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Potential Obi Toppin replacements Knicks can target by trading into the draft

Five intriguing prospects who offer something different

SEC Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Carly Mackler/Getty Images

With Toppin rumored to be available in trade talks, the Knicks will need to address the backup power forward position in one way or another. Obviously they can find one in free agency, or in trades, but this week’s upcoming draft has a few very good candidates if the Knicks can trade for a late first round pick, which just happens to be Toppin’s current valuation according to some around the league.

Kris Murray (6’8”, 213lbs, 22 years old)

Kris is a completely different player than Toppin. He does not possess the leaping ability or explosiveness that Toppin has. But what Murray lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for with shooting, defense, and overall feel for the game and he’d likely be a way better fit for the Knicks’ current roster than Toppin is because of that. Offensively, Murray is an efficient scorer who can play off the ball and space the floor but can also take advantage of mismatches down low. He is also a very willing screener and passer which helps him be a contributor offensively even when the outside shot isn’t falling. Defensively, he’s way better than Toppin was coming out of college and projects to be the same in the NBA. Murray showed ability to be a very versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions while having the awareness and feel to be a great off-ball and help defender as well. Murray is projected by some to go in the middle of the first round and given how well his brother integrated in to the Kings last year, his stock may continue to rise. But if he somehow falls (some mock drafts do have him going in the 25-28 range) or the Knicks can get miraculously get in range to grab him, they absolutely should. Adding his shooting and defense to a second unit that consists of Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, and Isaiah Hartenstein could be deadly.

Trayce Jackson-Davis (6’8”, 240lbs, 23 years old)

Jackson-Davis is an athletic high-flying lob threat who plays with a lot of energy. Remind you of someone? That’s because Jackson-Davis’ game and skillsets are somewhat reminiscent of Toppin’s coming out of college. But they are still different. Toppin, despite not being known as a shooter per say, shot more outside shots than Jackson-Davis did while Jackson-Davis is known as a way better and more versatile defender. Jackson-Davis isn’t necessarily the best fit in the Knicks’ current roster because his lack of shooting, especially as an undersized center, could lead to a very packed paint, something the team already struggles with. So if the Knicks are to pick the 23 year-old, they would either have to believe that he can develop a jump shot at some point, surround the second unit with some more shooting, or ship out Hartenstein and play him as an undersized center. Because of the maneuvering necessary, he doesn’t seem like the best fit at first, but on the other hand, he seems like a player tailor-made for Tom Thibodeau. His quick leaping ability makes him a great rebounder (especially on the offensive glass), his explosiveness and anticipation as a rim protector makes him great in drop coverage (which Thibodeau loves), he can switch on to guards when necessary, and he’s great in transition, where the Knicks can use some help. He’s expected to go late in the first-round so the Knicks should have a chance at pick him if they can acquire a first-round pick.

G.G. Jackson (6’8”, 214lbs, 18 years old)

If the Knicks want to plan for the future and draft someone for potential and upside, then G.G. Jackson may be the pick. Unlike a lot of the other targets mentioned here, Jackson is still a bit raw and may not possess the ability to contribute to a playoff team immediately, especially under Thibodeau. But, Jackson, who is the youngest player in the draft, was previously the top-ranked high school prospect in his class and already has an NBA-ready frame. The 18 year-old has a high motor when playing off the ball evident by his ability to cut, screen, and crash the boards and he’s also a good spot-up shooter. Jackson does struggle when looking to score off the dribble but does have the ability to create space for himself, lots of it. If he can continue to improve his off-ball shooting, his spot-up shooting, dribbling, and finishing ability suggests that he could one day become a reliable scorer. Defensively, the effort is there. He fights through screens, rotates, and boxes out well, especially for his age. If he his technique and feel for the game can catch up, he’s expected to be at least an above average defender. Jackson, likely due to his age, still does struggle with decision making and shot selection and wasn’t a great passer. Given his age and question marks, Jackson is a wild card, but if the Knicks wanted to take a shot on potential and grab a piece for the future, he could be an intriguing pick early in the second round.

Jordan Walsh (6’6”, 204lbs, 19 years old)

Listed at just 6’6”, Walsh may be a bit undersized as a power forward, but his 7’3” wing span makes up for it and he just seems like a Thibodeau player. He’s an exceptional athlete who has great instincts, dives on the floor for loose balls, takes charges, makes multiple efforts on defense, and has the size, strength, and length to defend multiple positions. Offensively, when he’s not out in transition, where he excels, he’s still a work in progress but he’s a good enough shooter to justify being out there and he is comfortable putting it on the floor if the defense closes out. He does also get out of control sometimes and turns the ball over unnecessary. But overall, Walsh has a knack for making the right play and playing with the kind of heart and energy that the city, and Thibodeau, often love. Walsh is projected to go early to mid second-round so if the Knicks can’t get into the first-round, Walsh seems like a great target.

Adama Sanogo (6’7”, 258lbs, 21 years old)

Fresh off of a national championship, Sanogo is an interesting prospect. He developed into one of the best big men in the country last season thanks in large part to his ability to knock down face up mid range shots, post up on the block, and hit a wide array of shots that included floaters and hook shots. And despite only shooting 52 three-pointers during his junior season, he shot them t a 36.5% clip while also improving his free throw percentage from 58% to 77% over his three seasons at UCONN, signaling his potential as a shooter. Sanogo, who was an efficient as a scorer in college, could be a nice wrinkle to the second unit’s offense and teaming him up with Quickley (if he’s still a Knick when the season starts), could lead to a fun pick-and-roll combo, especially if Sanogo also has shooters he can kick out to off the roll. The 21 year-old big man may not be an elite defender but he does possess some mobility and showed that he can hedge and recover using his 7’3” wingspan when needed. Projected to go late in the second-round, Sanogo, who is a proven winner, could be an intriguing prospect for New York is they are looking for some proven talent and value late in the draft.