NBA Draft 2011: Marcus Morris and 10 Prospects the New York Knicks Need To Scout
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A cavalcade of Knicks have tried to partner with Amar'e Stoudemire in the frontcourt down low this season. Only one has succeeded to some extent (Wilson Chandler), and he plays for Denver now.
Ronny Turiaf takes much defensive pressure off Stoudemire but isn't healthy enough to be a long-term option. Jared Jeffries scores 1.4 more points per game than you and I. Shelden Williams is in the same no-offense boat as Jeffries. Shawne Williams should never be asked to guard power forwards.
Even if the Knicks go after a center in free agency, we do know three things:
1. The Knicks' four-headed monster at power forward/center alongside Amar'e Stoudemire must be altered before next season.
2. If the NBA lockout occurs, free agency won't be starting on July 1.
3. The NBA draft will take place as scheduled on June 23.
Therefore, the Knicks should go after the best big man available in the draft, because it isn't guaranteed that Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert, etc. will be waiting for phone calls come July.
That being said, here are eight power forward/centers the Knicks should scout next season, along with two point guards they should also consider.
A Look Back
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I wrote an article about 10 players the Knicks should look at on January 31, and it's shocking how much changed in just over two months. Back then, the Knicks were still set to pick in the late teens. Of the 10 players I selected then, though, only five will make this list.
Jordan Hamilton publicly announced intentions to return to Texas. Josh Selby and Demetri McCamey won't be selected in the first round, most likely. Alec Burks isn't a good fit on the Knicks because Landry Fields is here to stay, and he assured himself of a lottery selection anyway if he declares. I don't think Nolan Smith would give anything to the Knicks that Toney Douglas isn't giving already.
Therefore, five still remain.
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Although I broached this topic in the first slide, let's delve into what the Knicks need a little bit deeper.
If you watched the 76ers-Knicks game last night, you saw the Knicks blow a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, only to be saved in the end by Toney Douglas' and Carmelo Anthony's three-point heroics. The Knicks blew that lead for three reasons, which perfectly encapsulate why the team needs help down low and at point guard more than anything.
1. The 76ers went small and played Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand at the same time. Young torched Stoudemire for 14 fourth-quarter points. When the Knicks were on offense, Brand didn't respect Turiaf, so he cheated down low and helped others on defense. This clogged the paint and partially forced the Knicks to play the dreaded "east-west" game, going sideline to sideline instead of going to the hoop.
2. Chauncey Billups left the game in the third quarter with a thigh injury, and Toney Douglas played point guard for the remainder of the game. At times when Douglas runs the show, the offense stagnates and plods, with one man holding onto the ball too much. This happened far too often in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks even commited two 24-second shot clock violations.
Knicks fans only wish that Jared Jeffries' length, Shelden Williams' muscle and girth, Shawne Williams' shooting and Ronny Turiaf's grit, motor and defensive acumen can be combined into one player, but Victor Frankenstein isn't walking through that door. The Knicks must find someone who can defend opposing big men and help spread the floor on offense with at least a mid-range jumper.
At point guard, there are enough options in 2012 via free agency that the Knicks can go after, most noticeably Chris Paul and Raymond Felton, ironically. The position will be a need after Billups' contract runs out in 2012 if Douglas continues to hold the infamous title of being the NBA's most inconsistent player. When he's on, Douglas is an All-Star who can score 30 and will the Knicks to a win by himself. When he's off, he's capable of a 1-of-9 shooting night with two points and four turnovers. Check this game log and be amazed.
10. Hofstra PG/SG Charles Jenkins (6'3", 220 Pounds)
22.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 2.16 A/T, 51.7 FG%, 82.4 FT%, 42.0 3FG%, 2.0 PF in 37.3 MPG
No. 52 overall, No. 43 in 2011 NBA draft to Golden State Warriors.
NBADraft.net Projection and Report
Non-existent. Jenkins is not on the 100-person big board or in their most recent mock draft.
Going against the grain and taking Jenkins over Nolan Smith, and perhaps even Shelvin Mack, should the Butler point guard declare for the draft.
Jenkins is the most offensively efficient player in America, according to Ken Pomeroy. Note that he only averaged two fouls per game and managed to dish 4.8 assists a night despite playing with only one other player who averaged more than eight PPG. He scored 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting against UNC.
Jenkins does not have first-round athleticism, but how can you ignore his ridiculous efficiency?
