Aw shucks, I guess. Once again, the Knicks didn’t move up in the draft lottery. The Orlando Magic won the lotto for the fourth time since the last time the Knicks moved up. The last three times the won, they picked Shaq, Chris Webber (traded for Penny Hardaway) and Dwight Howard. I guess we’re supposed to feel happy for them? Personally, I hate all other NBA teams.
Anyway, I have some thoughts about the proceedings:
It could have been worse!
The Knicks actually had a slightly better chance of dropping to 12th than moving up into the top 4. The Knicks’ lotto luck has been so bad over the decades that I’m wiling to accept staying put as a victory!
The Knicks can still find a good player at 11
Another reason not to fret: This draft still has good players after pick 4! Yes, most experts believe that there is a drop-off in talent after to first 3-5 picks, But talented players can be found throughout the lottery. My personal favorite at the moment is Wisconsin wing Johnny Davis, who we recently profiled on this very site. I also like Jeremy Sochan and Malaki Branham. At least one of those players will likely be available when the Knicks pick.
And lest we forget, we are no longer mired in the dark days of Kevin Knox wowing Knicks decision-makers in 3-on-3 workouts. This Knicks front office can really draft! They’ve hit in the lottery (Obi Toppin), on late firsts (Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes), and in the second round (Miles McBride, Rokas Jokubaitis, Jericho Sims). I trust Walt Perrin, Brock Aller and the gang to find some gold at No. 11. I’d be happy with almost any pick they made at that spot.
Please, no centers
That being said, I’m a little bit scared when I see Memphis center Jalen Duren mocked to the Knicks at 11. The theory goes like this: Mitchell Robinson might sign elsewhere in the offseason, and Duren can fit right in at the starting C spot. I find some notable flaws in this plan. First, are we sure Tom Thibodeau, legendary hater of rookies, is going to start Duren at the key spot in his defense? I doubt it. If Nerlens Noel is healthy, Thibs will start him.
But what most concerns me about the idea of picking Duren is that the Knicks have had so much success at finding quality centers in the second round recently. Mitch was a second-round pick. Sims was the No. 58 pick! I’m sure Duren is a great prospect, but he isn’t some transcendent, Nikola Jokic type. The Knicks pick again at No. 42...maybe they can find a center there.
To stash or not to stash
Even if the Knicks draft a guard or a wing, are we sure Thibs will play any rookie next season? New York is already deep with young guys who deserve more playing time. Thibs didn’t hesitate to bury Obi Toppin on the bench for the better part of two seasons, and he was the No. 8 overall pick.
Which brings me to my next point: Perhaps the Knicks shouldn’t be looking for a prospect who will contribute immediately. This might be a good time to take a home run swing on a raw prospect with huge upside. One example is French forward Ousmane Dieng, who played in New Zealand last season. He’s a 6’10” freak of nature who can shoot off the dribble, but he probably isn’t ready for NBA minutes yet. If you know Thibs isn’t going to play any rookie, why not stash him in New Zealand for another year? Kurt Schulte of The Strickland wrote an article about other high-upside guys.
Don’t fret, my friends, if the front office displays patience with their lottery pick. Hell, even if they pick Duren, I’ll learn to like it. They’ve found a great deal of talent these past few years, and they’ve earned a degree of trust on draft night.