2013 NBA Draft: Prospects Who Make Perfect Sense for NY Knicks
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The New York Knicks have few trade assets and are over the luxury tax threshold, which eliminates the possibility of sign-and-trade deals. It also restricts them to the "mini" mid-level exception and veteran-minimum contracts to use on free agents. That leaves the draft as the only remaining means for general manager Glen Grunwald to improve the team.
Before the Knicks consider what type of player to add in the draft, they must decide which style of basketball they are going to play next season. Mike Woodson's team won the Atlantic Division playing small-ball, but struggled to match up with a bigger Indiana Pacers team in the playoffs.
New York has the 24th pick in the draft and could use help at just about every position. Point guard is an area of concern due to the retirement of Jason Kidd and possible departure of Pablo Prigioni.
Wing players who can spread the floor and defend are at a premium throughout the league, and the Knicks are no exception. They would like to add a perimeter player with the length and agility to back up the 2 and 3.
The Knicks are also interested in beefing up their frontcourt. Woodson is not comfortable playing veteran Marcus Camby, and Kenyon Martin will be a free agent this summer. New York is searching for another reliable big man who can protect the rim when Tyson Chandler is not in the game.
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The New York Knicks need a deep frontcourt to compete with the size of the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets over the next few years. Gorgui Dieng, the defensive anchor for the champion Louisville Cardinals, is the type of player they are looking for.
Dieng averaged 2.5 blocked shots per game in his junior season and measured at 6'11'' with a 7'4'' wingspan at the combine, which should make him a defensive force at the next level. He would also help the Knicks on the glass, an area in which they struggled this past season.
The Senegal native does not possess a back-to-the-basket game. He scores most of his points on putbacks and dumpoffs, though he demonstrated a soft touch from 12-15 feet during the NCAA Tournament, which the Knicks could utilize in pick-and-pops.
The former Cardinal is also a surprisingly gifted passer for a player his size.
Draftexpress.com has Dieng slated to the Brooklyn Nets with the 22nd pick. However, he is 23 years old, and teams tend to shy away from older players on draft night because of their perceived lack of upside. The big man could still be available for the Knicks at No. 24.
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Jeff Withey is another potential backup center who could be on the Knicks' radar. Withey made tremendous strides during his career at the University of Kansas, developing into one of the better two-way players in the country by the end of his senior season.
Withey's greatest strength is his help defense. He blocked 3.9 shots per game this past season. The San Diego native is a legitimate 7-footer and quick off his feet, which should translate to success in the NBA.
The center developed some post moves during his collegiate career and carried the Jayhawks offense at times late in the season when Ben McLemore disappeared. But his post game is not polished enough to be effective against NBA defenders.
The biggest concern about Withey is his thin frame. The 7-footer weighed in at just 225 pounds at the combine and at 23 years old may not be able to add much bulk. That lack of size will make it difficult for him to establish position on both ends of the floor and limit his effectiveness in pick-and-rolls.
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Tony Mitchell is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year's draft. He has the size (6'8'', 236 pounds) and skill (he shot 44 percent on three-point attempts as a freshman) to play the 4 in the NBA and the wingspan (7'2.5'') and athleticism to defend multiple positions.
However, the 21-year-old comes with multiple red flags. His production and efficiency dropped significantly from his freshman to sophomore year. The most notable decline was in his shooting percentages, which plummeted from 57 percent to 44 percent from the field and 44 percent to 29 percent from behind the arc.
The forward looked disinterested at times on the court, though that may have been attributed to an ill-fated coaching change. Teams also question the quality of competition he faced at the University of North Texas in the Sun Belt Conference.
Mitchell will be a tempting option for the Knicks if he is still on the board for the 24th pick. He would be an ideal stretch 4 in Coach Woodson's system, offering an upgrade to New York's frontcourt defense—he averaged 3.0 and 2.7 blocked shots per game in his two seasons at North Texas.
Mitchell's presence would also allow Carmelo Anthony to move back to his natural position at small forward.
