I think we can all agree that this draft is very important. Our roster has some Major Issues (like medium-term question marks at everything but our starting forward spots, and immediate need of an extra-extra-large human being who can do basketball stuff better than Jared Jeffries), and we are pretty strapped for cash with which to address these issues. Maybe/hopefully there will be some cap space or exceptions on the other side of this lockout, but who knows. We also have no first round draft pick for next year. Our draft spot this time around at 17 ain't terrible but it's not that great either. We need to get this one right. Like Landry Fields, holy-shit-how-did-we-get-such-a-good-player-this-late right. People say our draft pick has to 'fill a need' and they are correct: we need a game changing player who will help the Knicks take it to the next level for cheap and restock our barren cupboard of trade chips ASAP.
Lots of people this year like Jimmer Fredette or Kenneth Faried. These are two nice, feel-good players, the kind of draft picks you could proudly introduce to your Moms so she could pinch them on the cheek. They stayed in school for four years and broke all manner of records and had really nice tournaments and and they are full of things like "leadership" and "trying really hard." It's enough to make you forget that both of them are 2-3 inches too short for their skill-sets, and racked up gaudy numbers in college playing largely against pretty mediocre competition. Me? I'm good without a 6'2" shooting guard who is too short/slow to guard either backcourt position and can't even remember an offense not built around his chucking, or a 6'7" garbage man who only attempted (not even made, attempted) 13 total jump shots last season and is soon to find out that guarding NBA 3s and 4's is a littttle harder than hanging at the back of the ol' 2-3 zone in the Ohio Valley Conference. I wish them well and all, in fact I wish them long and happy careers (as role players for some other teams). This year, we must eschew the safe choices, the future occupants of the 7th/8th/9th spots in NBA rotations, the guys who are only good at one thing, the kind of "big" men teams take because the actual tall guys with promise are long gone. We gotta roll the dice on someone who could really be a difference-maker. Someone where in a several years people are all "WTF? He was only picked 17th?!?"
I nominate Josh Selby!
So, bad news first: Josh Selby has played only one college season at Kansas and it was like really shitty. 7 points, 2 assists per game... on 37% shooting. Yeah. He started it off with a nine game suspension by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits (from Carmelo Anthony's business manager apparently? So he's already part of the family!) and by the time he got back it was all about the Morris dudes and then he hurt his foot. Not exactly what dreams are made of considering he came in as one of the hottest prospects in his class. But! That is also the good news, because him sucking it up at KU is really the only reason the Knicks will have a crack at him in the draft. If he had even an "eh" freshman year he'd have been a surefire lottery pick, and a good one would have had him in the top 5. Why? Two words: crazy upside.
See, he's easily the most athletic guard prospect outside of Irving: at 6'3" 190ish, he's a lightning quick high-flyer who can go inch for inch, pound for pound with the NBA's current crop of tall, freaky-athletic PGs a la Wall/Rose/Westbrook/Rondo. From mynbadraft.net:
Josh has an ultra talented one on one game fit for the NBA. He has an explosive first step, great acceleration, can stop and go and good upper body strength. Selby’s game is all about getting by his man into the painted area and finishing. He can take contact, hang in the air while completing a difficult shot, he can pull up from all angles, or if a defense is not paying enough attention he will embarrass you with dunks. Selby has the mentality to attack the rim and the athleticism to do that well. In man defense he can get a shot off at will. His energy comes from scoring in bunches, once he gets a couple buckets going to the rim his confidence grows, the defense sags off to defend the drive and he starts making deep shots and becomes un-guardable. When too many defenders collapse on Selby he will make the flashy assist. He is also a good on ball defender. Josh is a guy that looks to make big plays and take over games and has the confidence to do so.
As a pure lead guard he compares favorably to guys that have become stars in the league, as well as guys who have fizzled out or have had difficulty finding a niche. Allen Iverson, Steve Francis, Dajuan Wagner, Jerryd Bayless, Oj Mayo are a few that have similar games and Selby is as talented as all of them. His work ethic, humility, perseverance, are all going to play a big part of how he develops since he will probably not get the freedom he wants right away. Selby could be the steal of the draft. Superstar potential here and will probably go no earlier than middle of 1st rd. If a team tailors a plan to develop him properly they will be richly rewarded. Think Monta Ellis.
Boner yet? But what about his defense? Does he DWTDD? 'Sup, draftexpress.com? Will we need to teach him, teach him how to Douglas?
Defensively, Selby is very aggressive both on and off the ball, showing a strong stance, active hands, and solid fundamentals. He sticks with his man diligently off the ball, keeping his eyes on his ball and the man at all times, while doing a solid job in the passing lanes in spite of his underwhelming length. On the ball, he's prone to being beat by quick first steps due to how far he plays up on his man, but shows good speed when in stride and does a good job getting his hands up to contest shots in the lane. He doesn't see many perimeter shots against him in isolation due to how aggressively he blankets his man.
Neat! He sees the ball and his man. Clyde will be very proud.
Basically, Kansas was not a good fit for him. He was asked to be a spot-up shooter in an offense built around the Morris bros; everyone who has watched him play agrees that he'll benefit from the wide-open game of the NBA (sound familiar?) as his strength is open floor scoring and creating shots for himself (and sometimes others!) with the ball in his hands. He's not a pure point yet though he does have good court vision (sounds like the kind of guy who might benefit from the wisdom of one Chauncey Billups, no?), but would provide an explosive and much needed scoring threat and offensive focal point for a second unit that otherwise features good spot-up shooters (Shawne, Bully, DWTDD when he's at the 2) and defensive role players. He easily has the skills and tools to be an elite guard in the NBA, it's a question of playing in a system that favors his strengths and taking some time to develop his point guard instincts.
Other interesting things about Josh Selby include that Chauncey Billups has been working out with him recently and was impressed; Chad Ford sez the Knicks front office is intrigued; Selby is also friends with Melo from Baltimore; he had a pretty rough childhood full of sad things like watching his friends get pistol-whipped (here is a good/sad article about that).
Now to the video:
Here's him owning the McDonald All-American dunk contest. Toney Douglas don't do this:
Josh Selby (Dunk #1) - 2010 McDonald's High School All American Dunk Contest (via DraftExpress)
Here he is making mere mortals look pathetic in high school:
Is 6'4 Josh Selby The Best PG in the Class of 2010? (09-10 Season Recap) (via Hoopmixtape)
Yup, that's the kid. Best case scenario? He becomes our all-star PG of the future, a Westbook or Rondo of our own, under Chauncey's tutelage. Medium case scenario? He's becomes a dynamic scoring guard off the bench and he's good to have and/or easy to trade. Worst case scenario? Maybe a taller Nate Robinson? (And Nate Robinson would have been a lot more tolerable if he were another six inches taller.)
So do it, Donnie! Live dangerously. Reach for the stars. Draft Selby. Fuck a pick who will be described as like "a taller Bruce Bowen," or "the next Lou Admundson," let's take a chance on someone with superstar upside. We need big dude? Get a veteran garbage man in free agency. You want some boring old, defense-role player combo forward or whatever that D'Antoni will never play? Get Dolan to buy a second round pick have at it, if the dude can't at least stand in the corner and poop like a champ you might as well be drafting me. Draft the point guard with the absolute highest ceiling of the ones on the board? That's more like it.