Tonight is the NBA Draft. People have thoughts. Here are some from the two longest-
oppressed tenured writers at P&T, Joe Flynn and Matthew Miranda...soon to be hosting a Knicks podcast.
Do you think the Knicks will trade up?
Miranda: Yes, if only because there’s been so much talk about it, and there are teams that aren’t smart that could be looking to trade down, like Charlotte. Charlotte, especially. That, and I choose to believe that between Leon Rose and Worldwide Wes, the Knicks can come up with some combination of horses’ heads and remembered cannolis and shady dress shops to make it happen. Really: with all the connections and relations the Knick front office cultivated for years, isn’t this the kind of thing you’d like to think they can pull off? I still choose to hope for the best.
Flynn: I do, but I fear it. This draft is widely lauded for its depth all the way through the first round. There doesn’t seem to be much separation between, say, Nos. 10 and 25 on most experts’ top player boards. If the rumors are true that the Knicks are desperately trying to move up — and there seems to be plenty of smoke — for the likes of Chris Duarte, it would break my heart. Duarte’s a good player, he would fill a clear role, and I’d be thrilled to get him at 19. But he is not worth two picks in this draft. Trading up for a player like him is what clear title contenders do, and the Knicks are not that. They are much improved, but they still need to stack young, cheap talent up and down the roster.
Which player that the Knicks have a realistic shot at would you be happiest to land?
Miranda: Usman Garuba is regarded by some as the most promising defensive prospect in the entire draft. There’s decidedly less consensus as to his offensive prospects, which are far less advanced. But Garuba is only 19 years old. Why can’t he develop a jumper over the length of his first contract? Why can’t he be a Serge Ibaka-type player? Almost every top-shelf team has a player who can guard multiple positions, especially quicksilver guards and plus-sized wings. Garuba as a defender feels like a good idea. Give.
Flynn: When I saw a recent mock draft that had Sharife Cooper at No. 34, I dared to dream: Could the Knicks possibly get Cooper with their third pick, at No. 32? It’s true, Cooper’s stock has dropped precipitously during this process. Whenever I bring up his name on Twitter, I get responses like “midget who can’t shoot” and even the dreaded “similar to Elfrid Payton.” Sorry, I don’t see that. I see the most gifted passer in the draft, a kid who was born to play point guard. Imagine getting a player like that in the second round?
Any player you’d rather the team avoid selecting?
Miranda: Looks like I’m one of those people, Joe. It’s not Cooper’s fault, at all, and it’s entirely possible he ends up as a quality NBA player. It could even happen with the Knicks. But for me, after seeing decades of glaringly sub-par point guard play find its Platonic incarnation in the form of Payton, I just have no interest in a guard who can’t shoot — no matter what else he can do.
Flynn: Fortunately, I have yet to latch onto a player I particularly do not want the Knicks to draft. I’m more worried about the Knicks loading up on frontcourt players. On Wednesday ESPN mocked Usman Garuba and Kai Jones to the Knicks at 19 and 21. Separately, I would be fine with either one. Together, that would be insane. Do we really need two frontcourt players to go with Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson?
Are there any positions or areas you hope to see addressed in the draft?
Miranda: It’s tough to say what the Knicks should draft for with free agency coming the week after. If New York comes out of the draft feeling better about their point guards and their shooting, especially if the point guards and shooters they select can defend, too, I’m cool.
Flynn: I would like the Knicks to diversify their portfolio on draft night, so to speak. The roster is probably going to lose veteran depth at every position except power forward, so they might as well try replenishing that depth by picking the best player available. I worry that the front office is too concerned with drafting a big wing, a position that is all the rage these days. This draft isn’t exactly stacked with those kinds of players, which is why they seem desperate to move up for a guy like Duarte or Trey Murphy III.
Would you rather the Knicks lost enough games to be picking top-10 or have the season they did and pick 19th?
Miranda: Last season was only the second time since Jeff Van Gundy left that the Knicks finished 10+ games above .500. In that same span, they’ve had a top-10 draft pick 10 times. I’m happy as hell to be doing something other than seeing how they screw up another mid-lottery pick.
Flynn: Do I miss the days of placing all of my hopes in Kevin Knox? Not quite.
Miranda: He’s not kidding, folks.