The New York Knicks can afford to add some defense to their roster when they pick No. 48 overall in the 2012 NBA draft. Despite having Tyson Chandler, the Defensive Player of the Year, on their incredibly deep roster, the Knicks had players who were more offensive minded playing in a Mike Woodson system that puts an emphasis on defense.
The Knicks might have problems retaining the good defensive players they had last season. Iman Shumpert, who is the best defender the Knicks had in the back court, suffered a torn ACL in the playoffs and only began rehab a short time ago. Point guard Jeremy Lin is no guarantee to comeback to the team and the same goes for J.R. Smith. The Knicks will more than likely let Baron Davis go, considering the aging point guard also had to go through torn ACL surgery in early May.
One key to this team defensively last year was Jared Jeffries, the only other big man on the Knicks who can actually be relied on for defense. Jeffries is looking to return to the team, but with his knee troubles, it may be best for the Knicks to go in another direction. It is good for the Knicks to have a good defensive power forward on the floor with some of the less defensively gifted bigs the Knicks already have, like 6'10" Steve Novak.
Here is a list of draft prospects that can come in and play good defense for Mike Woodson's Knicks.
Tu Holloway is an excellent fundamental defender who played great man-to-man defense this season. He is a little undersized and may not be as quick as an elite NBA guard, but he is aggressive and uses his hands to interfere with shots and make steals. Holloway also has great defensive awareness: He's good at giving weak-side help or jumping the passing lane.
If the Knicks fail to re-sign Jeremy Lin, their starting point-guard role will not be filled in the draft. However, Holloway could be a good option coming off the bench for New York.
Jared Cunningham (1)
Jared Cunningham was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive First Team despite being on one of the worst defensive teams in the conference at Oregon State. The 6'4" Cunningham has been a steal machine in college, using his quick feet and hands to rank in the Top 10 in steals in each of the past two seasons.
Cunningham may be a stretch for the Knicks as he is projected to go much higher than No. 48, but if he does fall to the Knicks, he can be a great defensive combo guard and be used the way Shumpert was last season.
Out of the Czech Republic, Tomas Satoransky is a lanky, athletic combo guard who is active defensively and gets his hands on everything. His intensity and size are his greatest skills defensively, but Satoransky also has a very high basketball IQ. These smarts are going to be something the slow-footed Satoransky needs to keep up with faster NBA guards.
Satoransky is a much more likely option for the Knicks, as he is likely to be available at No. 48.
William Buford is a strong, athletic and aggressive guard with a special competitive edge. Though he is getting more professional looks as a scorer, Buford has a good fundamental skill set to become a good team defender.
Buford seems like the type of guard that the Knicks have been collecting for the past few years. He is a good scorer who has the ability to play well defensively if he wants to. If J.R. Smith is no longer an option for New York, Buford would be a decent pick.
Jae Crowder is a tough, versatile player who is relentless on both ends of the floor. This aggression paired with a body that scouts gawk at, will make Crowder a great man-to-man defender in the NBA.
Crowder can be an option for a Knicks team that is looking to get bigger, faster and stronger. He would be a good small forward option in an isolation offense that features Carmelo Anthony.
Kostas Papanikolaou is another one of those guys whose intensity will make him a good defender in the NBA. He has the size and the fundamentals to be a good team defender as well as an aggressive man-to-man defender.
He does not have the size that Jae Crowder does, so if the Knicks were going to select a small forward in this spot and have the option of Crowder or Papanikolaou, the team would more than likely go with Crowder.
Drew Gordon is a physical defender who likes to block shots, thanks to his length and aggression. If his body fills out, Gordon can become a strong presence down in that low block area. Gordan can be overaggressive at times, but he is a good option for a team looking for someone to play defense for 12 minutes per game.
Gordon can be a Jared Jeffries type player with a better offensive upside. If the Knicks do not retain Jeffries and do want to get a rookie to fill that role, Gordon will be a good option that is going to be available this late in the draft.
Eric Griffin is a legitimate shot-blocking threat. He is explosive athletically with a tremendous amount of quickness. He becomes a difficult matchup for face-up power forwards, and if he packs on some muscle, he is going to become a problem for people trying to score in the low post.
Griffin does not quite have the type of size the Knicks would be looking for in someone to take on that Jared Jeffries role, but he is a talented player from a mid-major who could flourish if he is developed by the right people.