In a draft that is light on elite talent, it could be argued that the New York Knicks will struggle to find an impact player with the 17th overall selection. Due to last season’s trade which brought Carmelo Anthony to New York, however, the Knicks are very short on depth at virtually every position.
Because of the Knicks’ relatively thin roster, whomever they select in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft will be expected to become a member of the team’s rotation and essentially contribute immediately.
The Knicks shouldn’t expect to get a superstar out of this draft, but there are certainly a number of prospects who should make for very important role players on a contending team. While the Knicks could stand to add fresh bodies to their roster in general, their best bet is to focus on picking up a true center and/or a perimeter defender.
Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense was mostly effective for the Knicks last season, but as was the case when D’Antoni coached in Phoenix, defense was a significant issue. On the interior, Amare Stoudemire was relied upon to be a defensive presence, but that simply isn’t his game, while Chauncey Billups and Carmelo failed to lock down the perimeter.
With the lack of depth in terms of true centers in this draft, there is no guarantee that the Knicks will be able to grab one deserving of the 17th pick. If that is the case, the Knicks could also afford to add a little more diversity to their offense in the form of an interior player who can draw double teams away from Stoudemire.
Although the Knicks’ mid-level exception will be their best friend in adding a significant role player to their already impressive core, whomever they take with the 17th pick could be a key piece to New York’s championship puzzle in the future.
Here are the top five prospects that would be perfect fits for the Knicks in the 2011 NBA Draft.