By John Schmeelk
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With the draft just three days away, all the teams in the NBA are finalizing their boards and determining their favorite players. Below, you will see my final set of draft tiers.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
I define a tier as follows: I would not be overly surprised if a player within a specific tier ends up being better than any other. If a player in a lower tier turns out better than a player in a higher tier, that would be somewhat of a shock. In theory, there should be a significant drop off between each tier.
Keep in mind that the draft, by its nature, is a crap shoot. I’ll likely be wrong for more than one of these guys. That’s part of the fun.
I based the tiers off the Knicks’ specific needs, but I stress that New York should select the best talent available regardless of fit. Therefore the following tiers would, in theory, measure their talent level.
We Might Have Something Special; Potential Superstar
Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell
This is why I was so upset after the Knicks landed the fourth selection. These three players all have their flaws (though Karl-Anthony Towns has fewer holes than the other two), but they also have elite skills that should translate to the NBA and make them potential stars. The players in Tier 2 might have those skills, but I’m less sure about them for various reasons. My favorite comparison for Towns is David Robinson, while Jahlil Okafor could be anything between Al Jefferson and Tim Duncan. D’Angelo Russell is a fantastic shooter and passer, and would be a fantastic combo guard, creator and scorer. He might not get to their level but he flashes some James Harden and Stephen Curry from time to time.
Russell and Okafor’s issues are on defense, where neither distinguished themselves in college. But both are very capable of improving on that end based on what their schools asked them to do. Towns has a more complete game but didn’t show much offense at Kentucky (until the NCAA Tournament, where he showed a rudimentary post game). His high-school tapes and workouts, however, show a good shooting touch and passing skills. Towns will have to get stronger defensively, and foul less to stay on the floor. His rim protection is elite.
The Knicks will spend the next few days hoping the teams ahead of them — the Timberwolves, Lakers and 76ers — don’t have these guys atop their boards. There’s also a chance the Sixers trade their spot to a team that might value a different player.
Will Help The Team Win; Top-End Role Player Or Potential All-Star
Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, Justise Winslow, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein
In truth, if the Knicks draft any of the five players in Tier 2, they could be getting a potential All-Star. Each one has elite skills, but also a flaw or two that might hold them back. The question is whether the player can overcome that deficit and become more than he is now. All of them will be in the play for the Knicks at No. 4, and who they decide to pick could decide the future of the franchise for years. Since this tier goes to the eighth pick, the Knicks would be wise not to trade down if they decide to stick with one of these players.
Mudiay struggles with his shooting, doesn’t have the explosiveness of a John Wall, and only played a dozen or so games in China last year. He is also the best pure point guard in the draft with great size.
Porzingis has a body that will take a couple years to mature, if it ever does. He is too weak now to be anything more than a perimeter scorer, though he has rare scoring tools and quickness for a big man.
Winslow can’t shoot off the dribble, and might not be quick enough to drive on quicker NBA wing players. He is a fierce defender, great character guy and very hard worker.
Hezonja’s questions come with his basketball decision-making (some call him a chucker) and his air of overly brash confidence. His offensive game is as complete as anyone in the draft and plays against great competition in Europe.
Cauley-Stein doesn’t have an offensive game, spare some good shooting in workouts, and needs to add strength to be a defensive rebounder in the NBA. He might also be the most versatile defender to come out of college in years.
Should Be A Good Rotational Player And Perhaps Something More
Frank Kaminsky, Devin Booker, Stanley Johnson, Cameron Payne, Trey Lyles, Myles Turner, Bobby Portis
In my opinion, these players will likely be a significant drop-off from the eight players above. One or two might slip into Tier 2, but I don’t think any in this group will be perennial All-Stars. They aren’t bad players, but just rotation guys that could be a team’s fourth- or fifth-best starter, or top guy off the bench. If the Knicks trade down to draft someone from this group, they’d better get back a good young player on a rookie contract, and a future first-round pick no later than 2016. Getting rid of Jose Calderon could also be a possibility.
So will the Knicks trade up, down or stay put? There are good players to be had in each tier — they just need to pick the right one.MORE NEWS: Police: Suspect In Killing Of New Rochelle Taxi Driver Taken Into Custody After Shootout In Brooklyn
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