The Knicks could add a huge boost to their burgeoning young core under a new regime with a pair of first-round draft picks next month.
The New York Knicks are not accustomed to having an embarrassment of riches, particularly when it comes to the NBA draft. They have rarely had multiple first-round picks. To be exact they have had more than one first-round pick six times in franchise history, the last time being in 2006 when they flushed a pair of picks on Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins.
For the sake of the fans, Leon Rose will hope to replicate the 2005 draft, which netted Channing Frye and David Lee. To draw further parallels to the ‘05 draft, Frye was taken eighth overall and Lee 30th. Could Rose yield similar success? Yes. How is the more accurate question.
Depending on what happens at eight, there could be a more fleshed out plan at 27. The plan should be to add much-needed shooting and build out that bench mob. There are plenty of prospects who could fit the bill, and if the draft is as unpredictable as we all expect it to be, having a healthy list of targets couldn’t hurt.
The Knicks may ultimately use 27 in a trade package for Chris Paul, Victor Oladipo, or a move up into the middle of the first round. For argument’s sake, let us assume no deal is consummated on draft night and they use the three picks they currently have. Who should be the players at the top of their list?
Let’s take a look.
Draft Picks: 8, 27, 38
The Other (First-Round) Pick
Desmond Bane would be such a perfect fit at 27 that it’s impossible that he is actually on the board by then. Depending how big a fan team brass is of Bane, they may have to plan a move up if they truly want the sharpshooter out of TCU. If Tom Thibodeau has a say—which he reportedly does—Leon Rose should have plans prepared to make to land Bane.
In four years at TCU, Bane shot the ball extremely well, finishing with a 43.3% career average. Taking into account his 6.5 attempts in his final season, his 44.2% senior year average from deep is most impressive. The smooth release behind that sterling percentage makes you love his shot even more (if that were possible).
How many do you see in a row 👀 pic.twitter.com/JuFBylAOn0
— Desmond Bane (@DBane0625) October 1, 2020
Bane and Thibdoeau’s ethos are one and the same. Thibodeau wants to play defense and hit threes; Bane wants to hit threes and play defense. There is so much to like about Bane, which is why he fits all 30 teams. His marksmanship is desperately needed as is his ability to defend.
The great thing about Bane the person is he does his homework to refine his strengths in order to make up for any shortcomings. Awareness is a desirable trait and Bane does not lack it. He knows he is no athletic marvel, which explains his constant movement without the ball.
Here is a taste of the myriad of movements of which Bane can get his shot out.
NBA Prospect Play of the Day: TCU's Desmond Bane does a great job scoring/facilitating out of 'off ball screens'. Can sprint/fade into 3s, curl into jumpers/floaters or drop off to the big. High IQ, shoots it easy. Also comfortable playing PnR @ 6-6. Young senior at 21 years old. pic.twitter.com/lmscXghF7S
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 27, 2020
If you watch enough clips you will notice Bane’s movement looks familiar. Bane models his game after some fellow athletically-modest sharpshooters such as J.J. Redick and Joe Harris.
When speaking with reporters last week Bane talked about studying Harris’ game.
“That’s actually the guy that I study a lot in the NBA, just because we’re similar size, we played four years, he’s a tough guy, makes shots off a lot of different movements, can play off of handoffs and things like that,” Bane told the New York Post. “So that’s somebody that I really try to model my game after. He’s had great success in the Brooklyn organization and I feel like I could have similar success.”
Bane’s energy carries over to defense where he pesters opponents. His workman mentality fits the profile of a guy who will endear himself to the Garden faithful as well as Thibodeau. While the starting lineup should remain the highest priority remodeling the bench mob should not be far down the priority list. Bane is the quintessential lunch pail player who Thibodeau can trust to make the most of whatever minutes he receives.
The main conflict with Bane is he might not be around enough to take. The Phoenix Suns—who ignored projected draft slots last season by taking Cam Johnson 11th overall—are big fans of Bane and they likely are not alone.
The current depth chart at point guard is Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr., with an Elfrid Payton return possible but unlikely. Even throwing Payton into the mix there is a common thread with all three players: they can’t shoot. Tyrell Terry changes that dynamic.
Last season defenses could comfortably go under the screen and live with the 27th best three-point shooting team to beat you from three. That would not be the case with Terry.
