New York Knicks Have a Tough Choice with Eighth Pick

John GallagherContributor IJune 14, 2009

MILWAUKEE - MARCH 26: Brandon Jennings #3 of the West team brings the ball upcourt ahead of JaMychal Green #50 of the East team during the McDonald's All-American High School basketball game on March 26, 2008 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As a Knicks fan, I know all too well how these drafts go:

"With the 20th pick of the 2006 draft, the New York Knicks select ... Renaldo Balkman ..."
"With the eighth pick of the 2005 draft, the New York Knicks select ... Channing Frye ..."
"With the 15th pick of the 1999 draft, the New York Knicks select ... Frederick Weis ..."

It's tough trying to pay attention to a draft when you have a feeling the Knicks were just going to take a guy who was either: A) The safe pick—i.e. what you see is what you get, or B) The athlete—the guy who can't shoot, defend or dribble but BOY, can he jump high! That was the theme of the Isiah Thomas era, an era that's mostly hazy to me because it drove me to fits of alcoholism. Donnie Walsh comes in and everything's going to be better!

Enter Danilo Gallinari. Yes, he played well after he came back from his injury. Yes, he shoots the ball very well, and he seems to be a legit threat behind the arc. However, drafting a guy with a history of back problems with THE SIXTH PICK OVERALL?! No. I was bullish on him when his name was first spoke, and I haven't changed my mind yet.

How do Knicks fans usually treat the draft? We boo. Much like Jets fans, which I am also, we don't know what we want. Draft Gholston? Booo. Draft Sanchez? Booo. That's a given. Just leave us alone, let us boo the pick, Stephen A. Smith (if he's there) and David Stern. It's our job to be annoying—we're New Yorkers!

Deep down, we really, really, want our team to succeed. Listen to WFAN once in a while ... actually, don't. I don't want to bring you any harm. As long as we know that our team is trying to get better and David Stern doesn't smugly walk up to the podium and proclaim "With the eighth pick of the 2009 draft, the New York Knicks select ... Betty White" we will probably be fine with everything.

In this fan's humble opinion, I would prefer they take Brandon Jennings. Jennings is the pass-first athletic point guard we haven't had since the Mark Jackson/Rod Strickland duo we had until 1992. Charlie Ward? Stop that. Look at some of the names we've had at the position after we traded both Jackson and Rod Strickland:

  • Charlie Ward
  • Chris Childs
  • 104-year-old Mugsy Bogues
  • 209-year-old cyborg version of Mark Jackson
  • The Ghost of Frank Williams
  • Nate Robinson
  • Stephon Marbury
  • Chris Duhon
  • Derek Harper
  • Doc Rivers
  • Hubert Davis

You get the picture. Some, like Derek Harper, weren't all that bad. Marbury should get a pass, but he's a jerk who got paid like a superstar to wear a suit next to Eddy Curry. Duhon is a decent guard, but his stats are inflated due to Mike D'Antoni's style.

Jennings is quick and an amazing passer with a great basketball IQ. He's good defensively, his maturity has come along, and he has played tougher competition overseas (albeit with mixed results in limited minutes). His jumper falls, he can drive down the lane and is a decent free-throw shooter. His NBA comparison right now is Rajon Rondo, and that's not bad at all.

Some people want Stephen Curry, and I'm not one of them. He's not a good defender, with taller guards routinely shooting over him with ease. He's a streaky shooter, and when they moved the three-point line back this year he struggled. How will he cope in the NBA when the line is even farther back? You can say that it was because of the talent playing around him (or lack thereof) and that opposing teams just focused on him. Others say the Knicks could take him and move him to point guard because he's short. Why do you draft a shooting guard and then move him to point guard when there's a better point guard (and I say overall player) still on the board in Jennings?

The Knicks are obviously playing for the 2010 free-agent signing period. LeBron James is their target; I know it, you know it, your grandma remembers hearing something like that on the radio while listening to Amos and Andy.

Let Jennings grow for a year, give him some rookie minutes (about 15 a game) and you'll see that he's a real player. Drafting Jennings also gives the Knicks an opportunity to not sign Nate, clearing whatever insane contract he's going to demand. Sign David Lee, draft Jennings, sign LeBron next year and hopefully refrain from signing Steve Nash.

If they draft either Curry or Jennings, I'll obviously be happy. Chances are that Curry will already be off the board at eight. Whoever they select, however, I will be screaming a boo or two.