Zach Edey has the potential to play a key role on next year’s Knicks, should he be available for the taking.

The Journey

Zach Edey is one of the most decorated college basketball players of this generation, winning consecutive National Player of the Year awards in 2023 and 2024 while leading the Purdue Boilermakers to a National Title birth, where they ultimately fell short to powerhouse UConn Huskies.

The 7’4, 300-pound monster is an old-school, throwback baller in more ways than one. Edey is one of the rare four-year single-college players nowadays, electing not to jump to the NBA early or transfer, like we see so often in NCAA athletics. Stylistically, Edey is your classic back-to-the-basket big man, who lives and thrives in the post and displays dominance in the frontcourt, throwing down thunderous dunks and drawing immense attention when he gets the ball thrown into him.

The Toronto native began his basketball journey at Leaside High School and eventually transferred to the well-known IMG Academy in Florida where he really didn’t get a ton of attention and minutes, backing up current Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams. Edey went on to suit up for Matt Painter and Purdue and improved yearly, starting off his career at 8.7 points per game as a freshman and finishing his senior season at 25.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, per ESPN Stats.

Edey’s 2024 tournament run was one for the ages as well, averaging 29.5 points in the Dance, including an epic 40-point night against Tennessee in the Elite 8.

With Edey gearing up for the NBA Draft, he is one of the most polarizing prospects we’ve seen in a while. Due to his size, huge stats and overall dominance at Purdue, is he a lock to be a productive big at the NBA level, or is his lack of athleticism going to hinder him and is his style of play too outdated to have staying power? In what is considered a weak draft class, Edey has the chance to be the most notable player of the 2024 class, while also having the chance to be another college star who doesn’t cut in the Association.

With the Knicks selecting 24th and 25th overall in the upcoming draft and the unpredictability of who will be selected where there’s a chance the Knicks have the opportunity to bring Edey to the Big Apple. Does a move like this make sense for the ‘Bockers?

Strengths

Size, size, size. In a league that rewards teams with ample size, Edey is a huge body that is very difficult to move and out-physical. Edey is also very well built for his stature and is not too skinny as we see from a lot of taller draft prospects. He’s got a good base and is not fragile, which will hopefully keep him away from lower-body injuries at the next level.

Not only is he able to establish position in the paint where he wants but is able to use his 7’11 wingspan to get hook shots up over smaller defenders, grab contested rebounds and block shots without hacking or trying to play out of control.

Additionally, while watching the big man, you notice he is always focused and does not stoop to the level of whining at refs or talking too much trash visibly. He goes about his business with a very controlled intensity and determination that makes him very tough to crack mentally. Obviously the size and strength at the NBA level is much different than in college, but being in high-pressure games throughout his career, I would think he’s built to handle the physicality and pressure of the pros.

Weaknesses

Edey, despite his big-time college numbers, is a relatively limited offensive player, who can only really do his work around the basket. Bigs who can stretch the floor like Karl-Anthony Towns, Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren are so difficult to contain and so valuable, however Edey has not proven to have developed any sort of outside shot and could be ineffective if you throw the numerous bodies at him down low.

Where he is also lagging behind those other bigs is the fact that he is a bit of a slow-moving player and kind of lumbers up and down the court, which is a bit of a concern, considering the NBA is generally more fast paced. It’s hard to imagine Edey being a guy who plays more than 25 minutes per night, as I just don’t envision him being able to keep up with the run and gun nature of the pros.

He also is not very effective, due to lack of experience, as a pick-and-roll player and despite his size, is very deliberate in his overall movements, especially his contests where he can be exposed by a smaller more twitchy player.

Fit With Knicks

As we know, the Knicks’ big man situation is in limbo a bit right now, with Isaiah Hartenstein heading to free agency and Mitchell Robinson being brought up in some potential trade rumors. I-Hart to me is an imperative guy to resign, due to his overall athleticism and value during crunch time moments.

If the Knicks do end up drafting Edey, I believe the writing is on the wall for Mitch, who has struggled to escape the injury bug and is unavailable too much to be relied upon. While Mitch is more athletic and could theoretically get up and down the court better than Edey, I’d rather move on from Robinson and use Edey, I-Hart and likely Precious Achiuwa at the five, giving a nice balance of size, athleticism and intensity across all three of those guys. Also, if the Knicks end up bringing in a stretch four like Lauri Markkanen, he can fit right in with any of those guys and complement the frontcourt well.

If Edey is still available, he could be worth taking a flyer on given the experience, pedigree and toughness he brings as an NBA big. This Knicks regime has seen tremendous draft success and I am confident Edey can work here, as long as there are other established bigs in the fold who can spell Edey and allow him to give an effective 20 or so minutes per game.

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