10 Draft Targets That Make Perfect Sense for New York Knicks
The 2013 NBA Draft is supposed to be one of the weakest in recent memory, but for a team like the New York Knicks looking for role players, there are plenty of prospects who can help out.
Picking at No. 24, the Knicks will be looking for someone who can contribute to their rotation right away, as they don't have the cap space to add many major bench players in free agency.
Taking upside into account as well, these are the top prospects New York should target, with a focus on filling their needs of a backup point guard, frontcourt depth and defensive help on the perimeter.
A lot has been made of the Knicks' lack of young talent, but if they can find a contributor with this pick, it will go a long way to adding some much-needed energy to next year's rotation.
Tony Mitchell, PF
College: North Texas
Weight: 236 lbs
Arguably the most athletic player in this year's draft, Tony Mitchell can add the explosiveness that the Knicks' frontcourt was missing last season.
Mitchell is a terrific shot-blocker and rebounder, which are two areas the Knicks struggled in last season. His 7'3" wingspan will also help him to be an effective defender on the wing and in the post, which is exactly what the Knicks should be looking for.
Offensively, Mitchell is still raw, but he has a developing mid-range jump shot and will be able to play above the rim from Day 1.
With the ability to play at either forward position, Mitchell will be perfect for New York's small ball system, as he can spread the floor without causing any major match-up problems defensively.
The big issue with Mitchell is that his numbers went down across the board last season, but a lot of that can be attributed to the lack of talent in his supporting cast. He had to take a bigger offensive load than he could handle, playing on a unit without effective spacing.
Before this year, he was considered to be a potential lottery pick, so if the Knicks think they can get the best out of him, this could be a great value pick late in the first round. In terms of both upside and short-term value, Mitchell seems like an ideal fit.
Gorgui Dieng, C
Weight: 230 lbs
With Marcus Camby suffering a number of injuries last season, it's clear New York needs someone else to help back up Tyson Chandler.
Louisville's Gorgui Dieng is an NBA-ready defender, who could turn into something special on that end of the floor if given the chance to learn under two former Defensive Player of the Year winners.
Dieng has the length, maturity and instincts to be an effective rim defender right away, and though he's already 23 years old, there's still room for him to improve moving forward.
Offensively, there's a lot of work left to be done for Dieng, but he can finish around the rim and has a solid face-up game. He's not someone that's going to be a major scorer in the post, but we aren't talking about a complete stiff either.
There's a chance that Dieng could be gone by this point, but a lot of mocks have him hanging around until late in the first round. If he does, this would undoubtedly be a safe pick.
This is someone who led one of college basketball's best defensive units to a national championship, and that's not something that should be taken lightly. The offensive game might not be there just yet, but defense is the priority at this position, and Dieng can provide just that.
Isaiah Canaan, PG
College: Murray State
Weight: 188 lbs
Now that Jason Kidd has retired and Pablo Prigioni could leave in free agency, the Knicks are in the market for a backup point guard.
What they really need out of the position is someone who can penetrate, with a well-rounded skill set so he can run the second unit.
That may be hard to find so late in the draft, but Isaiah Canaan is an under-the-radar player who could be an ideal fit.
Canaan was primarily a scorer at Murray State, averaging 22.4 points per game thanks to his athleticism, ball-handling and quick release.
There are worries that he may not have the passing to be a true floor general, but it's hard to tell, because his college team really needed him to score more than anything else. Given a chance to play with Amar'e Stoudemire on the Knicks' bench, things may be a lot different.
It's possible that Canaan could fall to the second round, so it may be a reach if New York took him at No. 24, but he addresses a need, and could end up being a steal, even at this point in the draft.
Without a doubt, Canaan is a natural scorer, but the Knicks may be taking a risk in drafting him with a pass-first role in mind.
Tony Snell, SF
College: New Mexico
Weight: 198 lbs
Long, defensive-minded wings played a huge role in this year's playoffs, and the Knicks not having many was a major reason why they were knocked out in the second round.
Tony Snell could be the answer to that problem, as his wiry frame and 7' wingspan will make him hard to score on at the NBA level. He'll still need to add strength, but as it stands, his physical tools are very impressive.
Defense isn't the only thing Snell brings to the table, though, as his shooting is arguably his main strength. He shot 39 percent from beyond the arc last season and will be able to contribute as a spot-up shooter with his smooth stroke.
Snell will need to work on other areas of his game—such as ball-handling and general assertiveness—to reach his potential, but shooting and defense are two skills he's already got set.
There's no guarantee for New York that both J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland will return, but if either leaves, Snell will help the team to recover. He's a better defender than both, and his shooting will make him a solid option offensively.
Looking at his upside, Snell could end up contributing the way Kawhi Leonard has for the San Antonio Spurs, as he has a similar build and has strengths in the same areas.
Mike Muscala, C
Weight: 230 lbs
The Knicks definitely need size this offseason, and though there are a few defensive bigs that should be available at No. 24, many of them lack a developed offensive skill set.
Mike Muscala, however, is one of the better scoring centers in this draft, after averaging 18.4 points per game with Bucknell last season. He's mobile, finishes well around the rim and has a consistent mid-range jumper to boot.
All of that led to Muscala winning the Patriot League Player of the Year award, but still it seems like he isn't being taken seriously as a first-round prospect, mainly due to physical limitations.
There are worries that Muscala doesn't have the strength to compete in the NBA, especially when it comes to defense, and that could sway the Knicks away from him if they want someone to defend the rim when Tyson Chandler is off the floor.
Still, Muscala's production has been very impressive, and it's clear that he at least has the skill to be a helpful player. As a win-now team, however, New York may not have the time to wait for him to improve his physical attributes.
