The NBA draft is rapidly approaching and the Knicks appear to be dutifully doing their due diligence, as the team is reportedly scheduling meetings and workouts aplenty, including with prospective lottery picks R.J. Barrett and Jarrett Culver and potential second round selections like Tacko Fall and Marques Bolden.
Remember when Phil Jackson hired Derek Fisher after Steve Kerr decided to coach the Golden State Warriors instead of the Knicks, and then when it came time to fire him and hire Jeff Hornacek everyone was desperate for the team to conduct a real, thorough coaching search?
Luckily, the current front office duo of Scott Perry and Steve Mills do not believe in the “do no research” mantra of the Zen Master, as they seem to understand that due diligence is their friend. With draft night only a few weeks away, they are meeting with prospects at a torrid pace.
Let’s take a look at who the Knicks are looking at, which of those players they are planning to meet with, and why.
R.J. Barrett, Duke
Of the utmost importance for the Knicks is determining whether Barrett, a consensus top three pick, is their man. They’ll soon have a chance to make some progress on that front, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Monday that Barrett and the Knicks will get together early next week for a rendezvous that is expected to include general meetings, a medical evaluation, and light court work.
Duke forward RJ Barrett – the presumptive No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft – will make a visit to the New York Knicks early next week for meetings, medical evaluation and light court work, league sources tell ESPN. The Knicks are selecting third in this month's draft.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2019
There’s a school of thought that says the Knicks should simply grab Barrett at three and figure
the rest out later. You might have heard this one, but before Zion Williamson took all of the attention, Barrett was projected as the number one pick in the 2019 NBA draft. In his lone season with Duke, Barrett put up 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, scoring more total points than any freshman in ACC history. That’s pretty good!
At this point, you likely know a whole bunch about Barrett. But in case you need to get up to speed, simply click on this link and let P&T’s own MMiranda teach you what’s what.
Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Culver, a likely top 10 pick who could wind up going even higher than one might think, is scheduled to come work out for the Knicks this week, according to Newsday’s Steve Popper.
Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver will work out for the Knicks Wednesday. He did an individual workout for the Lakers, who have the No. 4 pick, over the weekend.— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) June 3, 2019
The Knicks have had their eye on Culver for a hot second, with Marc Berman of the New York Post reporting that Perry and Mills once left in the middle of a Knicks game this season to go watch Culver play in the NCAA Tournament.
Our P&T compadre The Ghost of Kristaps Past recently scouted Culver so that you wouldn’t have to, but here are the basics: he showed impressive improvement in his second year as one of the Red Raiders, posting 18.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists. In his first season, playing about eight less minutes per game, Culver cultivated 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
If the Knicks are going to take Culver, hopefully it comes as part of a trade that nets them an additional asset. If the Knicks take Culver at three and then the Los Angeles Lakers land Barrett with the fourth pick, there will be unhappiness.
Tacko Fall, University of Central Florida
If Fall falls all the way to pick number 55 in the second round of the draft, the Knicks may consider taking a swing on the 7’7” center, with the New York Post reporting that the Knicks will assess the (very) big man during a group workout later this week.
The 23-year-old seems to defy the laws of physics, with a ridiculous wingspan that reaches more than eight feet. When he puts his arms all the way up, they reach more than 10 feet into the air. Fall must always be aware when ceiling fans are whirring.
He played all four years at UCF, an acronym that is a little too close to UFC for comfort, posting overall averages of 10.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
The NBA has a long history of gigantic big men who couldn’t quite hang with their shorter, but still extremely tall, opponents. Shawn Bradley and Gheorghe Muresan come to mind; they weren’t horrible, but their main attribute was being really tall. Hopefully the Knicks’ keen eye will be able to suss out whether or not Fall might ultimately fail in his quest to succeed in the league.
Meanwhile, we’ve already got a pretty tall dude named Mitchell Robinson. But if the Knicks think there’s something there and can snag him late, maybe he can follow in the footsteps of the Blockness Monster.
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State
Son of once-and-always-a-Knick Clarence Weatherspoon, Quinndary apparently worked out for the Knicks on Monday, according to SNY’s Ian Begley, and is another guy being considered for a second round selection.
Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon, a 6-4 guard, is scheduled to work out for the Knicks on Monday, per SNY sources.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 3, 2019
The 6’4” guard had a strong season for the Bulldogs, averaging 18.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting over 50% from the field and 39.6% from deep. He’s one of only three players in MSU history to score over 2,000 career points, with the others being Jeff Malone and Bailey Howell, according to his bio on the Bulldogs website. He’s also one of only five players in school history to average at least 10 points in each of his four seasons.
Considering the guy who helped spawn him was a pretty successful basketball player, it could be worth taking a shot on Quinndary under the right circumstances.
Marques Bolden, Duke
Shockingly, there’s a Blue Devil in the draft that hasn’t received an insane amount of coverage. That man is Bolden, who according to Begley will workout for the Knicks on Friday.
Bolden didn’t produce at high levels during his Duke career, playing three seasons and averaging 3.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. His meager stats can be attributed to the fact that he was often tied to the bench, but because he’s 6’11” and athletic there may be a place for him in the NBA. He’s another guy the Knicks might consider in the second round, although the Lakers and Boston Celtics apparently also have interest.
Here’s highlights from a game back in 2016, when he posted 13 points and 11 rebounds. That ain’t bad!
When the intro of this piece said the Knicks are doing their due diligence, that was no lie. In addition to the above-mentioned prospects, the Knicks are planning to take looks at a host of players prior to the draft on June 20.
There’s Aric Holman, a 6’10” power forward out of Mississippi State who played all four seasons and had overall averages of 8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in about 21 minutes per game.
We also have LaGerald Vick, a 6’5” guard out of Kansas who also played all four years at school and improved as a scorer in each year, from 2.1 points per game in his freshman season to 14.1 points per game as a senior.
Additionally, the Knicks recently worked out Markis McDuffie, a 6’8” forward from Wichita State who averaged 18.1 points per game his senior year, as well as Phil Booth, a 6’3” guard who played for the Villanova Wildcats and posted 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists this past season.
Most of these players are being considered for second round selections, but as the Knicks have shown in recent history, such picks can wind up being big time contributors. What’s most important is that the Knicks are looking at as many players as they can before the draft so that when the time comes to make a pick they’ll have the most complete picture possible. That’s good. Hopefully the actual execution of the draft will be good too.
Of course, with Anthony Davis potentially up for grabs it’s possible that the Knicks wind up trading all of their draft picks, therefore rendering all of this scouting moot. The only thing we can do is wait and see.