Talk about a spicy way to kick off the Knicks news cycle the week before Memorial Day. Well, it somewhat started last week as Trae Young’s father, Ray, told the New York Daily News that his son wants the spotlight of Madison Square Garden. “That’s what Trae lives for,” Ray Young said. “He lives for that type of stuff. Just think about it: He’s probably the most talked about, most publicized kid in this draft and he’s been through it all.”
But there are just typical quotes from fathers of prospects, or even their college coaches, right? Talk up the player, saying how Player X is a perfect fit and wants to play for Team Y. Nothing really to see here, folks.
Not so fast, apparently. According to a report by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor earlier today, leagues sources told him that “the Knicks have the hots for the Oklahoma point guard.” As O’Connor also noted, it appears that the interest is mutual. O’Connor continued by assessing Young’s fit on the Knicks:
It’s easy to understand why: Young is an ideal fit alongside Frank Ntilikina, whom the Knicks view as a 2-guard who can occasionally run the offense. Ntilikina could space the floor to allow Young to work his magic on the ball; conversely, Young could race through screens off the ball to get open for 3s while Ntilikina initiates the offense. It’d be a perfect pairing to ease the workload on Kristaps Porzingis.
Unless he’s covered. Ntilikina, 19, already defends like a veteran, so he can take the tougher backcourt player and mitigate Young’s primary weakness. It’s unclear if Young will be available when the Knicks pick at no. 9. The Magic (no. 6) and Cavaliers (no. 8) both need point guards and have been connected to Young; after all, LeBron James did give Young his blessing. But fit is king in the NBA, and New York would provide Young both the ideal personnel and stage to perform.
For what it’s worth, I do agree with O’Connor’s assessment, to a degree. Unless both M. Birdges — you know, the combo forwards with an ‘i’ and ‘l’ in their first names that can shoot three-pointers — are off the board by pick 9 (it’s more than likely one of them will be available), selecting Trae Young does make sense for New York. I completely understand that the 178 pounds and 6-foot-2 guard with a unimpressive 6-foot-3 wingspan is almost a guarantee to be a defensive liability in the NBA; however, you can make the argument that joining the Knicks would be one of the best situations for Young to reach his potential.
If you want to have a debate about his offensive ceiling, that’s also a fair topic of discussion. But Young, despite playing with a not-so-good Oklahoma team that based the entire offense around him (37.1 USG%), somehow managed to have a positive hPPR figure (0.28). Trae passing and shooting abilities should be able to flourish more playing with a primary option in Porzingis, a scoring wing in Tim Hardaway Jr., and a secondary playmaker in Frank Ntilikina.
This may be a hot-button topic as Young is quite the polarizing prospect, but the New York brass has interest, and it’s not that terrible of an idea — given very specific circumstances, though.