With the NBA trade moratorium lifted, Chris Paul headed to Phoenix and the draft actually upon us, one thing is most certainly clear: time both flies and crawls when you’re in a global pandemic.
The Knicks, having been quiet thus far this week, hold the eighth pick in the draft. Not to mention the 27th and 38th picks (friendly reminder that Mitchell Robinson was nabbed 36th overall back in 2018). Leon Rose has been plotting in private for months, and it’s time for the new team president to produce.
Will he make a draft night deal for the second overall pick in order to select LaMelo Ball? Might he stand pat at eight and pick the best available player? Is there another option that’s really cool but we don’t even know about?
Here’s where the mock drafters landed back in August, and here’s what the mockers were saying in October. With the clock officially counting down to Wednesday night’s draft, we have time for one more mock draft round up. Let’s see what the experts think the Knicks will do with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
ESPN: Tyrese Haliburton
Previously, Jonathan Givnoy had the Knicks selecting Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro, but in his latest mock, Givnoy’s got the Atlanta Hawks taking Okoro at six. At number eight, Givnoy has the Knicks grabbing Tyrese Haliburton.
Haliburton is a 6’5” point guard coming off a sophomore season at Iowa State in which he averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game while shooting 42% from three. Because of his size, Haliburton’s got serious lankiness in the form of a 6’8” wingspan. He and Frank Ntilikina would combine for almost 14 feet of total wingspan, meaning that when they are on the court together, opposing guards will have no have no passing lanes in which to throw the basketball.
Depending on which mock draft you pin your beliefs on, Haliburton could be off the board as early as the fourth pick. The consensus seems to be that he’s an extremely talented athlete who would make a lovely draft choice. He’ll probably be picked by the Detroit Pistons at seven.
The Ringer: Tyrese Haliburton
Well, well well. Look what we Haveliburton here. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has Haliburton as the 10th best player in the draft on his Big Board, but notes the 20-year-old could go as early as four.
According to O’Connor, Haliburton is a “genius playmaker who can be a major building block of a contending team,” and “the Knicks should be ecstatic if he’s available here.”
Additionally, he noted the Knicks could also consider Obi Toppin with their pick. In August, multiple mock drafts had the Knicks taking Toppin, a 6’9”, 22-year-old sophomore out of the University of Dayton who averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds last year while shooting 67% from the field and 39% from three.
The Athletic: Devin Vassell
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has the Knicks taking Devin Vassell, a 6’6” sophomore guard out of Florida State, who has been described as having one of the highest floors in the entire draft.
He could have a high ceiling as well. Last year, Vassell averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 41.5% from deep. His ability to sharpshoot would look lovely next to RJ Barrett, whose primary offensive talent is getting to the rim. Let’s assume that video of him launching long threes in a less-than-lovely looking fashion was just Vassell having some fun.
Sports Illustrated: Isaac Okoro
Jeremy Woo at Sports Illustrated has the Knicks picking Okoro, a 6’6” small forward who finished his freshman season at Auburn with averages of 13 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game. Talk about filling up the stat sheet!
It seems like Okoro is probably going to go between six and 12, meaning he may very well be on the board when the Knicks come up at eight. He looks pretty good in highlight form. He’s definitely one of a bundle of guys the Knicks have been considering, according to Newsday’s Steve Popper.
Yahoo! Sports: Killian Hayes
Writing for Yahoo!, Krysten Peek has the Knicks picking Killian Hayes, a Florida-born teenager who doesn’t turn 20 until July. Hayes, 6’5”, played professionally in Europe the last three years, and is already friendly with Frank Ntilikina.
Killian Hayes has spoken with Frank Ntilikina about his NBA future:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) September 28, 2020
"I've known Frank for a long time now, he told me a lot about what it takes to stay in the NBA" pic.twitter.com/Z4pEq9ZM7D
He averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 assists in 33 games last year, but shot only 29.4% from deep. As is common knowledge, the Knicks would love to find someone to just be their starting point guard for the foreseeable future. Could that person be Hayes?
Bleacher Report: Isaac Okoro
First, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report had the Knicks picking Vassell. Then, he had them trading up to take LaMelo Ball with the second pick. Now, he’s got the Knicks selecting Okoro. Wasserman be wafflin’.
As noted earlier, Okoro would be a solid choice. At 6’6”, he’s the same height as Michael Jordan. He doesn’t turn 20 until January, meaning he’d still be a precious teenager for the first couple games of the season.
Marc Berman of the New York Post recently penned a piece entitled “Knicks draft target Isaac Okoro may be just what Tom Thibodeau covets.”
SB Nation: Kira Lewis Jr.
In August, Ricky O’Donnell had the Knicks taking Vassell. As of earlier this month, he had Vassell falling all the way to the Sacramento Kings at 12, with the Knicks instead selecting Kira Lewis Jr. out of Alabama.
The 6’3”, 19-year-old point guard played two years for the Crimson Tide, and is regarded as one of the faster players in the draft. Per O’Donnell, he can “blow by defenders at the point of attack or dust them in transition to apply consistent pressure on the rim.”
Lewis Jr.’s ability to get into the paint is something the Knicks don’t really have at the point guard position right now, barring a major turnaround in the play of Dennis Smith Jr. Lewis Jr. averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 36% from deep last year. According to Marc Berman, his lighting quickness has captured the Knicks’ attention.
Newsday: Devin Vassell
Steve Popper of Newsday does a fine job reporting about the Knicks, so it’s notable that he put together a mock that was published the week of the draft. Popper has the Knicks picking Vassell, writing that the front office has become infatuated with the idea of choosing a wing instead of a little guy.
The glut of point guards in the lottery has been the focus of Knicks rumors for so long that it seems odd to note that as the process wore on the front office is believed to have moved off that focus and instead targeted a wing in the draft.
At 6’6” but with the abilities of a point guard, Vassell would fit that bill. Notable, Popper said it’s seeming less and less likely that the Knicks are going to trade up to pick LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards.
Vassell and Isaac Okoro have been the best prospects, and in the more offensively advanced Vassell the Knicks can grab a prototypical 3-and-D guy, shooting 41.7% from beyond the arc. Hearing more and more that rumors of looking to trade up do not include interest in Ball or Edwards.
Final score in the third edition of the 2020 Knicks mock draft power rankings:
Tied for first place: Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro (2 mocks apiece)
Tied for second place: (Killian Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr. (1 mock apiece)