The Knicks' chances of drafting him are non-existent, unless his stock rises, the forwards and centers on the Knicks' radar get taken and he impresses at team workouts. I could see him acting as a better game manager than Douglas to spell Billups next season.
9. Maryland PF/C Jordan Williams (6'10", 260 Pounds)
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16.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.7 SPG, 53.8 FG%, 57.5 FT% in 32.5 MPG
No. 74 on Big Board. No. 55 in 2011 NBA draft to Los Angeles Lakers.
No. 35 on Big Board. No. 23 in 2011 NBA draft to Phoenix Suns.
Williams is this low despite being a double-double machine at an ACC school and possessing great size because he is still a bit undeveloped. He doesn't have a consistent mid-range jumper right now and his conditioning and body aren't NBA-ready.
Williams can certainly work on those things, as well as develop more of an offensive repertoire outside of the paint, in due time, but he's not ready to start in the NBA. If the Knicks get him, it'd be a reach, and Williams will come off the bench for at least a year or two. He also would not be a good fit in the Knicks' offensive system.
Still, you can't teach size, and Williams has size that may let him guard some NBA centers.
8. Florida State SF/PF Chris Singleton (6'9", 220 Pounds)
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13.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 43.4 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 36.8 3FG% in 29.1 MPG.
No. 23 on Big Board. No. 21 in 2011 NBA draft by Portland Trail Blazers.
No. 23 on Big Board, No. 22 in 2011 NBA draft by Denver Nuggets.
Combine Justin Harper's offense and Chris Singleton's defense and you'd have an incredible top-three NBA prospect. Alas, they are two different people.
Singleton is a lockdown defender on the wing and can defend power forwards. However, he is not a good outside shooter, so the Knicks would play short-handed if they ever played with a starting frontcourt of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Singleton and Amar'e Stoudemire, because Singleton's defender would be inclined to cheat and play help defense more on Stoudemire or Anthony.
Still, if the Knicks' first options are taken before pick No. 17 and Singleton is still there, it would behoove them to take a polished, wing defender who can stop another team's star cold.
Important to note, though: Singleton has not officially declared for the NBA draft.
7. BYU PG Jimmer Fredette (6'2", 195 Pounds)
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28.9 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.4 RPG, 0.0 BPG (seriously, he blocked one shot all season), 1.3 SPG, 45.2 FG%, 89.4 FT%, 39.6 3FG%, 1.22 A/T in 35.8 MPG.
No. 16 on Big Board. No. 16 in 2011 NBA draft to New York Knicks (mock draft compiled before Knicks moved to No. 17 pick last night).
No. 11 on Big Board. No. 11 in 2011 NBA draft to Golden State Warriors.
If the Naismith Player of the Year falls into the Knicks' lap at No. 17, they have to consider taking him. However, Fredette doesn't fit well on the Knicks now that they have two dominant scorers in Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to go along with the increased role of Douglas.
While I'm not too concerned with Fredette's three-point percentage falling below 40 percent this season, as he'd get plenty of open looks on the Knicks with Stoudemire and Anthony on the court, New York has a much more pressing need down low.
6. Real Madrid PF Nikola Mirotic (6'10", 210 Pounds)
For Real Madrid in Euroleague: 7.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 52.4 FG%, 84.6 FT%, 44.0 3FG% in 14.4 MPG.
No. 14 on Big Board, No. 14 in 2011 NBA draft to Houston Rockets.
No. 56 on Big Board, No. 34 in 2011 NBA draft to Washington Wizards
He has a similar game to Richmond PF Justin Harper, in that he's a 6'10" power forward with a great outside shot but lacks the physicality to bang down low in the NBA. Mirotic, who is only 20 years old, shot 6-of-13 in the Nike Hoop Summit for 14 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished three assists.
As Draft Express, who called Mirotic the Harrison Barnes of Europe, notes in the above report, though, he may not come over next season even if he is picked, and a large buyout may scare off NBA teams and he enjoys playing in Spain.
Still, Mirotic's potential is undeniable, and he could be a great fit off the bench for the Knicks next season even though he won't be able to defend NBA bigs yet, simply because of his incredible range.
5. Richmond PF Justin Harper (6'10", 225 Pounds)
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17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 53.4 FG%, 79.7 FT%, 44.8 3FG% in 31.8 MPG.
No. 30 on Big Board. No. 24 selection in 2011 NBA draft to Oklahoma City Thunder.
No. 50 on Big Board. No. 37 selection in 2011 NBA draft to Los Angeles Clippers.