If the Knicks can find a way to acquire an early second-round pick—possible by offering Steve Novak to a team that needs shooting—picking Muscala there rather than at No. 24 would make a lot of sense.
Reggie Bullock, SF
College: North Carolina
Weight: 200 lbs
Just like Tony Snell, Reggie Bullock would be a great alternative for the Knicks if they end up losing J.R. Smith or Chris Copeland in free agency.
Bullock can spread the floor with his outside shot and has a solid all-around build, already looking like an NBA small forward from a physical standpoint.
What he lacks in explosiveness, he makes up for with consistency and maturity, which will help him to be a solid role player for the Knicks. He has the make-up to be a potential starter at small forward, as he doesn't have too many glaring weaknesses and brings energy on defense.
Having had a chance to play in a high pressure environment at UNC, Bullock knows what it takes to win and understands how to contribute without necessarily being the star of the show.
He played second fiddle to bigger-name stars for a lot of his college career, but still managed to make a name for himself with good all-around play.
If the Knicks want someone who can contribute in multiple categories—shooting, perimeter defense, rebounding, fast-break offense and slashing—Bullock is a player who is solid in all areas. He may not have great upside, but you can't ask for much more as a young rotation player.
Allen Crabbe, SF
Weight: 197 lbs
Outside shooting was the name of the game for the Knicks last season, making Allen Crabbe's skill set a perfect fit offensively.
Playing at either shooting guard or small forward, Crabbe is a player who consistently finds ways to get open, where he punishes opposing defenses with his sweet stroke and NBA range.
Though he's smaller, Crabbe is a very similar player to Chris Copeland and would be an apt replacement, with more upside as a younger player. He can spread the floor, but he's also more athletic and excels in the fast break.
With a very high release point, Crabbe's shooting is truly something to marvel and will be hard to stop on a team that has offensive talent elsewhere, He'll be a great alternative on nights when J.R. Smith is cold or Carmelo Anthony needs extra help on the perimeter.
Crabbe isn't so good at creating his own shot, but that might not be a major issue on a team like this. What will be an issue, however, is mediocre defense, which isn't helped by his slight frame. With that said, a coach like Mike Woodson may be able to help.
No matter what, Crabbe is going to contribute to a team this season with his shooting, but his limitations may lead New York to look elsewhere. He's the best shooter they'll have a chance to draft, but that won't necessarily be a priority.
Nate Wolters, PG
College: South Dakota State
Weight: 196 lbs
Though he may not be as exciting as other point guard prospects, Nate Wolters is someone whose intelligence will almost certainly make him a reliable player in the NBA.
He doesn't have the athleticism of a player like Shane Larkin—who'll almost certainly be gone by the time the Knicks draft—but he still has the talent to be a backup for Raymond Felton.
Wolters isn't particularly strong or fast, but he is smart and found ways last year to get to the rim and score at a high level, averaging 22.6 points per game for South Dakota State.
Ball-handling, shooting and creativeness are staples of Wolters' game. He excels in the pick-and-roll, which will make him a perfect partner for Amar'e Stoudemire if the two were to join forces on New York's bench.
Wolters also has great size for a point guard and could potentially play off the ball if that's what's needed from him. The Knicks were running a dual point guard system when they were at their best last season, and he'd be perfect for that role.
The lack of physical tools is going to turn a lot of teams away from Wolters, but in terms of pure skill, he could be a steal at this late stage in the draft and would fill a major need for New York.
Jamaal Franklin, SG
College: San Diego State
Weight: 191 lbs
New York's perimeter defense was a major weakness last season, and though they have a future All-Defensive selection in Iman Shumpert, he can't do it on his own.
That's where Jamaal Franklin comes in. He's one of the best defensive guards this draft has to offer, in large part due to his 6'11" wingspan and a lot of athletic ability.
Franklin is also an extremely versatile player, functioning as a playmaker and mid-range shooter for San Diego State last season. The fact that he led his team in points, assists, rebounds and steals says it all.
Though the Knicks will (hopefully) have Shumpert and J.R. Smith in place as their shooting guards next season, Franklin's diverse skill set means it won't be waste of a pick to add another 2 guard. They can always move Smith to small forward and can potentially play Franklin or Shumpert at point guard.
Franklin is not an outside shooter by any means, but his presence on the team would be good for ball movement and defense. He can be a "glue guy" for the Knicks, helping in every category, and being a player who always has a reason to be on the court, regardless of the situation.
Essentially, this would be the Knicks' way of upgrading on what Ronnie Brewer gave them last season. He's a guy who will make open mid-range jump shots, rebound, play great defense and help out with passing and timely cuts to the basket.
Jeff Withey, C
Weight: 222 lbs
As college basketball's co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Jeff Withey would be a great backup for Tyson Chandler when it comes to defending the rim.
Withey has great length, with a 7'3" wingspan, and combined that with timing and smarts last season to emerge as a dominant shot-blocker. He's also relatively mobile and athletic, which again made him that much better as a defender.
Clearly, this is someone who has the knowledge and skill to be a defender, but what he may lack is the physical tools. He's tall, but not particularly strong, and that's not likely to improve (at least not significantly) because he's already 23 years old.
The move to the NBA may catch Withey out, and he may struggle to anchor a defense when going up against more physical bigs and having more athletic guards to try and defend the rim from.
On offense, Withey is also limited, and again his age suggests it will be tough for him to improve. He doesn't have any sort of developed post game or a jump shot. Unlike Chandler, he isn't even effective when it comes to the pick-and-roll.
Withey may be able to get by as a backup center on the defensive end, but he doesn't have the same upside as Gorgui Dieng or Mike Muscala. If those two are gone, however, and the Knicks want a center, it wouldn't be a terrible pick to bring him to New York. After all, you can't argue with his height or achievements at the college level.