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Jamaal Franklin's game resembles that of his former teammate at San Diego State University, Kawhi Leonard. Franklin is a very good athlete, with a high motor. He is an exceptional rebounder for his size (6'5'') and has an enormous wingspan (6'11''), which allows him to defend multiple positions.
Like Leonard, the biggest question mark surrounding his game heading into the draft is his outside shot. Franklin connected on his just 40.4 percent of his attempts from the field and 27.9 percent of his shots from downtown during his junior season at San Diego State.
His shooting struggles may have been due in part to the heavy load he carried for Steve Fisher's club. Franklin was the Aztecs' primary playmaker and led the team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals.
The Knicks are in the market for a wing player after the retirement of Jason Kidd, and must protect themselves against the possibility that J.R. Smith will sign with another team. Franklin and Iman Shumpert could form a devastating defensive backcourt for New York.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Tim Hardaway Jr. had a solid, if not spectacular, junior season for a University of Michigan team that advanced to the NCAA championship game. His biggest improvement came from behind the arc, where his shooting percentage climbed from 28 percent in 2011-12 to 36 percent this past season.
That ability to stretch the floor could draw interest from a Knicks team that set a record for the most three-pointers in a season. Hardaway also has good size for a shooting guard (6'5''), competes on every possession and is very coachable.
He is a good athlete who can finish on the break, though not explosive enough to be a primary scoring option. Defensively, he is fundamentally sound. He takes proper angles and makes timely rotations.
Glen Rice Jr.
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Glen Rice Jr. is another shooting guard with an NBA pedigree who could pique Grunwald's interest.
Six months ago, Rice's career appeared to be in the dumps. The son of former Knick Glen Rice Sr. joined the NBA's Developmental League after being kicked off of his college team at Georgia Tech in March 2012.
As of late January, he was averaging just 6.6 points per game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Rice was inserted into the Vipers starting lineup on February 4 and responded with 35 points, on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, and 15 rebounds. He continued to produce over the remainder of the season and led the Vipers to the D-League championship, averaging 29 points, 11.5 rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks per game in the championship series (via Draftexpress.com.)
Like his father, Rice's forte is his outside shot, though he can also put the ball on the floor and finish around the rim.
Most mock drafts project Rice to come off the board in the late first round or early second round. According to Knicksnow.com, he worked out for the Knicks on June 11, and could be on the team's radar.
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Allen Crabbe is one of the top shooters in the draft and would make a great addition to the Knicks' second unit. He connected on 38 percent of his three-point attempts during his three seasons at the University of California, many of which were launched from well behind the arc.
Crabbe has a strong mid-range game as well. He is an excellent spot-up shooter, and he also places pressure on defenses with his constant motion and ability to knock down shots coming off of screens. His quick release will allow him to get shots off against long NBA defenders.
The Cal product has desirable height (6'6'') and length (6'11" wingspan) for a 2-guard, but he is rail thin and could be muscled out of position by stronger players. He is also not much of a playmaker.
Crabbe will be competing with wing players such as Hardaway, Franklin, Reggie Bullock and Ricky Ledo for the attention of teams selecting in the mid-to-late first round.
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The Knicks need a young point to back up Raymond Felton. Kidd and Prigioni did a serviceable job last season, though one retired and the other may not be back with the team. Plus, neither was quick enough to turn the corner on pick-and-rolls and break down a defense.
Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams will be long gone when the Knicks are on the clock. Shane Larkin's agent, Steve McCaskill, told SNY.tv. that his client would not work out for the Knicks because "we don’t feel like he’s going to be on the board when they select.”
Isaiah Canaan out of Murray State University may be the next best point guard available.
Canaan is a shoot-first point guard in the mold of San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal. He shot 42 percent from downtown during his career at Murray State and has a knack for knocking down shots off the dribble.
The Knicks would probably need another ball-handler on the floor with him to run the offense, which could be challenging because at 5'11'', Canaan cannot defend shooting guards.
Yet do not be fooled by the former Murray State Racer's short stature. He is built like a bull and is able to absorb contact around the basket.