Best 2013 NBA Draft Options for NY Knicks to Boost Bench Attack
Picking at No. 24, the Knicks will have a wide range of options available to them, with plenty of players capable of filling their needs. They'll need to pick wisely, though, because free agency will be a lot tougher if they miss on this pick.
Most glaringly, New York will be on the lookout for a backup point guard or frontcourt depth, but there's a chance they could look elsewhere if a better player at another position falls to the back end of the first round.
Being realistic, these are the best eight players New York will have a chance to draft on June 27, all with the potential to boost the bench attack.
The players will be assessed based on whether or not they fill a need, if they are NBA-ready right now and if they have the potential to be a major piece in future years.
Shane Larkin, PG
Weight: 171 lbs
If the Knicks want to address their need for a backup point guard, Miami's Shane Larkin is clearly the best option.
Larkin has the speed and athleticism to give New York exactly what it needs out of the position, providing the penetration that the second unit lacked with Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd.
At the combine, Larkin posted the second-best vertical leap in NBA history at 44 inches, which is better than any jump recorded at the combine amongst active players. He was also the fastest player at the combine, which would really help the Knicks' mediocre fast-break offense.
Beyond the physical tools, Larkin appears to have the skills to be a true floor general, proving last season that he's an excellent passer and decision-maker. In particular, he thrives in the pick-and-roll, making him a perfect partner for Amar'e Stoudemire if the two were to play together off the bench.
Larkin's lack of size could cause some problems at the next level, but this is far outweighed by his athleticism and pure skill. When you look at the entire package, the Knicks shouldn't let his slight frame be a deterrent.
Unfortunately for New York, it's unlikely that he'll fall all the way to No. 24. Some mocks have him going to the Knicks, but the reality is that it will take a minor miracle for Larkin to end up at MSG.
Larkin himself even rejected the opportunity to work out with the Knicks because he expects to be drafted between the 13th and 23rd picks. On the odd chance that he is available, though, drafting Larkin would be an absolute no-brainer.
Tony Mitchell, PF
College: North Texas
Weight: 235 lbs
After all the injuries they faced last season, it's clear that the Knicks need some youth and energy in the frontcourt.
Tony Mitchell would be a perfect fit in that regard, and his versatility and athleticism make him a very intriguing option.
During his two seasons at North Texas, Mitchell emerged as a physical force, with a penchant for rebounding and shot-blocking—two departments which were weaknesses for the Knicks last year.
He can play at either forward position, which will be particularly helpful if the Knicks continue to play small.
Mitchell's performance last season wasn't up to expectations—which will help him fall to the Knicks—but it's clear that he has the talent to be an eventual starter in the NBA. Even if that outcome doesn't materialize, at the very least he can fill the short-term need of providing help off the bench.
Offensively, he has a dynamic game and can play above the rim, in the pick-and-roll or even as a mid-range shooter.
There's no guarantee that Chris Copeland and Kenyon Martin will return next season, but drafting Mitchell would help New York get by if either player leaves town.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
Weight: 199 lbs
With Iman Shumpert and hopefully J.R. Smith in place, the Knicks would appear to be set at shooting guard, but they might be convinced to add another if Tim Hardaway Jr. is available at No. 24.
Hardaway was part of a very talented Michigan team last year and as a result wasn't a stand-out performer, but he does have the skill set to work out at the next level.
Overall, he has a very well-rounded game, with a nice jump shot, good defensive skills and the ability to score as a slasher. Along with his passing, this will help him fit in with New York's offense, where he could take the role Ronnie Brewer had in the first half of last season.
In terms of physical tools, Hardaway has a good mix of speed and strength, but his lack of explosiveness and wingspan will be a lot more evident as a professional. Still, he should be able to get to the rim consistently, which is something the Knicks lacked in their jump-shot-heavy offense.
Hardaway would be a solid pick and a good contingency plan if New York is worried about missing out on J.R. Smith, but it would be a risk to spend their only draft pick on him. Unless they envision him developing significantly in future years, a more pressing need should be addressed with this pick.
Nate Wolters, PG
College: South Dakota State
Weight: 190 lbs
If Shane Larkin doesn't fall to No. 24, there will still be plenty of point guards to choose from, and Nate Wolters from South Dakota State is one of the best.
Wolters has great height at 6'4", which he used to his advantage last year as an elite scorer, averaging 22.6 points per game, along with 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
Though he lacks athleticism, Wolters makes up for it with his decision-making and perimeter shooting, both of which should translate in the NBA.
He has great range but isn't afraid to drive for the rim either, making him a great fit. Getting to the line was an issue for New York's guards last year, but it's something that Wolters does consistently.
