NBA Draft 2011: 10 Players the New York Knicks Should Carefully Scout
However, they have no second-round pick at the moment. Unless the Knicks make some sort of trade or purchase, they’ll walk away June 23rd with just one new player. There has been no indication of additional transactions thus far.
It’s not the most talented of drafts, but the Knicks can definitely improve with a wise pick. Unless they are lucky again as they were with Landry Fields in 2010, it will likely take a few years for any of the guys within New York’s reach to make a considerable impact. That’s OK. The Knicks have not only short-term goals (go further in the playoffs next season, the Eastern Conference Finals is a good target) but also long-term ones.
Whoever is picked in this year’s draft may be a critical role player or every day starter come 2012 and 2013, when the Knicks will still have Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony…and possibly another high-ticket free agent as the Chris Paul rumors (already) suggest.
It would be great to have such a young, dynamic point guard in 2012, but for now the Knicks need a big man and a little shooter.
Here are five centers/power forwards and five shooting guards/small forwards from the 2011 draft class Donnie Walsh and the Knicks should be sizing up.
Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, 6’8” Forward-Center
A couple inches taller and Kenneth Faried would be the holy grail for the Knicks. As it is, even at 6’8”, he may be too talented to let slip by for someone bigger.
He’s more mature than many of the draftees, having completed all four years at Morehead State both in the classroom and on the hardwood.
He’s versatile and would be able to satisfactorily spell Stoudemire, Anthony, Turiaf and even Fields for short stints right off the bat. It’s his defense that makes this possible.
If you can’t score off the pine, then holding the opponent down defensively is just as good, until New York can get both scorers back out onto the floor. This would be the perfect role for Faried’s rookie campaign.
Faried is a rebounding monster, averaging 12.3 per game for his college career and 14.5 his senior year. He steals and blocks, too.
Don’t expect his last year’s 17.3 points per game to carry over from the Ohio Valley Conference into the NBA, though, as he faces competition that might shock him. He’s got a good hand that will serve him well though: He shoots 62 percent from the floor.
Faried is probably the biggest consensus pick for the Knicks on the web right now. Makes you wonder if that’s just because he will be available.
But if this next guy is still unclaimed by the Knicks’ turn, I might pass on Faried…
Markieff Morris, Kansas, 6’10’’ Forward-Center
He’s big and he’s faced stiff competition in college. Though Faried’s defensive numbers are better, Morris’ transition to the NBA would be no-doubt smoother.
The 6’10”, 245-pound center would be a perfect compliment to Amar’e Stoudemire. Both are strong finishers at the basket.
Morris can shoot too at just under 60 percent from the floor and 42 percent from three-point land. Mr. D’Antoni likes that.
Markieff lacks Amar’e’s agility and probably always will, but with STAT and Carmelo Anthony covering the whole court, Morris would do well just clogging up the middle.
But if both Faried and Morris are gone, which is possible, the Knicks might take…
Jordan Williams, Maryland, 6’10” Forward-Center
Outside of Kentucky’s Enes Kanter, who will go early, Jordan Williams is the biggest player on the board at 260 pounds.
He had a big sophomore season for the Terps in 2010-11, averaging nearly 17 points and 12 rebounds a game.
Williams does not have a good mid-range or outside shot and didn’t take a single three his two years at Maryland, but he is an excellent post-up player who can take it to the hoop or push it outside to shooters Stoudemire, Anthony, Billups or even Toney Douglas from behind the arc.
He’s terrible from the line, with a Shaquille O’Neal-like 56 percent free-throw percentage. The Knicks will need to work on that.
Williams has shown the dedication necessary to improve too, having recently lost 25 pounds and working on his conditioning in preparation for the draft.
Trey Thompkins, Georgia, 6’9” Power Forward
If the Knicks want a more agile big man, that’s where Georgia’s Trey Thompkins comes in.
Thompkins has good hands, feet and smarts. He knows how to restrict opponents’ movements, frees himself up and plays the pick-and-roll well.
He’s not a terrible defender and collects blocks but needs to work on rebounding.
Thompkins is not the best shooter either at 47 percent and will have some difficulty transitioning to Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense.
He might be worth a shot if the previous three big men are off the board.
