New York Knicks: 10 Players They Should Target in the 2011 NBA Draft
Hey, Knicks fans. I bet you're feeling good after New York dominated Detroit in the fourth quarter en route to an 18 point win last night, even though most of you are going to school or work on another brutally cold morning in the city.
Well, pardon me to worsen your case of the Mondays, but I have a statistic that's going to make you want to punch through a brick wall.
Since Patrick Ewing was drafted in 1985, the Knicks have only picked one player who has lasted more than five full seasons with the team.
That player was Charlie Ward, and he is the only one of 50 players who garnered that honor.
Yes, I said one of 50.
Allow me, then, to feel a little pessimistic about the Knicks' upcoming draft pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. For the record, yes, the Knicks have a first-round draft pick this year. Don't get too greedy though, because the Knicks don't have a second-round pick.
So which player will be picked by the Knicks, only to be traded away or cut in a few seasons? Here are 10 players New York should target in the draft.
Drafting Logistics, Needs and Philosophy
The Knicks are currently slated to pick either 17th or 18th in the 2011 NBA Draft. They share a 25-22 win-loss record with the Portland Trail Blazers, and 16 NBA teams have worse records as of January 31.
Since non-lottery draft order is decided strictly via regular season win-loss record and not where a team finished in the playoffs like the NFL, the Knicks and Blazers would be entered into a random drawing to decide who would pick 17th.
Don't count on the Knicks picking better than 17th. The 14 teams that miss the playoffs automatically get entered into the lottery. Unless Amar'e Stoudemire misses significant time down the road, don't expect the Knicks to fall below the Eastern Conference's No. 6 seed (the Knicks are currently four games ahead of the 21-26 76ers). Hence, the East's No. 7 and No. 8 seeds will grab the 15th and 16th draft slots.
Ultimately, expect a draft pick in the late teens.
The Knicks need a solid center who can play defense, but that's not to be found at their current draft position. Instead, there are some high energy power forwards the Knicks can consider who can provide depth down low. Furthermore, New York could use some depth at point and shooting guard, specifically players who can lock down a defender and shoot the three.
Ultimately, the Knicks need to get somebody, anybody, who can be an immediate contributor in 2011-12. New York is being built to win now and can't afford to continue a rebuilding process for much longer if Carmelo Anthony comes on board this offseason.
Stats as of January 31: 19.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 46.5 FG percentage, 30.6 3FG percentage
The 6'6" sophomore from Colorado is all over the first round, falling anywhere from the mid-lottery to mid-first round. He is best at scoring in transition and creating for himself at the rim, but he needs to improve his outside shooting to make a mark at the NBA level.
Unfortunately, his numbers have dipped from his freshman year. He shot 53.8 percent from the field his freshman year, and that has dropped to 46.5 percent this season. Furthermore, his three-point shooting percentage has gone from 35.2 percent to 30.6 percent.
Burks would be a good fit for the Knicks if they want to obtain a high energy guy off the bench, but if they want a marksman, they should look elsewhere.
Stats as of January 31: 17.1 PPG, 14.3 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 62.3 FG percentage
The 6'8", 215 pound senior from Morehead State plays in the extraordinarily weak Ohio Valley Conference (ranked 27th in the nation by analyst Ken Pomeroy), but he's played some solid games against top competition. He went for 14 and 11 against No. 1 seed Louisville in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Faried also out-played surefire top five pick Jared Sullinger this year, scoring 15 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and making five steals compared to Sullinger's eight points and eight rebounds. Ohio State won 64-45.
Some players just have a nose for the ball. Faried has that, plus a high energy level that can't be taught. He may have trouble defending bigger power forwards in the NBA, but he won't have trouble finding a loose ball for a rebound. Currently projected anywhere from the middle of the first round to the beginning of the second round, the Knicks should give him a look.
