I’m well past the point of pretending to be able to project how college players will do in the pros. At various times in my tenure as basketball fan and occasional sportswriter, I was absolutely convinced that guys like Jonny Flynn, John Wallace, and Mike Sweetney were future NBA stars. (Call it Big East bias, I guess.)

Today, I approach the draft with two over-arching assumptions.

  • Rule Number One: the people running NBA teams—even bad NBA teams—have forgotten more about this stuff than I’ll ever know.
  • Rule Number Two: Some percentage of draft picks—even well-researched, well-intended, totally supportable picks—simply won’t work out.

I also have a theory—one which requires some additional research, and which I’d like to bounce off you as a sort of “peer review.” I don’t think simply drafting “best available player” is a good idea in the NBA draft—especially with very high picks. I think high-lottery players who get drafted into a positional logjam or without a clear path to immediate playing time will often have their development as players stunted. I’m thinking of players like Anthony Bennett—who wound up languishing on the Cavs bench behind Tristan Thompson in his first year—or Jahlil Okafor, who wound up battling for minutes with Nerlens Noel, which may have hurt both players’ development.

Just a theory—not sure if it holds much water. But it’s one of the reasons I’m hoping the Knicks draft a wing player—their most pressing need—as opposed to another point guard or a big. I’d rather not see another young player thrown into the Ntilikina/Mudiay/Burke/Baker mix or have another young big languish on the bench like Willy Hernangómez did last year. I’d rather see them draft their 3-and-D of the future and let him develop alongside Ntilikina, Burke, and Hardaway and, eventually, Kristaps Porzingis.

Of course, the looming opt-out decisions from Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn could alter this equation quite a bit, but I’m expecting at least one of them to be back.

Bryan

I’ve come to really despise “BPA” when it comes to the NFL draft. Football has so many different positions and options it’s truly nonsensical jargon. There are certain years it does hold true in the NBA though and those times are fairly obvious. When a LeBron James, Shaquille O’NEal, Tim Duncan, Karl-Anthony Towns type are available you, take them no matter who is on the roster.

Within this draft, though, and who is going to be available when the Knicks pick, I think it’d be a huge mistake to not take positional need into account.

  1. Outside of the people who run Draft Express I don’t think anyone really considers Collin Sexton “BPA” if either of the Bridges are on the board.
  2. I do think Sexton and Frank Ntilikina could play together, but the Knicks need to truly give Frank an opportunity to run the team for a significant period and see how it goes.

The Knicks are in a nice spot in this draft. At nine, they are guaranteed to get one of these 10 players—DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley III, Trae Young, Mo Bamba, Miles Bridges, Mikal Bridges, Luka Doncic, Wendall Carter Jr., or Michael Porter Jr..

June 21st is going to be a good day for the Knicks unless they try to get too cute.

Charlie

I blame Wally Szczerbiak. He compared Sexton to Russell Westbrook and everybody lost their minds.

I don’t love the idea of Trae Young on this team either, but maybe he’d work paired up with Ntilikina. And who knows… maybe Damyean Dotson has a shot to be the 3 this team needs so badly.

Bryan

I’m a big believer in Frank as a point guard, but sometimes you do have to make exceptions. I am intrigued by the concept of a Young-Ntilikina backcourt.

A creative coach could do some really fascinating things with a Young/Ntilikina back court. You would be able to use Young’s gravity as a shooter and offensive initiator to unlock Frank’s high-level passing. I’d run a ton of Young as the ball handler with Ntilikina setting on-ball screens in the way the Warriors’ utilize Draymond Green at times.

Charlie

Tempting, sure. I just worry about another undersized score-first lead guard and what he’d do to the team defense—and they already have a guy who fits that profile in Burke.

I still think a 3-and-D wing would make a lot more sense.