Knicks' Top Draft Needs Ahead of 2021-22 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2021

Knicks' Top Draft Needs Ahead of 2021-22 NBA Season

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    Wendell Cruz/Associated Press

    The New York Knicks' success during the 2020-21 NBA season means their offseason will be different.

    Case in point: This summer isn't all about winning big at the draft.

    That's one of the offseason goals, obviously, but the talent grab no longer has to serve as Knicks fans' lone reason for hope. There are legitimately good things happening with this franchise, and a productive draft night should merely add to them.

    Targeting the following three areas could help keep this club's momentum going.

Point Guard

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    New York's point guard problems need to be a thing of the past. The Knicks have too many resources—in addition to four draft picks, they have roughly $50 million in cap space—not to figure out this position.

    The spot isn't in the worst shape it's been in recent years, as Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley both played pivotal roles in the Knicks' playoff push. But Rose is a 32-year-old free agent (with a frightening injury history, no less), and Quickley is more of a combo guard.

    New York must try to find a floor general. There should be several possibilities within its draft range.

    Auburn's Sharife Cooper might be the best passer in the draft. Australian Josh Giddey offers an interesting mix of size (6'8") and table-setting. Florida's Tre Mann can create for himself and his teammates. Baylor's Jared Butler has plug-and-play potential and a defensive disposition that coach Tom Thibodeau can appreciate.

    The Knicks have options and need to explore them.


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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    It's hard to win the modern NBA without shooting. New York needs more of it.

    Nine teams averaged fewer threes than the Knicks this season. All but three of them had losing records.

    This shooting shortage could worsen without activity from the front office. Three players averaged at least two triples for New York. Two are free agents now (Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks), and the other entered 2020-21 with a career 29.5 three-point percentage (Julius Randle).

    Gonzaga's Corey Kispert would be a dream get, boasting a lights-out stroke but also some inside-the-arc scoring and non-disastrous defense. But the Knicks probably can't get him without trading up, which could make Oregon's Chris Duarte or Virginia's Trey Murphy III the best available snipers.


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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    If you ran a poll on who the next Knicks' superstar would be, you might hear a dozen different answers. The fact there isn't a consensus shows New York doesn't have anyone guaranteed to be on that track.

    The logical question, of course, is how does a franchise find a superstar with the 19th overall pick? The answer is that in nine out of 10 drafts, they don't.

    But the Knicks have enough draft capital to chase a risk-reward option with a sky-high ceiling. They could totally whiff on the pick and still walk away with a worthwhile draft night. And if they happen to hit on the right prospect—John Collins, Tobias Harris and Zach Randolph were taken 19th overall—that could elevate their entire core.

    Three prospects might be worth the risk at No. 19: Stanford's Ziaire Williams, Arizona State's Josh Christopher and Texas' Greg Brown. Williams has towering two-way potential with enviable size, athleticism and flashes of skill. Christopher hints at a three-level scoring package with explosive burst to boot. Brown is an electric athlete who could shine at both ends under the right coaching staff.

    It's possible none of the three pans out, but if the Knicks guess right with this group, the return on investment could be enormous.