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Knicks Mock Draft Roundup: 4/24/18

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It’s draft season, baby!

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, know what time it is?

Clearly not Lillard time! Ba-dum-tsss

Nah, it’s mock draft time! The NBA playoffs might be in full force (and fully entertaining), but we Knicks fans know what’s really important — trying to sift through every mock draft available to crack the code and figure out who the newest Knick will be in two months.

These lists will come out once a week, updating you on who the experts say the Knicks will be picking in the draft. For this first edition, I’m only focusing on mocks that were updated close to or since the end of the regular season, with the correct pre-draft lottery pick positioning. More will be added over time.

So, without further adieu, here’s the extensive first edition of this year’s mock draft roundup:

New entries:

Sports Illustrated: The Knicks select Mikal Bridges, junior F, Villanova. This is definitely the pick that a lot of Knicks fans would love to see. Bridges has championship pedigree, and plays a brand of basketball that is essential in today’s NBA — defends well on one end, and has a deadly 3-point shot and knows his spots on the other end. (Last update: 4/19)

The Knicks could use a wing player, and Bridges is a pretty safe bet to become useful as a plus defender and perimeter scorer. He’s a smooth athlete whose ability to space the floor and guard multiple positions makes him an easy theoretical fit in any lineup. Creating his own shot off the dribble is a weakness, but as a secondary scorer, Bridges has room to improve and give you enough everywhere else. However, he may not have the upside of others in this range.

Bleacher Report: The Knicks select Wendell Carter Jr., freshman F/C, Duke. Carter’s a name that could be floated to the Knicks often as the draft process plays out. A mobile big who rebounds and blocks well and has a decent outside shot, the main question with Carter is how well he would fit with Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks pass on Kevin Knox, Miles Bridges and Collin Sexton in this mock (and Mikal Bridges goes two picks prior). (Last update: 4/23)

CBS Sports: The Knicks select Wendell Carter Jr., freshman F/C, Duke. I just said you’d probably see this guy’s name a lot, right? Here’s an interesting stat: of all players on Duke this season that played at least 11 minutes per game, Carter led the team with his 41.3 percent mark from 3. Only 1.2 attempts per game, but still, interesting! (Last update: 4/16)

Is it possible to have a great freshman season but still be overshadowed by a teammate? Yes. And that’s exactly what happened to Carter -- who averaged 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 2.0 assists in 26.9 minutes per game for a Duke team that advanced to the Elite Eight. Carter’s biggest problem, frankly, was that he wasn’t Bagley, who is a better player and prospect. But the 6-10 forward is still a very good player and a very good prospect. And he’s the reason why Duke should have two top-10 picks come June.

SB Nation: The Knicks select Mikal Bridges, junior F, Villanova. Another vote for Bridges, who will also be a popular choice for the Knicks. Here’s another fun fact: Bridges apparently had a 7-foot-2 wingspan. If you combine that with Frank Ntilikina (seven feet) and Kristaps Porzingis (7-foot-6), you’d have a combined wingspan that matches the length of a particularly large reticulated python — the longest snake on Earth! (Last update: 4/12)

Bridges’ relative limitations of an offensive creator might fool you into thinking he doesn’t have a high ceiling. The truth is that Bridges’ refined 3-and-D game is the type of skill set that can immediately elevate the value of all of his teammates. He’s worked his way into a knockdown shooter at Villanova over four years, topping out at 43.5 percent on six attempts per game this season. He’s also a long-armed, agile defender who can check a variety of players and use his combination of instincts and length to make big plays. Really good 3-and-D guys are immensely valuable, and that’s why Mikal Bridges deserves to be a top-10 pick.

