The Knicks are preparing for the draft like they’re Jimmy Butler gearing up for game three of the finals, except instead of torching Los Angeles for a 40-point triple double, New York’s aim is simply to land a solid player with the eighth overall pick.
We’ve already discussed virtual meetings the Knicks have held with prospects like LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes and Tyrell Terry, but those names are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to guys Leon Rose and company have grilled via video chat.
Let’s look at four more draft prospects who have met with the Knicks. Once again, the draft is currently set for Nov. 18, which isn’t that far away!
Kira Lewis Jr.
Lewis Jr., a 19-year-old, 6’3” point guard, has apparently put on about 15 pounds since the end of his sophomore season at the University of Alabama. When professional athletes put on 15 pounds, it’s usually muscle. When bloggers do it, it’s normally pancakes, and their clothes stop fitting.
Anyhow, Lewis Jr. may go higher than eighth, which means the Knicks might have to trade up if they are going to stake their future on him. He showed significant improvement in his second college season, going from 13.5 points (43% from the field, 36% from three), 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 31.6 minutes per game as a freshman to 18.5 points (46% from the field, 37% from deep), 4.8 boards, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 38 minutes per contest.
SNY’s Ian Begley recently spoke with Cory Underwood, who has been training Lewis Jr. for the last few years. Underwood told Begley that Lewis Jr. is one of the fastest guards in the draft, and said his intangibles and desire to improve makes him one of this year’s most promising prospects.
Begley also confirmed that Lewis Jr. and the Knicks have spoken, although it’s not clear what they specifically talked about. Probably more basketball chatter and less discussion about whether or not Lewis Jr. would agree to eat octopus. That’s just a guess, though.
That theme you’re sensing is the Knicks talking to point guards. Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. will be on the roster whenever training camp for next season begins, and Elfrid Payton has a team option the franchise should probably forget to pick up, so it seems the Knicks are still hoping to find a suitable starting point man.
Perhaps that man is Maledon, a 19-year-old out of France who reportedly spoke with the Knicks a few weeks back. He also chit-chatted with Ntilikina about “life in the NBA,” according to Begley.
PG Theo Maledon said he spoke to the Knicks a couple of weeks ago. That's notable because it was after the Lottery results were determined. Maledon has spoken to nine teams overall and he's talked to Frank Ntilikina about life in the NBA.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2020
Maledon could be picked late in the lottery, or he may fall and be selected late in the first round. Maybe Maledon will be available when the Knicks are on the clock with the 27th pick in the draft, which they received from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Marcus Morris.
Last year, playing for LDLC ASVEL in the Euroleague, Maledon averaged almost 18 minutes per game and posted 7.4 points (46% from the field, 37% from deep), 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
He’s another one of those guys with lots of potential. But if potential doesn’t do it for you, here’s a little something to wet your beak:
This pass from Theo Maledon is wild pic.twitter.com/dNnD8NpMno— NBA Draft Central (@NBADC_) June 3, 2020
Finally, we’ve got someone who has already reached the ripe old age of 20. Haliburton played two years at Iowa State, and like Lewis Jr., his stats went up significantly in year two.
Iowa State’s Tyrese Halliburton says the Knicks are among the three teams he’s interviewed with so far during the pre-draft process. Golden State and Detroit are the other two teams Haliburton mentioned. pic.twitter.com/SrUDEpKofM— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2020
Haliburton isn’t the sexy name that LaMelo Ball is (can’t beat two capital letters in one first name), but he does exude an extreme amount of confidence, per this piece from Marc Berman of the New York Post, saying he thinks he can “facilitate better than anyone in this draft and can run a team right away.’’
”I like the Knicks — they are an up-and-coming team,’’ Haliburton said. “They have a lot of guys who can play point guard — Dennis, Elfrid, Frank. If it was the Knicks, I’m prepared to do whatever is asked of me — play the 1 , slide to the 2, come off the bench, start. Doesn’t matter.’’
Joe, whose last name would be almost anyone else’s first name, is a 21-year-old out of Arkansas who averaged 17 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists as a sophomore. He’s met with at least the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
Arkansas shooting guard Isaiah Joe said he has spoken to both the Knicks and the Nets, among other teams, during the pre-draft process.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2020
Joe, who is 6’5”, seems like he could be had at the back end of the first round. Though his three point shooting percentage fell from 41% as a freshman to 34% as a sophomore, experts seem to believe that sharpshooting is something he’ll bring to the NBA when he gets there.
New film room breakdown on one of the best shooters in the draft, Arkansas 6-5 G Isaiah Joe. Although his 3P% dipped (41% to 34%) this season & he can be a bit one-dimensional at times, Joe has an absolute flamethrower with range well beyond the NBA line. Underrated pull-up game. pic.twitter.com/7UCOrNVhzC— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) September 28, 2020