The New York Knicks hold four draft selections in the 2021 NBA Draft. Those picks include their own first, the Dallas Mavericks’ first (likely in the mid 20’s), the Detroit Pistons’ second (No. 32 overall) and the 76ers’ second (58th overall). The Knicks could potentially look to add an NBA ready player who could make a contribution on day one.
Chris Duarte, 6’6″ and 190 lbs. with a 6’7″ wingspan, is an underrated player heading into the 2021 NBA Draft. Some mock drafts see him as a late first round or early second round pick. Duarte started out his collegiate career at Northwest Florida State, a junior college, and won JUCO Player of the Year in his sophomore year where he averaged 19.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He transferred to Oregon for his final two collegiate seasons where he displayed his impressive skill set.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and Matt Pennie, Director of Basketball Operations for High Major Sports, believe Duarte should be selected in the first round. Pennie detailed what the former Oregon guard could bring to an NBA organization.
“I don’t understand why people don’t have [Duarte] higher,” Vecenie said on his Game Theory Podcast. “He’s really f***ing good at basketball.”
“Really good. 54 percent from the field, 44 [percent] from three, 80 [percent] from the free-throw line,” Pennie detailed. “[Duarte] has really good size at 6’6”. Has a strong frame. He moves well with or without the ball. You don’t really need to run stuff for him. He can create his own shot, and when he’s away from the ball he knows to go backdoor when the lane’s open can dunk. He has this uber confidence to pull up from three. He’ll pull up in transition. He’s incredibly efficient. He had 22 points against Arizona on 10 shots.”
Chris Duarte brings a lot to the table on the offensive side of the ball. He has shown he can score at all three levels and is a great shooter off-the-dribble and on-the-dribble. One area where he had success last season was with his outside shot. The former Oregon guard has the ability to space the floor and showed to be a solid three-point shooter (42.4 3PT% as a senior).
He is a great catch-and shoot shooter, proven shot-maker, and good slasher. Duarte was a solid shooter in spot up situations, in transition, and as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll. The 23-year-old guard makes right play and doesn’t force things. Duarte rebounds well for guard (around 5.1 RPG in two seasons with Oregon) and plays with great energy.
Chris Duarte has shown to be a good on-ball defender and is a solid team defender. He has good instincts defensively and is tough on defensive end, which are skills that Tom Thibodeau would like. Duarte knows when to get in the passing lane to force turnovers.
One negative that could push teams away from Chris Duarte is his age. He will be 24 years old when the draft rolls around, so some teams may go after players with higher ceilings. He does have athletic limitations and doesn’t have an explosive burst, which may hinder him in keeping up with quicker guards or wings.
Chris Duarte’s likely role in the NBA would be a 3-and-D player who can space the floor and be a good defender. He has the potential to be a solid rotation player. Some expect Duarte can play in the NBA on day one and could make an impact on a team.