Knicks News: Who Experts Expect Team to Select with No. 8 Pick

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

Florida State guard Devin Vassell (24) dribbles up court against Florida during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)
Matt Stamey/Associated Press

Once again, the NBA draft lottery dealt the New York Knicks a rough hand. They went into Thursday with the sixth-best chance at landing the No. 1 pick and slid to the eighth slot.

Without March Madness to evaluate prospects in a hypercompetitive setting, teams further away from the top of the selection order must dig deep into the film on potential draft targets. Even so, front-office executives know their roster's needs and which players can fill those voids.

Knicks team president Leon Rose, general manager Scott Perry and head coach Tom Thibodeau should build around center Mitchell Robinson and wing RJ Barrett, adding another prolific scorer, preferably a shooter, at the 2 or 3.

Following the lottery, NBA and draft experts gave their opinions on the Knicks' potential targets. Three of the top analysts had different thoughts on the best pick at No. 8. Which player makes the most sense if available? Let's go through the prospects.


Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman: F Devin Vassell, Florida State

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

At 6'7", 194 pounds, Devin Vassell has the length to close on shooters, take the ball away while active in the passing lanes and challenge scorers from the 1 to 4 spots. He made significant strides as an offensive playmaker last season.

In his sophomore term, Vassell averaged 12.7 points on 41.5 percent shooting from three-point territory to go along with 1.4 steals and a block per outing. With more experience, he could continue to develop into a complete player on both ends of the court.

According to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, Vassell profiles as a prototypical two-way asset fit support to Barrett and Robinson.

"With a nucleus built around RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, New York could use shooting and perimeter defense, and Vassell has established himself as the draft's most desirable three-and-D wing," Wasserman wrote. 

Vassell can provide an immediate impact at the 3 or 4 with enticing offensive upside. Thibodeau would probably appreciate the Florida State product's defensive awareness as well.


ESPN's Jonathan Givony: G/F Isaac Okoro, Auburn

Michael Woods/Associated Press

With this selection, the Knicks would add NBA size and toughness on the wing. At 6'6", 225 pounds, Okoro locked in defensively against guards and forwards. Offensively, he'll do most of his damage inside the arc but needs to develop a comfortable range for a consistent three-point shot.

ESPN's Jonathan Givony views Okoro as a potential complement to Barrett if the Knicks use the latter as an initiator on offense.

"Okoro is considered by many to be the best perimeter defender in the draft. He has the toughness, unselfishness and versatility to play a role immediately on the wing. Should the Knicks elect to make RJ Barrett their primary ball-handler and playmaker, pairing him with a defensive wing such as Okoro to hound point guards could make for a tough backcourt."

At the pro level, Okoro probably translates to a 3 who can also play the 4. Because of Thibodeau's defensive background, he may favor the Auburn product. The Knicks would give up fewer easy buckets with him going against quality scorers. 

If New York sees upside in Okoro's scoring versatility, he's a reasonable pick at No. 8.


The Athletic's Sam Vecenie: F Obi Toppin, Dayton

Aaron Doster/Associated Press

The Knicks can become an exciting team to watch with Obi Toppin's flashy finishes at the rim and ability to step outside the paint in post-up sequences. On fast breaks, he and Robinson would have foot races for some easy buckets that energize the crowd.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic went into detail about how Robinson and Toppin would mesh in the frontcourt.

"In this scenario, they get lucky and find a good complement to Robinson. Whereas Robinson is one of the best rim-runners in the game and a monster in the dunker spot due to his ability to leap vertically and high-point the ball as well as offensive rebound, Toppin is arguably the most skilled offensive forward in this draft class. He's a terrific shooter, a good decision-maker who can really pass it, he finishes around the rim at an elite level, and has some shot-creation ability off the bounce."

If Toppin could play the 5 in a small-ball lineup, the Knicks can still attack the rim with Robinson resting on the bench. Together, they'll force centers and forwards to work hard on defense, covering the paint and the post.

With two years at the collegiate level, Toppin will come into the league with offensive polish. He's not a twitchy defender, but the 6'9", 220-pounder puts in an effort on that side of the court, averaging 1.2 blocks last year.


Statistics provided by Sports ReferenceFollow Bleacher Report writer Maurice Moton on Twitter @MoeMoton.