Barring any draft-night trades, the Knicks have another first-round pick this year, which could catapult them into a successful draft.
Not much has changed since we last checked in. The Knicks remain bad, just not nearly as bad as last season. They secured win number 20 on Sunday night against the lowly Detroit Pistons, bumping them down to sixth overall with a 9.0% at winning the lottery.
After witnessing the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies leapfrog their way into the top two, the Knicks “falling” to six or seven should not worry you.
The lottery prospects are what they are at this point, with most of the top guys being international, and the college guys wrapping up the meaningful part of their season. This edition of the board will focus on that extra pick acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Marcus Morris trade.
The great thing about the Clippers pick is that it can move higher than it’s currently projected (27th at the moment), allowing us to extend our bandwidth for the initial look. More important than the names are the positions these prospects play.
This second first-round pick should also follow the BPA (best player available) formula, but should also focus on an area of the roster in desperate need of talent: the wing.
There are not many good wings in this class where the Knicks are picking. Near the top there aren’t many options—not enough to pass on a lead guard. It could be a better play to address the wing with this pick, and as we will see there are a few options worth a look.
Note: Since we are focused on the end of the first round for this edition, the top of the board will remain as is—for now. That will change for the next edition as we refocus on the top prizes of 2020. But that is for another day. Today we take a trip to the end of round one.
Current Record: 20-44, 12th in Eastern Conference
Projected Draft Pick: #6
Chance at #1 Pick: 9.0%
The Cream of the Crop
An absolutely gross game from Anthony Edwards over the weekend against LSU. Edwards finished 6-of-22 from the floor and was just chucking three-pointers with no care in the world, misfiring on 11 of his 12 attempts.
My biggest fear is the Knicks snagging third overall again and talking themselves into Edwards’ potential. I believe he is a good player…and wish him well elsewhere. If he comes to New York, I fear it would be a disaster, partly out of his control.
Guard, Iowa State
Guard, North Carolina
Cole Anthony’s season from hell continued with a poor outing against Duke. Anthony scored just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting. The skill is evident but also is the lack of success UNC has had this season, even when Anthony has played.
The Other Guys
Last year Brandon Clarke hid in plain sight on draft night. It made little sense given how good he was at Gonzaga—he was an analytics darling who aced the eye test. Still, Clarke went 10-15 picks later than he should have. The only possible reason for the fall? His age.
Draft age has very much become a thing, and it could be the trend that allows the Knicks to snag a steal with that L.A. pick. Tyler Bey does everything well on a basketball court. His biggest problem is he is not 19 years old.
To be clear, the 22-year-old junior from Colorado is nowhere near the talent Clarke is, but Bey is a quick twitch athlete who can play either forward spot, and someone the Knicks should have their eyes on. He mostly plays the four right now, and has pieced together some stellar defensive numbers.
Bey has a 3.1 steal percentage and 4.2 block percentage, with the potential to be the thorn in the opposing team’s side. This season he has had a few performances of note in which his defensive presence played a large role, most notably against USC.
Tyler Bey was probably the impact player of the game in Colorado's W over USC. Contested a zillion shots. So many plays that didn't show in his 14-11-3 stat line. Flashed some of the expanding scoring versatility with a 3-ball and face-up move. pic.twitter.com/DJubhIfHdk
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) February 21, 2020
His greatest skills are his awareness and anticipation, and he uses those skills to stop fast breaks, sometimes on his own.
Just a spectacular job by Tyler Bey to break up this fast break. This is not a normal play college defenders make pic.twitter.com/eOklD0Y9Mp
— Mavs Draft (@MavsDraft) February 29, 2020
Bey is an ideal rotation guy who will bring the pedal-to-the-medal mentality the Knicks should want their players to have. He doesn’t need the ball to be productive, and makes a nice pairing with Barrett on the wing. Bey could be the garbage man, freeing Barrett up to worry about scoring.
The same sentiment goes for Kevin Knox, who can benefit even more than Barrett from a Bey pairing. Knox’s defense is not his strong point, but Bey can take on the toughest wing assignment and allow Knox to focus on his offense.
Bey’s 6’7” frame has been a cause for mild concern. As far as the Knicks are concerned they should not be worrying themselves over the measurements when the talent is so visible.
There is reason to buy into his jumper (good looking release, solid 75.0% from the free throw line) and the defense is ready for the pros. At Colorado, Bey has subscribed to the Mitchell Robinson scoring system, getting most of his points right at the rim—a lot of those points on dunks.
Like Robinson, Bey has the tools to expand on that scoring pallet. The only problem the Knicks will have in regards to Bey is whether he is around when they come back on the clock.
Two years ago it was the Bridges: Mikal and Miles. This year we have the Beys, Tyler and Saddiq. Saddiq Bey is the younger of the Beys—who, by the way, are not related—and the more offensively minded.
Bey had a breakout year for Villanova, doubling his scoring average from 8.2 as a freshman to 16.1 this season. His field goal percentage has seen a dip due to the increased attempts, however, his three-point percentage has actually crept up from 37.4% to 45.1%, on more attempts per game.
The appeal with Bey is mainly his shooting. He has a quick release and is more than capable of moving without the ball. During his 33-point explosion against Georgetown, his best performance of the season, you got a look at what Bey can be at the next level as a floor spacer.
If the Knicks want to deviate from the bully iso-ball, a selection like Bey is a step in the right direction. He isn’t nearly the defensive menace that Tyler Bey is, and can continue to be, but Saddiq’s shot looks like it will translate immediately.
Bey comes from a trustworthy program, with Jay Wright developing solid NBA players like Eric Paschall, Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson, and Mikal Bridges (before they ruined his shot). Bey would be a nice fit out on the wing where the Knicks can use some shooting.