Because of his height and shooting, Wolters will be able to play off the ball as well, which is important considering how often the Knicks went with the dual-point-guard lineup last season. His primary role would be to back up Raymond Felton, but it doesn't hurt that he'll be able to play alongside him, too.
On the defensive end, Wolters' lack of speed is a worry, but if the Knicks want a well-rounded player who can run the second unit, his offensive tools would suggest he can fill the role.
Gorgui Dieng, C
Weight: 245 lbs
Tyson Chandler is in desperate need of a quality back-up, and though Marcus Camby is still on the roster, he's too injury-prone to be relied on for a full season.
Instead, the Knicks could look to the draft, where there are two great defensive centers who should be available late in the first round.
The first of these player's is Gorgui Dieng, who anchored Louisville's fierce defense en route to a national championship.
Dieng has great size and length, which he used to his advantage along with his quickness and athleticism to defend the rim. Beyond his ability to block shots, Dieng's defensive prowess is evident in the post as well, where he excels as a one-on-one defender.
Clearly, his strengths are on the defensive end, but Dieng also has a decent offensive game. He's a face-up player with a consistent mid-range jump shot, which will help to spread the floor when Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire is working in the post.
While some parts of his game are still relatively raw, Dieng is perfectly suited to being an effective backup center right away, and would have no problem filling New York's need if drafted at No. 24.
Jeff Withey, C
Weight: 235 lbs
After Gorgui Dieng, the other defensive-minded center the Knicks could target is Jeff Withey, who won co-National Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, along with Victor Oladipo.
Withey is a terrific shot-blocker, and standing at 7' tall with a huge wingspan, he should continue to defend the rim at a high level in the NBA. That will make it much easier for the Knicks to rest Tyson Chandler and hopefully keep him healthy for next year's playoffs.
Mobility is a key part of Withey's game, but as a result he might not have the strength to deal with more physical centers in the low post. He'll likely try to add weight in the future, but it remains to be seen whether that will take away from his style of play.
Like Chandler, Withey gets most of his points around the rim, relying on the pick-and-roll to create opportunities. He doesn't have an effective jump shot, and though he can occasionally score in the post, it's hardly his strong point.
Withey can help anchor the defense when Chandler is off the floor, but his lack of offense and upside make him a limited player.
The Knicks don't necessarily need a major scorer out of the position, but if he's available, Dieng may be the better option of the two, as he can handle himself more on offense and has a higher ceiling.
Allen Crabbe, SF
Weight: 210 lbs
New York's offense focused primarily on outside jump shots last season, and California's Allen Crabbe would fit perfectly into the system as an excellent outside shooter.
Crabbe has the range to continue shooting at a high percentage in the NBA. He can play at either wing spot, and he would be a good alternative to J.R. Smith on the inevitable nights when his shot is off.
Beyond shooting, Crabbe doesn't have a great offensive game, as he struggles to create shots for himself or get to the basket. There's still a chance that he could develop a more well-rounded game moving forward, but either way his primary offensive role on the Knicks would be as a shooter.
New York is really in need of players who can contribute on both ends of the floor. In the past, Crabbe hasn't been particularly great on defense, but that could change under a coach like Mike Woodson.
Because of his shooting, there's no doubt that Crabbe would be able to fill a role on the Knicks, especially if Smith leaves in free agency. Addressing another need may be smarter here, but Crabbe's range could make New York think twice before passing up on him.
Isaiah Canaan, PG
College: Murray State
Weight: 188 lbs
Though Shane Larkin and Nate Wolters are nice prospects, Isaiah Canaan from Murray State is a fine alternative if New York finds them off the board and still wants to address the back-up point guard role.
Canaan was a fantastic scorer last season, showing off a great jump shot along with impressive ball-handling and the ability to get to the basket. He was relied upon for the majority of his team's offenseand responded with 22.4 points per game on 42.9 percent from the field.
The big question for Canaan is whether he'll be effective as a true floor general, as the team really needed him as a scorer last season. His passing ability is relatively unknown at this point, and it might not be safe to assume he'll be a playmaker with better teammates around him.
Even so, Canaan's confidence and drive would make him a popular player at MSG. Given the chance to develop under the tutelage of Mike Woodson and Raymond Felton, he could end up as a major piece for the future.
New York could be reaching by taking Canaan at No. 24, but this is a position of need,and he did look very impressive over the course of his college career. If the front office could find a way to acquire a second-round pick and take him with it, that would be a great value move.
If not, drafting Canaan in the first round wouldn't be a major mistake, as he's somewhat underrated, and could surprise people once he makes it to the NBA.