Tyrell Terry's Shooting Numbers:
40.8% (62-152) – All 3s
50.8% (30-59) – All C&S 3s in the HC
56.3% (18-32) – Guarded C&S 3s
42.1% (16-38) – Spot Up No Dribble 3s
32.9% (23-70) – OTD 3s in the HC
Very impressive shooter & was amazing in C&S situations this year pic.twitter.com/NHxnnF3Fpu
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) April 7, 2020
Terry’s quick release and comfort hitting off-the-catch or off-the-dribble has the potential to wreak havoc. He could slide into the second unit from day one and possibly develop into something more. In New York he would get every opportunity to shine and at first glance he complements the team’s three best young players well.
Sharing the floor with R.J. Barrett or Ntilikina, Terry could be a lethal catch-and-shoot threat, and just as easily grow into a playmaker in his own right. His size was one of the only worries I have seen. Terry was initially listed as 6’1”, but could be more like 6’3” with 20 pounds added muscle.
If true, Terry could play himself into a serious role early on.
That leaves playmaking as his main area of possible concern. He averaged just 3.2 assists at Stanford but the vision is there.
Whew this pass from Tyrell Terry. pic.twitter.com/uyilmd3C9j
— Will Rucker💤 (@Will_Rucker3_AD) August 17, 2020
Terry’s vision exists on both ends of the floor. While he may not be a lanky wing he does a great job jumping the passing lane.
This type of activity on defense is what puts a smile on Thibodeau’s face.
Awesome, awesome anticipation by Tyrell Terry to jump the Okongwu pass out of the double pic.twitter.com/KUnijogPxR
— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) February 11, 2020
Opportunity is the variable in determining Terry’s ceiling, which is why New York could be one of his best landing spots. There is not much depth at the point, and he complements the existing depth. Tom Thibodeau is not a talent suppressor, if Terry shows something Thibodeau will give him carte blanche.
Terry has good signs on him and could slide down to 27 or go at the end of the lottery. As most players in this class his range is wide. Selecting Terry is a no brainer for if the team doesn’t go guard with the first pick, and is also someone worth moving up a few slots for.
You can never have too much shooting. In the case of the Knicks they can simply use shooting. Isaiah Joe satisfies any imaginable shooting need, and can also be a great alternative if Desmond Bane is unavailable at 27. In that same breath, Joe would be a dream scenario at 38th overall with Bane.
The reason for my infatuation with a name many may not know nearly as well is simple: Joe can shoot that thing and shoot it well. His 34.4% from three makes that statement sound like a reach, which is where the eye test comes into play.
Isaiah Joe from WAAAYY DOWNTOWN!!! Hogs lead N.Texas by 12! pic.twitter.com/FWrHpxUICJ
— Sharp Williams (@SharpTusk) November 13, 2019
To further back up the claim that Joe is a top-two sniper in this class, in some order with Bane, it should be pointed out that he averaged 10.0 three-point attempts this season, and hit 41.4% from three as a freshman. His release is one of the cleanest I’ve seen, once again measuring up to Bane in that regard.
That smooth release holds up off-the-catch and pull-ups equally.
Isaiah Joe is more than an off-ball shooter. He's a legit pull-up shooter and space creator, having ranked in the 89th and 97th percentile off-the-dribble through 2 collegiate seasons.
Draft this man in the top 30. pic.twitter.com/6sGXvOs60g
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 4, 2020
The best case is some teams read too much into Joe’s dip in three-point percentage and leave him on the board. There is no one remotely close to Joe on the roster at the moment.
Imagine how much more effective someone like Barrett or Smith Jr. would be if a threat like Joe was waiting on the wing ready to launch.
Isaiah Joe’s shot-prep is absolutely flawless. Maximizes his space by sliding on the catch, times the dip perfectly with his two-foot hop and rises right into it. Makes an incredibly nuanced shot look so easy. pic.twitter.com/W6nKUrIOAQ
— Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint) September 9, 2020
Joe is competent on the other side of the floor, too, further cementing his case as one of the more intriguing 3-and-D prospects no one is talking nearly enough about. He has a solid 2.2 steal percentage and is a solid team defender and respectable individual defender.
Isaiah Joe gets a ton of deserved credit for his team defense (see a bit of that with the dig here), but probably doesn't get enough credit for his individual defense. Physical on-ball defender whose footwork on screen navigation and lateral movement can be really good pic.twitter.com/D1oieLnivo
— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) August 25, 2020
The wholeness to Joe’s game is the reason he is on this board and not the second-round board—although he would be a massive steal outside of the first round—and is another example of the type of player that Thibodeau envisions on his squad.
