With this season securely gone to shit, our one source of hope is the upcoming lottery and NBA draft. At the moment, the Knicks are the fifth-worst team in the NBA. New York currently has about an 8.8% chance of winning the first pick, and will more likely draft around the fifth spot. So, for the moment, let's put aside any aspirations of acquiring Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose.
The first question for a bad team at the draft is whether to address specific needs or to just select the best player available. There are risks to both. Drafting by position, you might pass over a star. Drafting by player, you might be faced with a bad fit. So what of New York? The Knicks suck, no doubt, but we've got sufficient and quality personnel at several positions. This is open to discussion, but I'm of the belief that the right kind of help at the two most specialized positions, point guard and/or center, could do wonders in improving this team. Assuming that Stephon Marbury is out of the long-term equation and the EZ Money tandem has been deemed a failure, there's room at both positions. Let's look at some of the available guys.
Point Guard- In a point guard, I'd like to see a real leader with a positive attitude, good IQ, and an ability to distribute and defend, even at the expense of athletic ability and size. A few guys that might fit the need:
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
D.J. Augustin, Texas
Darren Collison, UCLA
Ty Lawson, UNC
Russell Westbrook, UCLA
I'm particularly interested in Westbrook, who isn't even projected in the first round in some mocks, but has shown marked improvement and might see a jump in value with good play in the tournament.
Center: I'm of the opinion that the Knicks could use a tall, mobile center with a defensive mindset to play comfortably alongside Randolph or Lee. Shooting ability and general offensive skills other than passing are less important. Some possibilities:
Brook Lopez, Stanford
DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
Now, not all these guys exactly fit my descriptions, and some of them are probably long shots at the 5 spot. I do feel that each of them reflects part of what I'd like to see on an improving Knick team. A look at a number of the up-and-coming teams of the past few years (New Orleans, Utah, Portland for starters) leads me to believe that focused drafting is the cheap, painless way to improvement. I open it up to you guys, though. Are the needs I mentioned in tune with your own feelings? Are there any players I left out/wrongfully included? Are some guys (Gordon, Mayo for instance) too good to pass up, regardless of need? Which need is the most dire? I'm sure most of you know more of today's college players than I do, so offer up your thoughts. We'll be more talking more and more on the draft in the next couple of months, so keep an eye on college and foreign ball, tool around with the lottery machine, and feel free to share what you know.