Nikola Mirotic, Serbia, 6’10” Power Forward
Nikola Mirotic is a bit of an unknown to be drafted so high, but the Knicks might want to take a chance. D’Antoni is obviously comfortable with international players, and that would work both ways.
Mirotic has a solid jumper that compensates for his lack of inside game. He will need to practice hard in the paint if he is going add any value at the center position in undersized New York. He will also need to pick it up to handle the seven seconds or less offense.
What works for him, though, is he’s got good hands, is a good ball-handler and can get the ball out front on fast breaks (just not lead them).
Though a 6’10” power forward, Mirotic plays like a little man.
Jordan Hamilton, Texas, 6’7” Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Speaking of little men, if the Knicks decide to play the free agent or trade market for a big man instead, they’ll look in the draft for a shooting guard or small forward to shore up the two and three.
New York will be lucky if Jordan Hamilton falls to No. 17.
He shoots and scores from anywhere on the court and can play any position other than center. He averaged 18.6 points per game for the Longhorns last year, but could use some work on shot selection.
The adaptable, athletic Hamilton is a perfect fit for the Knick’s offense. He’s also an above average defender and rebounder, thanks in great part to his energy level.
Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, 6’8” Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Tyler Honeycutt—all 185 pounds of him—is one of the better defenders left by this point in the draft. He led the Pac-10 in blocks and blocks per game in 2010-11. He also ranked in the top 10 in rebounds and steals…
…and three-pointers. So, Honeycutt can play both sides of the ball well. He pitched in only about 13 points per game, which puts him on the low end of available SG/SFs. That will definitely have to come up if he is to contribute to Knicks’ playoff runs over the next few years.
Honeycutt’s a great passer and thrives on the fast break. He can take it to the rim, pull up for the open jumper, find the open man and even tip in the rebound if necessary.
Klay Thompson, Washington State, 6’6” Shooting Guard
Imagine another true shooter joining Stoudemire, Anthony and Billups. Klay Thompson averaged 21.6 points per game last year for the Cougars (almost 18 for his three-year college career).
Thompson has a style reminiscent of John Starks, though he’s not as intense. His attitude will appeal to the Knicks’ front office and New York fans.
He’s not a bad defender, posting respectable numbers in steals.
Thompson led the Pac-10 in three-pointers in 2010-11 and will dunk on you when you’re not looking, too.
Chris Singleton, Florida State, 6’9” Small Forward / Power Forward
Another possible Mike D'Antoni disciple, Chris Singleton can buy in to the quick Knicks offense—so long as he's not the one controlling the ball.
He can shoot the open jumper and slam it home as in the photo and averaged 13 points per game last year.
But Singleton's specialty is defense. He's pretty fierce and having him on the floor in the No. 2 will frighten opponents—especially if the Knicks manage to fill the middle with a 7'0" center at the same time.
He steals, rebounds and blocks. Not bad for the "shooting guard."
Singleton will have to work on that shooting, but, suddenly, the once-small Knicks, would be rather big. And with all the defensive wherewithal, I'm sure New York can make it work.
Nolan Smith, Duke, 6'3" Shooting Guard / Point Guard
Oh, why not. He'll be there, but the Knicks will take any of the other little men listed if they are still available, which is probably the case.
Nolan Smith is solid though, despite his downright un-NBA like 6'3" frame.
Remember John Starks? He was 6'3"
Nolan Smith is better.
To begin with, he's a Duke Basketball graduate, which is an invaluable intangible. You know he knows the game well.
And his numbers prove it. Smith is all over the court, scoring 20.6 points per game (leading the ACC) and handing out over five assists. He steals and rebounds too.
Conclusion: In Donnie Walsh We Trust
Knicks fans shouldn't lose sleep over the 2011 NBA draft.
Every one of these players and a few others not listed would be an instant improvement for the Knicks, filling obvious holes.
Donnie Walsh's only issue when the clock strikes 17 will be narrowing down to one the college baller who will help the team the most.
Of course, the draftee will be a rookie, but, like Landry Fields, most of these players will be ready on day one.
None are superstars, though, and there will be a learning curve. It's OK. The Knicks are not winning the Finals next year.
2012-13? Let's see what happens.