Where Bey fits is the only true mystery. He can play either forward position at 6’8”, making him a possible pairing with someone like Damyean Dotson, Barrett, or Ignas Brazdeikis. The issue with having Bey out there with Brazdeikis or Knox is, the pain tolerance for some bad defense.
Bey isn’t a turnstile, but there are mismatches that can leave him vulnerable.
Myles Powell just shook Saddiq Bey back to chemistry class
— Thiago (@TScabbia) February 8, 2020
He becomes a more attractive selection the later the Knicks pick. If the Clippers pick remains in the 27-30 range, Bey is a relatively easy selection to make. If the pick creeps into the mid-20’s, though, weighing the shooting against any possible cons becomes a consideration.
Major middle finger to the NCAA for robbing us of Memphis being a fun watch. Without James Wiseman, the appeal of the Tigers declined significantly. The lack of interest has seen The Bronx, New York, native Precious Achiuwa slip from a lottery pick, to a mid-first-rounder, to now a fringe second-rounder. Is the slip a reflection of his play or is Achiuwa a diamond in the rough?
Yes and no. Achiuwa shares similar strength to Nassir Little, the free-faller from last year’s class: tenacious rebounding. Achiuwa averages 10.6 rebounds per game, and pulls down an impressive 24.7% of defensive rebounds. His block percentage is also impressive at 6.6.
His initial impact will clearly be on the defensive end of the floor. He has the frame (6’9” with 7’2” wingspan) to play either forward position. Who he shares the floor with is what matters. He would be an ideal fit next to high usage scorers like Barrett, Julius Randle, Allonzo Trier—you get the picture. When he is on the floor early on, defensive ace should be his goal.
The rest of Achiuwa’s game will require hard work from the team that drafts him. There is an offensive game within him, it’s just not consistent.
Achiwa’s shooting numbers across the board are poor, particularly from the free throw line, where he hits an anemic 58.8%. Free throw shooting was already an issue with the Knicks, adding another person who can’t connect on freebies is a tough ask. If Achiuwa does develop into a two-way force it will take time, of which the Knicks should have plenty.
In the meantime, these are the plays fans could expect should the New York native come home.
.@Memphis_MBB freshman forward prospect Precious Achiuwa jumps the passing lane, recovers the ball + goes coast-to-coast for an emphatic slam dunk midway through the 2nd half against #cincinnati on ESPN. Achiuwa has great mobility for a player who is 6-9 with a 7’1.5” wingspan pic.twitter.com/OZsLsAjhG8
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) January 17, 2020
Not a bad starting point.
Vernon Carey Jr.
In another lifetime, the Knicks landing Vernon Carey is an absolute steal. Carey has been one of the best players on one of the best teams in the nation. He knows what he is good at and stays in his lane. So, what’s the problem? He plays a position the Knicks have covered.
Carey generates most if not all his offense down low. He has attempted 21 three-pointers this season instead of making all his money in the paint. That formula has worked well for Carey and for Duke, as the big averages 17.8 points per game on 57.7% shooting.
One area that Carey can excel at the next level is rim running. He is athletic for his size with good hands, which makes him a good candidate to get out and run.
Using a first-round pick on a backup center isn’t ideal, especially when the Knicks are so barren elsewhere, but Carey is a selection who should not be criticized. Taj Gibson should not be playing major minutes next season, and the jury is still out on Randle’s long-term status.
Carey is a nice security blanket for Mitchell Robinson, and can fulfill many of the functions needed to be a competent reserve. The one part of his game that is missing is a jumper, but that doesn’t seem to bother Robinson too much. Depending what is available when the Knicks choose, Carey should be near the top of the board if the wing prospects available aren’t appealing.
Relax, I am well aware that Jaden McDaniels is a cut above most of the players on this board. The reason McDaniels checks in so low is he only becomes a legitimate option if two things happen. First, McDaniels has to slip pretty far, which is entirely possible after an up-and-down year at Washington. The second thing is for the Clippers pick to be closer to 25th overall.
McDaniels has the frame and foundation to be a special player, if developed correctly. He is a bit of a blank canvas prospect like Knox was coming out of Kentucky, and he has disappeared from games like Knox would do on occasion. But when McDaniels is cooking, you can vividly see the potential.
McDaniels has tremendous size and smoothness to his game that makes it easy to talk yourself into him being something more. I am not subscribing to the young Kevin Durant hype, not in the least bit. I am, however, buying into a high ceiling if developed properly.
His biggest problem is his assertiveness, which trickles into his consistency. He is shooting a cool 40.7% from the field this season and averaging a meager 13.1 points—not the numbers you expect for someone drawing KD comparisons. But it’s hard not to be intrigued with his potential.
If McDaniels were to free fall it would be because teams don’t know what to do with him, and even then the Knicks would likely have to leapfrog a few teams to grab him. His teammate, Isaiah Stewart, is more likely to fall, but McDaniels is the Huskie with which the front office should be enamored.
Should McDaniels be developed properly, the Knicks would have another young scorer to grow with Barrett and whoever they select with their lottery pick. Before we can even dream of that scoring trio, or duo, a heavy investment in McDaniels is required.
If he ends up in New York it should be under the expectation that a lengthy tour in the G League will comprise most of his rookie season. McDaniels disappears in plain sight far too often, and it’s because he doesn’t have a go-to move or function on the floor—he’s all talent.
We saw the dangers of forcing such a player to learn by playing out of his element firsthand with Knox. Hopefully the lessons learned from Knox’s first two years will lead to a smart development plan with someone of McDaniels’ talent. If they do, this could be quite the steal.
Other names to keep tabs on: Jalen Smith (Maryland), Reggie Perry (Miss. State), Cassius Winston (Michigan St.), Killian Tillie (Gonzaga)
The TKW Draft Board will return…