Stats as of January 31: 27.6 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 48.1 FG percentage, 43.4 3FG percentage, 1.46 A/T
Don't compare J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison to BYU senior Jimmer Fredette. Redick and Morrison relied on teammates to help them create their own shots. Fredette is one of the craftiest players in college hoops in creating his own shot. He has this "Steve Nash" ability to find the holes in the defense and drive for a layup or a short pull-up jumper.
The problem will be whether the 6'2" sharpshooter can run an offense on the next level. He is not receiving great practice in this regard, since his offense is much like the Milky Way Galaxy's planetary system, with Jimmer Fredette acting as the Sun. Have you ever seen a player spot up at the free throw line with eight seconds left on the clock before kicking it out to his point guard 30 feet away from the basket?
I did, in BYU's game against San Diego State. You probably won't see that on the next level. That play just isn't symbolic of an NBA offense. It's more reminiscent of a CYO offense.
But do you know why Fredette has a chance at the next level? He immediately drilled that NBA three-pointer in his defender's face. If he drops to the Knicks, Fredette deserves a look.
Stats as of January 31: 19.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 46.9 FG percentage, 42.4 3FG percentage
I saw Jordan Hamilton play live when he dropped 28 points in 29 minutes against Pittsburgh in the 2K Sports Classic finals at Madison Square Garden. Pittsburgh was a better team against Texas on that night, but Hamilton did everything he could to keep his team in a game that ended up being a 68-66 Panthers win.
The 6'7" sophomore from Texas has natural scoring instincts and can knock down a three-pointer or take his man one on one to the hole for an easy two. Furthermore, Hamilton helps on the boards, accumulating six double-doubles so far this season.
Hamilton was projected to fall to the late teens earlier this season, but he's not falling out of the lottery if he continues this stretch. Furthermore, Texas is going to obtain much more national exposure now that it is ranked in the top five, so that can only help Hamilton's cause.
Still, Hamilton would be a great fit for the Knicks off the bench with his varied offensive arsenal.
Stats as of January 31: 15.1 PPG, 6.9 APG, 3.4 RPG, 45.3 FG percentage, 48.9 3FG percentage, 2.30 A/T
If you are in the "Toney Douglas must go and the Knicks need a backup point guard immediately" crowd, this player is your best bet.
Yes, the 6'3" Illinois senior isn't projected to go until somewhere around pick 30 and yes, he is coming off two miserable games against Ohio State and Indiana (11 points and nine turnovers combined), but he is running an offense for a future NCAA tournament team. The senior has four years experience at the Big Ten level and has solid size (6'3") to man the point guard position in the NBA.
I also saw McCamey live against Maryland. He knows how to run an offense and can create in transition as well, something that a Knicks point guard must know how to do. This would be a reach, but if Walsh really wants a point guard, McCamey wouldn't be a bad grab.
Marcus or Markieff Morris
Stats as of January 31: 16.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, .5 BPG, 59.9 FG percentage
Stats as of January 31: 13.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 57.2 FG percentage
Amar'e Stoudemire's best offensive ability down low, aside from being unstoppable in the paint, is his ability to spread the floor. The Morris twins from Kansas can do just that, and can shoot from beyond the arc too. The 6'9" junior Marcus Morris is the more polished prospect of the two, currently picked to go in the middle of the first round. The 6'10" Markieff Morris is one of the best rebounders in the nation, averaging almost nine rebounds a game in under 24 minutes of play.
Both players are good screeners too, so they can play a pick-and-pop game with Felton when Stoudemire is on the bench while providing solid defense down low.
Stats as of January 31: 11.8 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.8 RPG, 41.0 FG percentage, 43.1 3FG percentage, 1.00 A/T
Josh Selby is not playing up to his potential for Kansas. Why? He's making too many mistakes and is having trouble fitting in a system that revolves around the Morris twins. Selby's shooting is what makes him most deadly on the floor, but his assist-to-turnover ratio might actually prevent teams from taking him high should he come out this season.
If he drops to the Knicks, they should take him without thought (yes, some mock drafts are projecting Selby to fall as far as the teens right now, remarkably). He has too much talent to be passed up.
