The final edition of the TKW 2018 Draft Lottery Board highlights the needs of the Knicks as their quest toward rebuilding the roster begins in earnest.
All things must end. The college season. The NBA season. And our beloved draft board—at least until further notice. As for TKW’s draft coverage, the whole squad will be pushing out individual prospect breakdowns. With the conclusion of the college season, there is no more tape needed from the prospects. The next time we will see these guys will be in Chicago for the combine.
What we can do is continue to update their standing based on what the Knicks are going through. Trey Burke has further strengthened his case to play an integral role next season at the bare minimum. As of late, his fellow Dub Knicks brethren have joined in on the late season success. Most notably, Damyean Dotson had a career night last week against Miami, dropping 30 points and 11 rebounds in a winning effort.
When you take a look at the nucleus the Knicks are building, two things pop out at you: three-point shooting and athleticism. Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and now Dotson as well as Luke Kornet can all shoot the three. When Kristaps is back and the team is at full strength, you have a solid glut of young guys who can run and shoot the ball.
As of right now, the Knicks have slipped back to the ninth spot in the lottery. The success of the young guys has cost them some positioning, but if you ask any true fan, they should take proper development over losses. Also, the fight is not just over. They have the ability to climb as high as six if certain things break their way.
For optimistic fans, the highest lottery slot the Knicks can still reach is 6th, and here is how they would have to do it: pic.twitter.com/k8xByK6n81
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) April 8, 2018
Even if they are able to make the climb to the sixth slot—which is possible for the Knicks who face LeBron twice to close out the season—their selection remains about the same. This unlikely climb would require outside help from the likes of the Bulls, Nets, and Kings. I’m not counting on them and neither should the Knicks. With that in mind, let’s get to the board.
Current Record: 28–52, 11th in Eastern Conference
Projected Draft Pick: 9th overall
Top Priority: Wing Depth
Go ahead and toss championship experience on Mikal’s résumé. Sure, he was around for Nova’s title run three years ago, but he was just a pup. This year, he was three years wiser and an integral part of the run. To cap off his best collegiate season, he went through a full life cycle. He was down against Texas Tech (12 points on 30 percent shooting), pitched in to the manslaughter against Kansas (10 points on 50 percent shooting), and then rose back up to be the contributor he had been all season in the title game against Michigan (19 points on 58.3 percent shooting).
Through his shooting peaks and valleys, one thing continued to shine for Mikal. He has an innate ability to remain valuable on the floor. When his shot is not falling, he’s able to still be a nuisance on defense. On offense, he does possess the ability to put the ball on the floor, contrary to the 3-and-D box myself and others put him in early in the season.
Thanks to a strong last impression against a solid Michigan team, Mikal could be off the board when the Knicks choose. But if he is still there, adding him to a suddenly emerging Damyean Dotson continues to build an athletic nucleus that can shoot from beyond the arc. As my guy Jonathan Macri outlined eloquently last week, the Knicks would love to land a diamond in the rough, especially if the only downside is competent piece to the puzzle.
Forward, Michigan State
On the other side of the Bridges spectrum we have Miles. Unlike Mikal, Miles left a bad taste in our mouths. The ugliness of the Syracuse zone left a troublesome demerit on his résumé. That 11-point performance amplified the weak facets of his game. When the lane is crowded, he turns into Playoff Kyle Lowry, where he just aimlessly launched threes over the zone. His defense comes and goes like reception in the subway.
Despite the tough game that has allowed itself to fester in a mild drop down the draft board, Miles is still a solid option. His athleticism would be a nice addition to the wing where he and Tim Hardaway Jr. could get out and run. My favorite version of Miles is in the open court. He doesn’t shoot the transition three as well as Mikal, but his ability to levitate is unparalleled.
To put an optimist spin on this, a reduced load could do wonders. Right now, Miles is a jack of all trades, master of none. He was asked to do everything as a Spartan. In New York, he wouldn’t have to be the best defender or even the top scorer. A smaller load could be the catalyst in Miles finding a clearer path to the player he wants to become.
