I think our friend netw3rk has already made a strong historical and logical case in favor of the Knicks using the top pick they'll have this June, not getting cute and trading it (after the draft, because of the angel Ted Stepien) for an established player. Basically:
- Careful player development is the most rewarding exercise an NBA franchise can pursue.
- The idea of a "window" and "win now" is bullshit, especially when the team isn't already good. The Knicks can try to get great during the next four years of Carmelo Anthony without punting one of their best chances to be great for 10 years after it.
- Even if you are insistent on winning NOW, a good rookie is usually better dollar value than a good veteran.
I also happen to think the top of this draft class looks great and is going to produce multiple excellent players, but that's a guess and you could reasonably disagree.
Anyway, I think the real arguments are out there, and I don't have new logic to put forth. The above isn't my whole reason for wanting the Knicks to use this opportunity to draft first, or even fourth.
A big part of it is that I want a career Knick. As a fan -- someone who wants so badly to love this team -- I covet an organic star more than anything. I've been using that word, "organic," for years on P&T about everyone from Iman Shumpert and Danilo Gallinari to Toney Douglas and Landry Fields. I've long dreamed of the Knicks actually developing a centerpiece -- finding a gem, then polishing it into a crown jewel instead of pawning it off for something else prefabricated.
It hasn't happened in my lifetime. Patrick Ewing is the last star the Knicks selected and developed up to and over the peak of his professional career, and that process began 30 years ago. The Knicks haven't achieved anything even close to that success with their own pick since, but they also haven't had as good of a pick.
Look around the league. Look at every team winning games. With minimal exception, a contender's core includes a key cog they drafted with a lottery pick. That's an indicator of good business, and it also seems like the best part of being a fan. I want that feeling. I want to watch a player put on the Knicks hat, then I want to overreact to his performance in Summer League, then I want to watch him struggle, show flashes of potential, absorb smart coaching, withstand doubts and unpleasant rumors, hone his game and his body, grow into our star, sign another contract, and compete for ringz. Then I want him to win multiple championships and retire a Knick and have a statue made in his likeness with a lap I can sit on.
I desperately want all this for Melo and for 2015-2016 Free Agents X, Y, and Z as well, but I bet it's a special kind of feeling when a guy's never worn anything but orange and blue.
So, I think there's a rational argument that the Knicks should use their pick on the star of tomorrow. There's also my own touchy-feely argument, which amounts to: Damn, I want another Ewing so badly, and I think this chance is worth whatever risk is involved. I wouldn't trade it for anybody. The feeling matters just as much as the reason to me, and I suspect I'm not alone in that.