NBA Draft 2020: Knicks, Warriors Landing Spots for Cole Anthony, Onyeka Okongwu

Martin FennContributor IIIMay 16, 2020

North Carolina guard Cole Anthony (2) walks off of the court following North Carolina's 81-53 loss to Syracuse in an NCAA college basketball game at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Ben McKeown/Associated Press

The New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors have been at opposite ends of the basketball spectrum over the course of the last decade.

The Knicks have not made the playoffs since 2013 and have undergone multiple leadership changes. Meanwhile, the Warriors won three championships and earned five consecutive NBA Finals berths from 2015 to 2019.

Yet both organizations will be picking near the top of the 2020 draft.

This was always going to be a rebuilding year for the Knicks after they failed to land a single marquee name in free agency. The Dubs had greater aspirations but were beset with injuries.

New York and Golden State will look to land a couple of impact players this summer. While the Knicks hope their top draft pick can become a future building block, the Warriors have an opportunity to add some young talent to a team that should reassert its contender status in the 2020-21 season.


Knicks Have Scouted Cole Anthony "Extensively"

Ben McKeown/Associated Press

Much of the noise surrounding the Knicks has centered around their pursuit of a new point guard.

Former first-round pick Frank Ntilikina made some strides in his third season and is a solid perimeter defender, but he still lacks the scoring ability most front offices look for in a modern point man. New York hoped it might get some of that scoring and playmaking from Dennis Smith Jr., but he has been a disappointment in the Big Apple.

The 2020 draft class is not the deepest from a talent perspective, but there are some intriguing guard prospects. LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton have size and athleticism, while French international Killian Hayes is also turning some heads. The Knicks appear to be doing their due diligence in evaluating these prospects.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported the Knicks have scouted North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony "extensively."

Anthony came to Chapel Hill as the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2019, according to ESPN. However, his freshman season was far more frustrating than most Tar Heels fans likely envisioned. 

Anthony missed 11 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee in December. Anthony returned in February, but the inconsistencies that plagued him at the start of the year persisted.

The New York City native finished the year averaging 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, but he also shot just 38.0 percent from the field and a somewhat underwhelming 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. Still, Anthony's upside makes him one of the most interesting players in this draft.

Anthony has excellent vision and tremendous athleticism, with the ability to get to the cup and finish through contact. He was trigger-happy at times, but he was also shouldering much of the burden for a North Carolina team that was less talented than expected.

Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams lauded Anthony's commitment during an interview with Evan Daniels of 247 Sports in March, and the Knicks might also feel returning home could galvanize Anthony.

Anthony would have to find a way to coexist with ball-dominant swingman RJ Barrett, who leaves much to be desired as a shooter. However, he possesses the explosive scoring and playmaking capabilities the Knicks have been lacking at the point guard spot.


Warriors Prefer Okongwu to Wiseman

Cliff Grassmick/Associated Press

While the Knicks might be looking to improve their backcourt, the Warriors could be in search of a frontcourt player.

The Dubs will get both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back healthy next year, and they acquired Andrew Wiggins in February to be the third scoring option at the small forward spot.

However, even during the dynasty years, the Warriors have lacked a staple down low. Guys like Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney were able to carve out roles as rim protectors, but they offered little in the way of offense. According to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, the Warriors previously showed interest in acquiring Anthony Davis, and the draft could be their chance to add an impact post player who can help the team win in the short term while also figuring into future plans.

Most mock drafts, including Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman's, have Memphis center James Wiseman as the top big man off the board. But Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Warriors are "higher" on Southern California center Onyeka Okongwu.

Whereas Wiseman's season hardly got off the ground thanks to his decision to leave Memphis after a 12-game NCAA suspension, Okongwu played in 28 of the Trojans' 31 games.

Okongwu cemented his status as one of the best bigs in the country. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals en route to being named first-team All-Pac-12.

John Hollinger of The Athletic compared Okongwu to Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, who made his first All-Star team in 2020. Hollinger said Okongwu does not have the same passing or playmaking abilities as Adebayo, but he is a better post scorer and projects well as a shooter.

Hollinger also noted Okongwu played in a USC system that often forced him to be a floor-spacer, which might make him the perfect fit in Golden State.

Given Okongwu's exposure to that offensive system, he could be the perfect complement to Golden State's guards as someone who can handle the ball on the perimeter while also posing as a scoring threat on the block.


All stats obtained via Sports Reference.