Ultimately, I see him improving as the season goes on, raising his draft stock, but if he's there, he can't be passed up.
Stats as of January 31: 20.5 PPG, 5.7 APG, 4.6 RPG, 48.1 FG percentage, 34.1 3FG percentage, 1.78 A/T
Smith's draft stock will probably rise in March as Duke advances through the NCAA Tournament, especially if Kyrie Irving is back in the mix.
Smith, a 6'2" senior, put up 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a 93-78 loss to St. John's yesterday. He plays in a high-paced Duke offense (top 20 in the nation) and could run with the Knicks. Furthermore, Smith can score in a multitude of ways and defend opposing point guards very well. His issue is convincing people that he can play shooting guard in the NBA.
Smith would probably be a better option controlling the ball than Toney Douglas, but there are many similarities to their games. If the Knicks just want more depth and think Smith can play shooting guard for a spell, they should consider him here.
Stats as of January 31: 17.0 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 55.0 FG percentage
The best part about Jordan Williams' game is that he is a boulder down low.
The worst part about Jordan Williams' game is that he is a boulder down low.
The 6'10", 260 pound Maryland sophomore is hard to move in the paint, but he hardly ever leaves that area. If the Knicks trade down, I could see them taking a look at Williams for defensive purposes (the highest projections have him going late in the first round). He certainly has the size to guard power forwards and can hang with centers too, but his offensive game needs much more polish and versatility to make it on the next level.
Still, he's very hard to deal with.
Reaching for the Sky
Jordan Hamilton, Josh Selby, Alec Burks.
Someone will take Selby based on his potential alone before the Knicks can take him, but he really should stick in school for one more year.
Hamilton will probably be gone by the end of the lottery, though if he slips just a little, the Knicks should grab him immediately. A 6'7" shooter who is lights out from distance? Sign me up.
Burks is an enigma. He's being drafted as high as seventh in some circles, but is falling to the Knicks in others. Even if he drops to the Knicks, I don't think he's the best fit anyway.
Reaching for Your Toes
Nolan Smith, Demetri McCamey, Markieff Morris, Jordan Williams.
Smith is a PG/SG tweener, like Toney Douglas. He has skills to play both positions, but doesn't fully fit either of them. The Knicks will probably not grab another combo guard.
McCamey has skills, but his performances in some Big Ten games this year are cause for alarm.
Jordan Williams isn't versatile enough to play in the Knicks' system, despite his rebounding prowess.
If both Morris twins are available and enter the draft, the Knicks will grab Marcus, since he has more polish to his game right now.
I'm worried about Fredette's ability to play in an offense that doesn't revolve around him 24/7, and whether he can run the point at an NBA level. Still, I don't care that he's 6'2"; he'll find ways to score in the NBA. He's much more than a jump shooter. I like his NBA prospects, just not with the Knicks.
Here's the problem: Faried plays down low in a 3-2 zone defense in the Ohio Valley Conference, so how will he transition to playing man in the NBA? That scares me. His nose for the ball won't dissipate in the NBA, he will rebound with authority. But even though Faried will give his best effort in the paint and on the boards, things that will greatly benefit the Knicks, his unpolished offensive game and lack of experience playing man against top competition will probably prevent him from being taken until late in the first round.
Marcus Morris. Kansas coach Bill Self called Morris the best all-around player he's coached at Kansas, and maybe ever. His pupil list is quite impressive, so the Knicks should take note. Sure, he's not a prototypical power forward, but the Knicks aren't a prototypical team. The Knicks love players that can spread the floor, and Morris can do that. Furthermore, his leadership during teammate Thomas Robinson's recent tragedies (he lost both his grandparents and his mother recently) is more than admirable.
Morris is a leader, a solid big man, the best player on a top five team and projected to go in the late teens to early 20's should he declare. Analysts rave about his polish, and he's a three year player on one of the best programs in the country. He'd immediately step in and offer productive time off the bench. Seems like the best fit to me.