Knox remains the fallback option. He is a lock to be on the board when the Knicks choose regardless of slot. The appeal of a Knox is the project aspect. His frame allows him to play immediately, but one thing that stuck out during the tournament—and at parts during the season—is he doesn’t have a go-to move. He did his most consistent damage in the midrange, but was inconsistent from deep.
If the Knicks decided to select him with the intention of spending time in Westchester, this could be a sound investment. We have seen the fruits of the Dub Knicks labor late in the season with Trey, Dotson, Kornet, and Isaiah Hicks. If Knox is given the proper time to develop, he could evolve into a big piece of future plans.
Wendell Carter Jr.
At the time of the first board, the center position was secure. Enes Kanter was assumed to be around at least for next season. Kyle O’Quinn was expected to opt out thanks to playing well above his contract. Now, not only is KOQ likely to opt out, but Kanter could too. That leaves Joakim Noah as the lone center on the roster. With Porzingis out until at least February, only Kornet and Hicks would be left in the frontcourt should the Knicks decide to give them another shot.
That leaves the door open for Wendell Carter Jr. He gets buried in this draft to no fault of his own but to his fellow draft mates. He does not possess the defensive potential Mohamed Bamba does. He’s not the offensive animal DeAndre Ayton or his former teammate at Duke Marvin Bagley III project to be. Those guys are the new age big men. Carter is a bit of a throwback.
The best comparison I’ve seen for Carter is Al Horford. Carter did shoot 41.3 percent from three at Duke. I believe he could be similar to KOQ in his respective rookie year. He has the shooting touch to work outside and body to bang on the boards. The one area where he adds a value neither O’Quinn or Kanter can provide is rim protection. He averaged 2.1 blocks for Duke and would be a nice complement to KP thanks to his experience with Bagley.
What the Knicks have to decide is if they’d rather look to free agency or the second round to address the frontcourt.
The play of Trey Burke has not swayed the opinion of mock drafts with Sexton’s name continuously popping up next to the Knicks at the nine spot. The appeal is clear. He gets buckets. He has the jets. Did I mention he can score?
It should not be surprising the Knicks have interest. Prior to trading Emmanuel Mudiay, they kicked the tires on Eric Bledsoe. Sexton would be classified as a similar player. What boosts Sexton’s stock is the potential of pairing him up with Frank Ntilikina. Frank fills Sexton’s weaknesses and could be the facilitator on offense, while Sexton is the score-first type of guard Frank is not. We’ve seen it work with Burke, and to a lesser extent Mudiay. Having too many guards is never a bad problem, especially if they are as talented as Sexton.
It would only be right that Trae Young falls to New York and ends up not being Steph Curry 2.0, or goes somewhere else and fulfills that foolish comparison. Young is talented, no question about that. His vision and shooting are huge positives. But I always come back to that West Virginia game.
During the regular season, it’s easy to see Young running wild on teams some nights. But when playoff basketball comes around, I’m not as certain. The Knicks already have a Trey. And unlike Trae, Trey Burke has proven that he could play against the top competition. I just don’t see much sense in taking someone you already have. Then again, we have to remember the team we are talking about. Celebrity has always taken precedence over smarter decisions. Trae Young will be the true test to see just how much the organization has changed.
Michael Porter Jr.
Unfortunately, other teams are starting to wisen up. Michael Porter Jr. is likely to be a top five pick in the draft. There was nothing from the tournament to give a cause for concern. If the Knicks sneak up to the sixth spot, then maybe the pipe dream can be alive once again.
OTHER NOTABLE NAMES
Luka Doncic, Guard, Slovenia
Jaren Jackson Jr., Forward/Center, Michigan State
Mohamed Bamba, Center, Texas
Marvin Bagley III, Forward, Duke
DeAndre Ayton, Center, Arizona
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Guard, Kentucky