NBADraft.net: The Knicks select Wendell Carter Jr., freshman F/C, Duke. I was initially surprised to see Carter popping up so many times, but the composition of this draft is very heavy on big men at the top. That could either be a blessing or a curse to the Knicks: on one hand, they could get a player like Carter that, in another year, might be a top 5 pick. On the other hand, it could potentially put them in a pickle of selecting a guy that’s not necessarily the best fit, but is the best player available. Like in this mock, where they pick Carter over three wings (both of the Bridgeses and Knox). (Last update: 3/29)

Carter’s outside shot showed a lot of growth as the season progressed. He isn’t a speed burner and figures to fit in better with some of the more methodical offensive teams in the league. His 7’3 wingspan gives him the ability to play bigger than his 6’10 size allowing him to more easily recover defensively as well as rebound more effectively. Carter’s work ethic and determination are rare for a freshman. He showed a tendency to let situations get the better of him and lose his cool emotionally, but that’s an area that he should be able to improve upon with age and experience. Despite a disappointing close to the year, battling some bumps and bruises, he remains in good standing with NBA teams as one of the most skilled and highest rated bigs in the draft.

Basketball Insiders: The Knicks select Mikal Bridges, junior F, Villanova. Carter, Bridges, Carter, Bridges. Back and forth we go. In this instance, Carter’s off the board and the Knicks pass on Miles Bridges, Sexton and Knox. Bridges led the national champion Wildcats in... well, almost every advanced or traditional statistic this year. He good.

Bonus points: B-ball Insiders also mocked the entire second round, and had Bridges’ teammate Jalen Brunson going to the Knicks in that round. (Last update: 4/24)

Sporting News: The Knicks select Collin Sexton, freshman PG, Alabama. Full disclosure, this would be about the worst possible outcome to me. With Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke on board and the Emmanuel Mudiay reclamation project probably worth giving another shot under a new coach, Sexton would be the definition of redundant. However, he is a talented player. Just maybe not a pressing need for the Knicks, especially since they pass over Carter, Miles Bridges and Knox in this mock. (Last update: 4/24)

The Knicks largely just need talent, but it’s hard to ignore the glaring need to fill the point guard spot presuming Frank Ntilikina isn’t viewed as a long-term solution there. Despite the late-season surge from Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Sexton remains the draft’s second-best point guard prospect.

The 19-year-old is a competitive force, and his presence alongside Ntilikina would give the Knicks an interesting defensive backcourt in time. Offensively, Sexton’s game runs downhill. He’s intent on getting to the rim. However, he still needs to develop into an above average 3-point shooter to be a more well-rounded offensive player.

ESPN: The Knicks select Collin Sexton, freshman PG, Alabama. Ugh. I’ll give ESPN a pass here, because they have this fun lottery simulator page. If you try hard enough, you can get the Knicks Luka Doncic! (Last update: 4/13)

Frank Ntilikina has had some nice rookie moments, but the Knicks are finding out that the long-armed 6-foot-5 guard seems better suited playing alongside a more dominant ball handler and shot creator who can take some of the scoring responsibilities off his shoulders.

Enter Sexton, with his tremendous aggressiveness driving the lane, taking off-the-dribble jumpers and putting defensive pressure on opposing guards. NBA teams have some concerns about Sexton’s decision-making and reckless style of play. Fiercely competitive, Sexton has shown enough flashes in the right areas to be comfortably projected as a starting-caliber point guard with plenty of upside to grow into.

Heavy: The Knicks select Mikal Bridges, junior F, Villanova. Another vote for Mikal. Another Bridges fact: he was fourth in offensive win shares (5.4) and third in overall win shares (7.7) this season as he helped lead Nova to the championship. (Last update: 4/21)

It would not be a stretch for Bridges to go inside the top five given his skill set is so valuable. We frequently refer to draft prospects as potential three-and-D guy, but often these are players that are selected later in the draft who only possess one of these two skill sets. Bridges shot at a high level from three at Villanova, shooting 43.5 percent from behind the arc last season. He also comes into the league with strong defensive ability, meaning he is one of the best three-and-D players we have seen come out in recent years.

Knicks Mock Draft Power Rankings v1.0

  1. Mikal Bridges, junior F, Villanova (4 mocks)
  2. Wendell Carter Jr., freshman F/C, Duke (3 mocks)
  3. Collin Sexton, freshman PG, Alabama (2 mocks)