Operating under the assumption that Jalen Smith is too good to even consider being available at 27, Isaiah Stewart makes his debut. Stewart started the season as a lottery-projected pick but has since fallen towards the back of the first round for reasons I cannot explain. He is a chiseled 6’9”, 245-pound big who does everything you want in a big. The one flag—and make no mistake, “flag” is doing a lot of work here—with Stewart is he has a throwback game.
Stewart cleans the glass and scores down low as good as any traditional big. In today’s climate such proficiency is somehow categorized as a slight by some who may see his lack of shooting as a turnoff. Stewart rarely veered away from the paint but there are some reasons to buy his development as a floor spacer to some extent.
Called me old fashioned, but I always have room for a glass cleaner with bully potential. Stewart at the bare minimum can be a rim-running rebounder who gives you a solid 15 to 20 minutes a night.
At Washington, Stewart made the paint his residence and the variety in which he got his shots off down low was impressive. Stewart often positioned himself well for entry passes and for offensive boards.
The intrigue lies in how far Stewart can extend his offense. He had a nice fader from down low, and his mechanics are solid, which gives me reason to be bullish on him becoming a well-rounded scorer.
While he did most of his damage in the paint at UW, Isaiah Stewart has the shooting mechanics and touch to eventually stretch it to 3 at the NBA level. Shot 77% from the free throw line this year. pic.twitter.com/FrMNG2As3I
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) April 1, 2020
He did not shoot a lot of threes in college, he shot 20 total from deep, but there is a reason to believe this can become a consistent part of his game.
Really impressed with how smooth this shot is for Isaiah Stewart popping out for the catch & shoot pic.twitter.com/ExxYV2n9vR
— Mavs Draft (@MavsDraft) March 1, 2020
The presence of Taj Gibson is where Stewart becomes a desirable target. Stewart already has a Gibson-like mid-range jumper in his bag. By all accounts Stewart is a hard worker and the type of player the Knicks have looked to target. The common thread among all the young guys—even everyone’s favorite wing, Kevin Knox—is they are gym rats. Simply judging off his chiseled frame it’s safe to assume Stewart has no quarrels putting in the work.
Stewart’s future could look a lot like Gibson’s; a solid four who can play small ball five, rebound, play defense and above all, play hard. Gibson is already taken on a mentor role with other players such as Barrett and Kenny Wooten, Stewart could be Gibson’s greatest Padawan.
There is a strong chance that Stewart will be available to snag at 27. Unlike Tyrell Terry, whose fate would hinge on what happens at eight, Stewart does not have to worry about such overlap barring an Obi Toppin slide. Assuming that doesn’t happen Stewart would be a value add to a team that has desperately tried to convince its fans that the culture has changed.
Tyler Bey is the only player who has stuck around for every iteration of this board and for good reason. His 3-and-D potential remains the allure. Bey’s floor, assuming his jumper or willingness to shoot that jumper lacks, is a plus-defender. A defensive savant such as Thibodeau will find work for a terrorizing wing who proved proficient in any defensive measure.
Bey played a lot of small-ball four at Colorado, which could be an interesting look in New York. This is a new NBA, one where a 6’5” P.J. Tucker can play center. Bey has had moments where he is a one-man wrecking crew. Efforts such as this will keep steady minutes flowing his way.
Unreal Tyler Bey transition defense, single-handedly stopping a 3 on 1 break, perfect verticality on the contest (and picks up the block) pic.twitter.com/8wJhCEi1WM
— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) July 14, 2020
The key though for Bey is his offense. We already know he will be a good defender, and for an older prospect teams would like to know exactly what they are getting. The mystery box that is Bey’s offensive game is what will keep him in the backend of the first round or possibly early second round.
If Bey can hit this on a semi-regular basis, now you are talking about great value in the middle of the draft.
Tyler Bey — reluctant to look get his 3PT jumper in the air vs. Stanford, on either pick-and-pops or spot-ups. But nice movement 3 off the pindown. (Fair number of teams go to this 1-4 flex look on BLOB plays)
Bey: 19-42 FGA catch-and-shoots (61 eFG%), 5-8 FGA off screens pic.twitter.com/r98tu2yfdz
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) June 27, 2020
His malleable 6’7”, 216-pound frame will allow him to play either wing spot and realistically be able to guard every position on the floor. An addition of Bey yields similar value to taking someone like Precious Achiuwa earlier in the first round; take them for their defense and anything they give you on offense is a bonus.