The NBA Draft Lottery determines the Knicks’ future on Thursday, but it doesn’t determine the team’s fate. There is much more work to do.
The NBA Draft Lottery is this Thursday. The week of the lottery always brings a healthy dose of anxiety, a sprinkle of hope, and plenty of wants.
In most lotteries you desperately want the consensus best player. The 2020 NBA Draft has no such consensus. Not to say there are not good players in this class, there is just no sure-fire, franchise-altering talent relative to the most recent classes—or the proceeding class for that matter.
Then there is the five-month layoff. In any other year we have a better grip on what the team needs. Not the case this year. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the idea of the New York Knicks has always been better than the actual Knicks for some time. Watching basketball return without them has allowed the rose-colored glasses to slip down.
Without having anything to go off for such a long time, I have forgotten a lot of the Knicks’ many problems. I have forgotten how poorly the roster is built, how devoid of shooting the starting lineup is.
Arguing with a friend or coworker about RJ Barrett?
Do they know the spacing in the lineups he was in was dead last in the NBA this year?
Find that fuel for analysis, along with our other contextual stats, all in his Player Profile.
— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) August 14, 2020
I rehash on this not because I enjoy pain, but to put this lottery in perspective. We know the Knicks will select 27th and 38th.
Is LaMelo The Guy?
LaMelo Ball would be welcomed with open arms, but the question is how much would he change the trajectory of the team? Does the team have the parts to help him make any noticeable change?
He absolutely makes the team more fun, and makes for a better pairing with R.J. Barrett than for which people give him credit. Barrett is at his best on the fast break, where LaMelo also enjoys spending his time. Barrett could see a shooting percentage bump off breakaway layups alone. Outside of Barrett and the obvious chemistry Ball would enjoy with lob catcher Mitchell Robinson—who is now officially has the highest field-goal percentage for a single season in league history—the cupboard is barren.
If the price for moving up to select Ball is their 27th pick, go for it. But if the price starts to eat into 2021 assets, you have to ask yourself if the difference between Ball and, say, Killian Hayes or Cole Anthony, is substantial enough to pay a premium for a marginal difference in production and outcome.
Are We Sure Anthony Edwards Isn’t the Best Player?
I am a firm believer that certain players, no matter how talented, would be mediocre or bad players only in New York. Anthony Edwards is one of those players. In a vacuum, Edwards has the highest ceiling, and he could be a victim of over analyzation. He decided to play for a bad Georgia team and suffered the consequences, much like Ben Simmons did after a dull run at LSU.
Like Simmons, Edwards should be the first guy off the board, but I don’t think Knicks fans would want him over Ball, myself included. Edwards would join a crowded court and be asked to take on the scoring load right away. I like the idea of Edwards being flanked by Barrett and Frank Ntilikina—until I consider the possibility of that threesome shooting sub-30% from three.
Still, if the lottery gods decide this upside down year is the year the Knicks win, Edwards has to get heavy consideration. Edwards’ biggest knock is his tendency to drift in and out of the game. Thibodeau’s straightforwardness should help with that and perhaps bring the best out of the “best” player in the draft.
Are We Sure We Don’t Want to Suck One More Time?
Yes, watching bad basketball is tough on the eyes. Yes, meaningful basketball is desperately missed and has been forgotten like the taste of Kangaroos. Those are both true statements.
I’m just saying, are we sure we want to look to take a massive step forward with a loaded draft class coming up in less than 12 months?
Jalen Green, Cade Cunningham, Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Suggs, and Usman Garuba are just a few of the many strong prospects in next year’s class. With scouting savants Walt Perrin and Alex Kline now in the organization, leaning into building through the draft makes the most sense.
A respectful step forward for a 21-win team isn’t asking a lot and does not require blockbuster trades to accomplish. A strong first season for Tom Thibodeau would be 30 wins and tangible progress in the young players. Even a large package to move up for Ball should be cautioned. In 2020 Ball is one of the best options, but there could be even better options on the horizon.
Will Scott Perry Still Be Around?
Scott Perry’s draft resume in New York is a mixed bag, and he may not be around for the rubber match.
Vlade Divac mercifully stepped down as general manager of the Sacramento Kings, and somehow Perry’s name has been thrown in the mix for a front office position. The legendary and original Two Phones Jones, Joe Dumars, is taking over for Divac on an interim basis.
Perry has prior experience with Dumars in Detroit, leaving that front office to take the GM job here in New York. Even though Perry hasn’t been a disaster in New York, I proudly say that I will volunteer to drive Perry to Sacramento myself if it gets him out of New York.
His distaste for Ntilikina and the use of the G League was enough for me to want him gone. The recent renaissances of Michael Porter Jr. and Mikal Bridges in the bubble has only strengthened my bitterness.
Bias aside, Leon Rose will want his own guy, and Perry already feels like he is on borrowed time. An opportunity to reunite with former colleagues could be the clean cut for which Rose could have been hoping.