By John Schmeelk
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As the Knicks count down the hours to the NBA draft, they can’t help but feel somewhat powerless. Selecting No. 17 overall, the player(s) they end up with will depend more on the rest of the league as it will their own scouting. There’s no way the Knicks know who will be available when they finally go on the clock. That’s the fun for fans watching at home.
The one sure-fire way the Knicks can get who they really want? By trading up. Unfortunately, they have precious few assets. Also, the Knicks have to ask themselves if they can afford to give up one of their few pieces (Toney Douglas, Landry Fields) to move up a couple spots. With a roster so shallow, trading two for one isn’t something that makes a lot of sense.
Trading down is an unlikely possibility, unless the No. 17 pick comes along and there’s absolutely no one the Knicks like. This sort of trade could help the team deepen their roster by acquiring a second-round pick or a veteran. Trading out of the draft is also a possibility, with the Knicks acquiring either a veteran or first-round pick in next year’s draft. There’s not a lot to choose from this year, and the talent in 2012 should be better. A future first-round pick could also be used in a mid-year trade for a big player. The Knicks could also use a veteran to fill a glaring hole at guard or center. If only players below my “Double” category are available I would seriously consider a trade of some kind.
Since it’s baseball season, I’ve decided to break down potential draftees using some hardball vernacular. Odds are no one in the first two tiers will be available, with the “double” tier becoming a 50-50 style proposition. Here we go:
Home Run (potential starter, perhaps even in year 1)
Klay Thompson: With his height and shooting touch, he will spread the floor at the shooting guard position for Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. It looks like he will be gone in the late lottery, possibly to Golden State at eleven or the Bucks at ten.
Triple (immediate rotation player – could develop into a starter)
Chris Singleton: His defense first mentality is something the Knicks need, even if he plays behind Anthony. He can defend three positions right away with a developing jumper. Likely to go in bottom third of lottery, with the Jazz at number twelve a good possibility if they draft Brandon Knight at three.
Tristan Thompson: A slightly undersized power forward with tons of athleticism, a good motor, and room to improve. A bad fit for the Knicks but it would be too much upside to pass up. He is likely to be off the board by No. 15.
Bismack Biyombo: A super athlete with little offensive game, he could become the next Ben Wallace. He can rebound and play defense at the four or five right away, a huge need for the Knicks. His stock is all over the place – as high as Toronto at five to as low as the Knicks. Classic boom or bust pick.
Double (rotation player and potential future marginal starter)
Nikola Vucevic: He is seven feet tall, has a good shooting touch, and can rebound. Good numbers at USC. Won’t be an All-Star but should be able to put in 20-25 minutes at the five, a position of need for the Knicks. Potential landing spot at No.14 to Rockets or No. 16 to Sixers. The safe pick.
Markieff Morris: A traditional power forward that will rebound and play defense. You could get away with playing him at center next to Stoudemire. Recent workouts have put him going as high as No. 9.
Jimmer Fredette: Can he play point guard? If he can, he jumps a couple of tiers. I’m not sold on it. Would be a shooter to spread the floor off the bench, but isn’t that Toney Douglas’ role? Likely destinations include Sacramento, Utah, Phoenix or Indiana.
Single (bench player)
Darius Morris: True point guard with size out of Michigan. He can run a team and would be a perfect player for Chauncey Billups to groom. He will almost definitely be available when the Knicks pick.
Marshon Brooks: Scored 20+ at Providence but is very selfish and not the best teammate. Do the Knicks need another guy looking to score? He should be available when the Knicks pick.
Alec Burks: NBA athlete but he can’t shoot – a big problem when you’re a shooting guard. His stock is all over the map, going as high as 10 in some mock drafts.
Imam Shumpert: Not sure the last time a point guard was successful when he was a poor shooter, turnover prone, and a poor decision maker. Some peg him as a two-guard.
Jordan Hamilton: A shooter at the three but he mimics Carmelo too much. Not a need.
Kenneth Faried: One dimensional undersized rebounder. He can’t play next to Stoudemire.
Donatas Motiejunas: European player who can score down low but can’t rebound. Some say effort isn’t always there.
Jeremy Tyler: Skipped college and went on to struggle overseas. HUGE risk.
As it stands right now, I think there is a 70 percent chance the Knicks walk way with either Markieff Morris or Nikola Vucevic. Check in it at a 10 percent chance they get either Tristan or Klay Thompson, Fredette, Singleton or Biyombo. If the worst happens and all those players are off the board (20 percent), it will be panic time and Donnie Walsh should start to get creative.
You should also expect the Knicks to add one or two picks in the second round or late in the first round of the draft. Potential players for them in these spots include:
Darius Morris – unlikely to drop where the Knicks could buy pick to get him
Josh Selby – late first/early second
JaJuan Johnson – late first/early second (I love this guy – great numbers in college- could play right away)
Shelvin Mack – early second round – Would be a solid back-up point guard.
Charlie Jenkins – late first round/early second – Combo guard that can score
Andrew Goudelock – mid second round – Eddie House type instant offense shooter
Norris Cole – early/mid second round – point guard from Cleveland State that can play
Who the Knicks select with an added pick will be impacted by who they acquire with their first-round selection. In this draft they would love to come away with a point guard, center, and someone that can spread the floor and hit the open three. It’s Donnie Walsh’s last stand, and the Knicks need him to make the most of it.
– With no player movement in the near future with the CBA up in the air, expect a fair amount of player movement. Remember, the guys that get moved are often the guys no one hears about before the draft. Considering there are few future stars that will get picked, all the unpredictability should make it an exciting night.
– I think this could be one of those drafts where a potential top 10 guy drops, and drops far. The talent is very even after the top few guys come off the board, something that could help the Knicks.
– If the Wolves don’t take Derrick Williams at No. 2, I’ll be shocked. I don’t care what reports say. Then again, they just fired their coach the night before the draft, so who knows. The Jazz at three will be far more interesting. Will they go with Kanter over Brandon Knight?
– In terms of the Europeans I rank them as follows: Kanter, Voluncias, and then Vesley. Kanter appears to be a legit post up center, and Voluncias has more upside than Vesley. I’d take the chance on him even with a complicated buyout.
– I’m with scouts that don’t understand the love affair with Kemba Walker. He was a great college player but a classic tweener in the pro’s. I don’t see him as a long term starter.
I’ll be keeping a live blog during the draft and tweeting thoughts through the day and night at: http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk
What should the Knicks do? Trade up, down or stand pat? Sound off in the comments below…