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The Toppin & Poppin’ 2022 NBA draft preview

What do the Knicks need? Who should they target?

2022 NBA Draft Lottery Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

Abe:

Folks, it’s a gorgeous June Tuesday, just after noon here in New York City, so what better way to spend my time than indoors, worrying about decisions a basketball team that hasn’t played in two months will make, and which I have absolutely no control over? It’s time for the draft, which as we’ve previously covered, is a kind of specialty of mine, kind of my thing. But I’ve brought someone over to my corner. You know him, you love him, he’s the Michael Redd to my Scoonie Penn, the Morris Peterson to my Mateen Cleaves, Jayson Buford. We’ll be tackling the draft and all its angles from our Sloan Conference styled scientific, analysis based approach to talent and fit evaluation.

Last night as we watched a pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals that was absolutely dominated by the guy who once got mopped by Jimmy Buckets and a bunch of practice players, Andrew Wiggins, you posted something from your alt account that was ripped directly from my brain and also probably the minds of every Knick fan across the country: Mom, can I have one? So Jay, who’s the rangy 6’7ish wing we could draft that will learn to be aggressive, to shoot, to play lockdown defense and get seemingly every important rebound over the course of two Finals games in an imagined future in which the Knicks have at long last made it back to the NBA Finals. And here’s a follow up question: Do we already have him?

Jay:

I’m not sure if we already have him. RJ Barrett isn’t long and athletic enough. Wiggins is a quick leaper with elite athleticism, whether that is lateral quickness or leaping ability. RJ is more of a bulldog scorer. He can dunk with ferocity but doesn’t glide like Wiggins does. I don’t think we have that now. Quentin Grimes isn’t even that either. His shot is where he’ll help us the most. But he isn’t the wing that Andrew Wiggins had me dreaming about all night. That’s where someone like Jaden Ivey or Johnny Davis comes in. Ivey, would be more of a guard than a wing, but he is gifted. Purdue was the only team that I watched all year. Ivey had a move against Minnesota where he received the ball on a handoff, was able to get all the way to the cup and finish a dunk. A Knicks player hasn’t been able to do that in a long time. That’s a reminder that we haven’t had that many great players. Davis is more of a true wing. Another Big Ten guy, Davis’s defense is elite, in the same way that Grimes was coming out of college. He’s more lengthy too. That could be a guy that helps us. What do you think?

Abe:

I worry a little about 6’5 wings in a league that’s getting longer (II), you look at the Jay’s in Boston, and I wonder if even Grimes can hang on a night when Tatum is feeling it. But let’s zoom out for a minute and consider the big board. I’m of two minds. It would appear that for something like the last 20 years the Knicks have needed a true point guard. Some argue we already have that in the form of IQ, and if we don’t draft for that need I’d love to see that this Fall, but we have an interesting opportunity with the four slot, because the Kings might be the only team in basketball that would conceivably pass on Ivey with their recent infamous history trying to negotiate a bad backcourt marriage with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, and they’re more oriented around “winning now” with their new Fox/Ox battery. If that pick is indeed on the market, as it allegedly is, what is a fair price for it? I’d drive Randle to the airport if it’s just him for the pick, our #11 and some salary filler, but I’ve never been that fortunate in life or basketball so I suspect it will be more. What’s it worth to you?

Jay:

Randle would ideally be involved. Obi felt disgruntled. He’ll never publicly admit it, but I recently saw a quote where he said he was grateful that he was finally allowed to make mistakes. Obadiah Toppin should finally be allowed to get in the starting lineup. He plays infectiously and makes people better. I’d give them the pick and Randle and filler for Ivey and another wing. Call it Harrison Barnes. Call it Donte DiVincenzo. Knowing that the Kings have a history of losing trades is certainly influencing my opinion, but to get Ivey you would certainly have to part with Randle. As they should.