If the Knicks want another Wilson Chandler clone on offense plus two inches, this might be their guy. Harper has excellent length, and his three-point shooting would make it a nightmare for post-oriented power forwards to guard him.
On the flip side, while Harper's length will help him defend power forwards, he doesn't have the muscle and weight to do so adequately. A year with an NBA strength and conditioning program might do the trick. He could provide great depth down low if the Knicks do have their free-agent radar set on a center.
Of note, Harper outplayed the Morris twins in the Richmond-Kansas Sweet 16 game. Harper had 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting with nine rebounds. The twins in total had 18 points on 6-of-18 shooting with 13 rebounds.
4. Georgia PF Trey Thompkins (6'9", 245 Pounds)
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16.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 48.1 FG%, 68.9 FT%, 31.1 3FG% in 31.2 MPG.
No. 35 on Big Board. No. 29 in 2011 NBA draft to New Jersey Nets.
No. 19 on Big Board. No. 16 in 2011 NBA draft to New York Knicks (mock draft compiled before Knicks officially moved to No. 17 pick last night).
A polished offensive player with size who can both post up and shoot a mid-to-long range jumper. There are some questions about dipped offensive numbers from last season, as well as athleticism, conditioning and an ability to defend quick power forwards.
Still, the Knicks need a low-post man who can shoot and has size. Thompkins fits that criteria. Even if he doesn't develop into an NBA starter, Thompkins can be a serviceable backup.
3. Morehead State PF Kenneth Faried (6'8", 225 Pounds)
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17.3 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 2.3 BPG, 1.9 SPG, 62.3 FG%, 57.7 FT% in 34.7 MPG.
No. 31 on Big Board, No. 25 in 2011 NBA draft to Chicago Bulls.
No. 25 on Big Board, No. 21 in 2011 NBA draft to Portland Trail Blazers.
Perhaps, I am swooned by Faried's flowing dreadlocks and the fact that he is a New Jersey native like myself, but even though he does not possess an outside jumper and played in the middle of a 2-3 zone in college, Faried could be great alongside Amar'e Stoudemire.
If Faried bulks up to 235-240, develops a couple offensive moves (in particular a 12-15-foot jumper) and picks up the nuances of man-to-man on the NBA level quickly, he could be an era changer for the Melamar'e Knicks.
Faried won't stretch the floor offensively, but he'll create second chances with his rebounding and raise hell down low and on the glass defensively. The Knicks have only two few rotation players with non-stop motors right now (Landry Fields and Ronny Turiaf), so another one would behoove this team greatly.
2. Kansas PF Markieff Morris (6'10", 245 Pounds)
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13.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 58.9 FG%, 67.3 FT%, 42.4 3FG% in 24.4 MPG
No. 20 on Big Board. No. 19 in 2011 NBA draft to Washington Wizards.
No. 15 on Big Board. No. 13 in 2011 NBA draft to Phoenix Suns.
The book on Markieff Morris is that he is the less polished of the two twins, but has more size, a better outside shot and is a better rebounder. Ultimately, the Knicks can't go wrong with either of them.
Markieff won't be asked to put his back to the basket in the Knicks' system and score down low. He will be asked to hang out and knock down some outside shots following a slash-and-kick, and he will be asked to crash the boards like a mad man and body up a solid big man on the other end. Morris will be able to do that just fine.
Morris is an efficient scorer and rebounder, and also does well in transition. What more can the Knicks ask for?
Neither Morris twin has declared for the draft yet, but they did meet with an agent.
1. Kansas PF Marcus Morris (6'9", 225 Pounds)
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17.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 57.0 FG%, 68.8 FT%, 34.2 3FG% in 28.3 MPG.
No. 15 on Big Board. No. 15 in 2011 NBA draft to Indiana Pacers.
No. 14 on Big Board, No. 12 in 2011 NBA draft to Utah Jazz.
Marcus Morris could step into the Knicks' lineup and playing alongside Amar'e Stoudemire next season. I'm that confident in his abilities. The Knicks miss Wilson Chandler's versatility more and more every day, specifically his ability to defend power forwards and shoot a three-pointer. How many players in this league can do both successfully? Morris can do both in the NBA and score in the post as well.
Defensively, Morris will be tasked with defending the opposing team's best low-post man, and while he doesn't have great length or size, Morris has enough of a motor to get the job done.
If Morris is there, this should be the Knicks' pick. His twin brother, Faried or Thompkins are great consolation prizes, though.