By John Schmeelk
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Earlier this week, we talked about the Knicks’ needs in this year’s draft. Today we’ll take a look at their options when they select at No. 24.
I believe the Knicks are willing to move the pick, though finding a match could be tough. They could reacquire someone like Kostas Papanikolaou, but to deal a first rounder for someone taken in the second round seems silly, even if the Knicks get a second-round pick back in the deal. Packaging the pick with Steve Novak or Marcus Camby for a decent veteran appears unrealistic.
Their target should be:
Tony Mitchell: For once, I agree with the much-rumored selection for the Knicks at No. 24. He’s a good fit for the team and provides athleticism, talent, an NBA-ready body (6-foot-9, 236 pounds) and a very high ceiling at a position of need. He’ll provide defense and rebounding help right away and can finish around the basket. He’s exactly the type of athlete the Knicks were missing last year. This would be the perfect scenario for New York since Mitchell could play right away and develop into an impact starter down the road.
Backup plans at forward: Sergey Karasev, Giannis Adetokunbo (a real project) and Reggie Bullock (pray for him to fall) are all small forwards and should be off the board.
Glen Rice Jr: He is a good athlete and can rebound, play defense and do things around the basket. But he is inconsistent with his jumper and many think he is a small forward in a shooting guard’s body. Whether he can play small forward in the NBA at 6-foot-6 is a fair question.
The Knicks could also choose to protect themselves at point guard and shooting guard if Pablo Prigioni and/or J.R. Smith decide to leave. Shane Larkin would be perfect as a backup point guard for the Knicks but the chance he falls to 24th overall are slim to none.
The Knicks will likely be left to choose from:
Isaiah Canaan: He’s a great athlete and can penetrate, but this Murray State alumni has a shoot-first mentality. That’s not what the Knicks need out of their point guard position.
Nate Wolters: He had to be a more of a scorer at South Dakota State but many believe he showed the skills to be a pass-first distributor. He has size at 6-foot-5 and can shoot the ball extremely well. The big question is whether he has the athleticism and lateral quickness to get to the basket and defend. Many project him as a second-round pick, so taking him at 24 might be a bit of a reach, but I think he fits.
The Knicks have more options at shooting guard where they have a huge variety of guys to choose from:
Jamaal Franklin: This guy did everything for San Diego State last year, and brings a versatile game to the NBA. He is 6-foot-5 but has a 6-foot-11 wingspan. The big knock on him is his inconsistent jumper. He could probably get away with playing some small forward in the NBA.
Tim Hardaway Jr.: He is polished and can shoot the basketball. Hardaway is a good athlete and can defend his position adequately, but some wonder if he can ever be more than a shooter. Struggles creating his own shot and getting to the rim.
Tony Snell: He has great length at 6-foot-7 with 7-foot wingspan and could probably play some SF in the NBA as well. He can catch and shoot and defend with his body type, but he doesn’t do much else offensively. He was also very inconsistent at New Mexico.
Allen Crabbe: A good shooter and scorer but he lacks the athleticism you like to see out of a two-guard.
Ricky Ledo: He never played a game of college basketball after the NCAA made him ineligible. He was a great scorer in high school and has great athleticism. But he is a huge risk guy that would be a reach.
If the Knicks decide Camby is toast and go big, there are a number of safer picks available. Both Kelly Olynyk (who is ready as an offensive player) and Mason Plumlee (who is a great athlete at power forward) will likely be gone when the Knicks pick.
These bigs could be there:
Gorgui Deng: A guy that can really defend, block shots and rebound but he is very raw offensively. His improving mid-range jumper could make him stick in the NBA. People also rave about his screening.
Jeff Whithey: He is a legit 7-footer that is all about defense and rebounding. He averaged nearly four blocks a game in college, and that skill should be able to translate to the NBA. Unless he finds a way to be a factor on offense I’m not sure he will ever be much more than 15-20 minute a game defensive center. Should be on the board for the Knicks at 24.
Rudy Gobert: He is very tall, long and young. That is the best thing to say about someone who is very raw as a basketball player. Stay away.
So where do the Knicks go if they are at 24, and Tony Mitchell isn’t on the board? Who should they pick?
This is my final order after Mitchell (assuming the guys I think will be off the board will indeed be gone): Jamaal Franklin, Glen Rice Jr., Tim Hardaway Jr., Ricky Ledo, Tony Snell, Nate Wolters, Gorgui Deng, Jeff Whithey, and Allen Crabbe.
If Mitchell is off the board, however, and only the above seven are left, I would have no issue with the Knicks trading down. It’s not a great draft but there is depth from 15-24, and the Knicks desperately need to take advantage of it. It’s one of the few ways they can improve this offseason.
You can follow me on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants and New York sports.
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