Knicks Moneyball

A lot of opinions around draft time. Trade the picks and get a superstar. Don't draft all the players because there is not enough roster space. Coach Tibs doesn't play rookies (which was proven wrong this season) are all somewhat valid points. My opinion is that what the Knicks should do is "Moneyball" this off season.

If you have never seen the movie, I'll condense the theme for you. The Oakland Athletics were a small market team who lost their superstar Jason Giambi to the Yankees. At the time the thought was that they needed to aggressively chase a superstar to replace his production. The entire premise of this movie was that you did not need to replace the player, but replace the players production. The Oakland A's did this with a bunch of productive nobody players and wound up winning 18 straight games the following season. NO superstars. Chase the production.

The Knicks need to follow this philosophy. The clear and obvious production is lack of scoring. NY was 26th in scoring at 107 ppg in the 2020 season. The median in scoring was around 113 points per game. The Knicks defense made up for a lot of the scoring gap, but watching Randle go one on one on clear outs in the playoffs made this more pronounced. There are a few players in the draft that can help the Knicks fix this gap.

Jared Butler is my pick at #19 provided his medicals and heart issue check out. If they do not my pick is Ayo Dosunmu at 21. The reason is simple. Elfrid Payton could not handle the scoring load as a lead point guard. His anemic scoring from deep, free thrown line, and in general need to be replaced. Payton's career average of 10.9ppg is proof that he can't hang with starters, and the points he should be scoring have to be burdened onto someone else. Jared Butler is a 3 year player at Baylor, coming off a national championship who has played good competition, improved year over year, and most importantly can do things the other Knicks PG's can't do. He can get to any spot he wants on the floor, shoot the ball from deep (40% from 3), averaged 5 assists per game, and can defend. All facets of his game put him above Frank Ntilikina, and Elfrid Payton. His ball handle is on par with Rose, and his shooting is a tick less than Quickley. The Knicks should draft him, and split the minutes 24/24 between he and Rose to help keep Rose fresh, and maintain a scoring threat throughout the game. Drafting Butler over a 37 year old Chris Paul (Pipe Dream) or Kyle Lowry (bad dream) is continuing to build the future, but not mortgaging the present. His production value is effectively the same as Tyrese Haliburton who the Knicks passed up, but drafting him at pick 19 instead of 9.

The next pick at 21 should be Charles Bassey C from Western Kentucky. I know this probably won't be a popular pick, but it is the best pick. Production is most important and Bassey produces in areas the three Knicks centers fell short. He can shoot the ball from out to three, and score in the post. Add to this he averaged 3 blocks per game to go with his 17ppg and his value is greater than the current Knicks options. The Knicks have three non-offensive players in Robinson, Noelle, and Gibson. While Robinson has not peeked yet, Noelle and GIbson have shown what they are. Having centers that are rim runners that are only a threat for pick and roll dunks and put backs doesn't negate that Mitch Robinson average 8ppg per 27 minutes, and Nerlens Noelle is also a career 7.6ppg center. Playing these centers is effectively playing 4 on 5 when on offense. Charles Bassey physically measures the same as MIles Turner the center from Indiana at 6'10.5 240 pounds. His 30% from 3 is improving, and his 77% from the charity stripe is around 20% higher than either Robinson or Noelle. Where they can only roll to the basket, he is a threat to either pick and pop or roll which will open the floor. Bassey's 17ppg are translatable from NCAA to NBA basketball because of the way he scores. To add to this, Bassey has averaged 3.1 blocks over the 28 games he played this season. As he has also played three years of college ball, he is more ready to go, and less of a project player.

These are two draft options that can play this year around 20-24 minutes a game, and provide by modest estimates an additional 5 points per game taking the Knicks from 107 to around 112 points per game, and keeping them in more games with more efficient scoring, playmaking, and retaining the defensive aspects that got them to the playoffs.

I'm not for the chasing of less than all star players. You can win now, keep your cap low, use it for your own players, and still not mortgage the future to remain competitive and improve in small chunks. Taking home run swings for Kevin Durant is nice, but the home grown teams like Milwaukee are in the finals. The Knicks need to think about home grown players, improving incrementally, and using this deep draft to get better than they were last year by getting players like these to remove those deficiencies that they had offensively.

Round 2 pick 32 still gives plenty of options for developmental and guys with "potential". One of those players will drop to 32 including Brandon Boston, Jaden Springer, Zaire WIlliams, Cam Thomas, or Sharife Cooper. I'd ride with the players that have consistently produced, and take a swing on the 1 year players that don't have an elite skill in round 2. Thanks for reading!