The New York Knicks have a few pressing needs heading into the offseason, and with limited cap space, they're going to have to make sure they address one of them in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Picking at No. 24, the Knicks should have a variety of options available to them, but the one prospect they can't afford to pass up is North Texas' Tony Mitchell.
After all of the injuries it faced last season, it's clear that New York's frontcourt needs to get a lot younger and more athletic, and Mitchell can help with that.
Mitchell is arguably the most athletic player in the draft, and has all the physical tools necessary to succeed in the NBA.
At 6'8" with a 7'3" wingspan, he has the length to be a very effective defender, and his leaping ability will allow him to play above the rim as an explosive force. He also weighs in at 236 lbs, which will help him compete in the post against physical bigs.
The Knicks were particularly weak in the shot-blocking and rebounding departments last season, and Mitchell excels at both. He averaged 2.7 blocks last season, along with 8.5 rebounds, leading his team in both categories.
With the chance to play alongside two former Defensive Player of the Year winners in Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby, as well as a great defensive coach in Mike Woodson, he could end up being a major force on that end of the floor.
Offensively, Mitchell averaged 13 points per game last season, showing an ability to finish around the rim and spread the floor with a developing jump shot. Playing on a weak team, he was forced to take a large part of the scoring load, which is why his field goal percentage dropped from 57 percent in 2011-12 to 44 percent in 2012-13.
Before the season, Mitchell was touted as a potential lottery pick, but his production dropped across the board, which is why he will likely fall in the late first round.
New York shouldn't be turned off by Mitchell's drop in production last season, as a lot of that had to do with the lack of a supporting cast he had around him. Instead, it should look at this as an opportunity to get a great value pick at No. 24.
If he can make good on his athleticism and talent, Mitchell has the potential to be a starter at the NBA level. But for the time being, he's a player who could help the Knicks right away as a role player.
With the versatility to play at either forward position, he's perfect for the small-ball offense, and can be an effective player on the defensive end as well.
The Knicks had a distinct lack of two-way players last season, which is a big part of why they were knocked out in the second round by the Indiana Pacers. At forward, they couldn't rely on J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland or Steve Novak to contribute on offense and defense. Drafting Mitchell with the No. 24 pick will provide the Knicks with a more well-rounded alternative at forward.
Although he still has a lot to work on to refine his game, if New York is looking for someone who can fill its exact needs and develop into someone special in the future, it shouldn't look any further than Tony Mitchell.
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