Abe:

Yeah it’s weird, the Knicks seem like a natural trade partner but the only chatter I can find online are like, SEO shingles that seemed designed to get me to click, then click through a slowly loading slideshow as they float preposterous trades that will never happen in the hope I click on a banner for dick pills. So either that trade is not realistic, or for once the organizations are keeping the talks internal. I would do Barnes and #4 for Randle and #11 in a fucking second, I just don’t think the Kings would.

So let’s talk philosophy. If we strike out with the Kings, the Pistons aren’t coming off #5, and if you believe most of the mocks, that means even if we can trade up, Davis and Ivey will be off the board any higher than 5. So at #11, what would you do? Something Ryen Russillo said a few weeks ago has been lodged in my brain: Shitty teams shouldn’t draft for fit, they should simply get the best available player. And the idea is your future is unwritten, don’t fall in love with your pieces, take swings and hope for the best. This is also the approach that landed us the great Kevin Knox, which was, I don’t know, bad luck or bad scouting, but I get what he’s saying: Do the smart version of that. But are the Knicks a bad team, or a young team? So before we consider our individual pieces, assuming those two guys are gone, who is the best PLAYER we will likely have a shot at drafting 11, and in your mind, who is the best FIT we have a shot at drafting 11?

Jay:

Kevin Knox was all the mind of Fizdale. He out-played a few people in a draft workout and Fiz fell in-love. SGA should have been the pick there. I’ll never forgive him for that. I’d say the best player is AJ Griffin. I have a sneaky feeling that he’ll be gone by then. The Spurs wouldn’t miss out on a player like him. He doesn’t leave nine. Johnny Davis won’t be gone. He’ll be right there. Ivey is the guy who has to be traded for. Davis is the best fit we have a shot at getting. We need another guard that has the ability to score and distribute. Davis is that, and should be our pick at 11 if we can’t get the budding Griffin.

Abe:

This article, written for a very good website, makes a pretty good case for Davis at #5, but who knows, there are some mocks out there that have us taking him, which I’d love, even though I’d prefer a natural point. I do agree that our needs are primarily in the backcourt. I looked up your boy AJ, who NBC Sports Washington describes as “a boom or bust prospect worth taking a swing on”, which I believe they copy and pasted from Kevin Knox’s scouting report and scares the shit out of me, so hopefully someone else does take him.

The idea I absolutely loathe is Mark Williams, who I’ve seen some chatter about, either taking Mitch’s spot or sliding in to backup Jericho Sims. This seems to me to be the epitome of Russillo’s maxim, and it’s incredibly dumb when you consider we have an accomplished, established talent and known entity still waiting for us to come to our senses. I feel like a crazy old Jewish guy in a tattered puffer coat on a warm day, sitting on a bench on the Upper West Side, with an unwrapped sandwich I made home and several old newspapers in a plastic bag, ranting at pigeons about the shitty repertory film sleight at Jacob Burns, but am I? What do you make of the idea of drafting another big when we could just re-sign Mitch, and what other players/strategic ideas do you absolutely NOT want to see the Knicks pursue?

Jay:

Williams is one of them. I don’t want them to reach for TyTy Washington. Not only because he goes by TyTy. Point guard is a position of need, depending on whether you think the Knicks are going to go for Jalen Brunson. Washington doesn’t strike me as one of the best players available. It wouldn’t be the right pick. I do not want the Knicks to do this. Nor do I think they will. Leon Rose and company do their homework well, even if I felt that they didn’t do a good enough job with last year’s team. What they are good at is scouting. I don’t think Washington is on their list of players. I’ve been wrong before though. Whatever happens, the Knicks will need to hit on this pick.

Abe:

Because I keep such incredibly close tabs on this stuff I didn’t know who TyTy was, but as soon as you mentioned him I thought, “I wonder if he’s Kentucky”, and sure enough. Maybe we can reconvene after the draft for a recap, but till then, the draft is June 23rd, thoughts and prayers New York.