Knicks' Top Targets at Pick No. 19 in 2021 NBA Draft

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 22, 2021

Knicks' Top Targets at Pick No. 19 in 2021 NBA Draft

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    One way or another, the New York Knicks will have a busy night at the 2021 NBA draft.

    Barring a pre-draft trade, they'll enter the talent grab with four picks at their disposal (Nos. 19, 21, 32 and 58). While it's hard to imagine them keeping and using all of the selections, they should add at least a couple of prospects to their young nucleus.

    If they stand pat at No. 19, the following three players should be on the radar.

Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    As they discovered during the playoffs, the Knicks need more playmakers around Julius Randle.

    Sharife Cooper might be up to the challenge.

    The 20-year-old is a natural lead guard. What he lacks in physical tools (6'1", 180 lbs), he more than makes up for with tremendous feel and better handles. He gets where he's trying to go, and he can throw every pass in the book.

    Cooper's size will make him a target on defense, and his outside shot needs work (22.8 percent). But he didn't just stumble into per-game contributions of 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 8.6 free-throw attempts. He's a talent.

Trey Murphy III, SF/PF, Virginia

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    Ethan Hyman/Associated Press

    Trey Murphy III was built to rise late in the pre-draft process, and that's exactly what he has done.

    During the season, the 21-year-old didn't have the flashy stats to draw attention to himself (11.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest). But now that scouts have had a better chance to study his skills, it's easy to see how he can succeed as an NBA role player.

    Murphy is a 6'9" combo forward who offers both long-range sniping and defensive versatility. Importantly, he has also already shown a willingness to stay within his role as evidenced by his impressive 50.3/43.3/92.7 shooting slash.

    The Knicks wouldn't get a ton of upside with this pick, but they should have someone they can use already next season.

Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    This past season, the Knicks won with defensive execution and boundless energy, a favored recipe for success of coach Tom Thibodeau. But they didn't do enough at the offensive end, where they finished 22nd in efficiency and only had two players average better than 15 points (Randle and RJ Barrett).

    Cameron Thomas could provide a scoring jolt.

    His bag features an endless array of dribble moves to ditch defenders, and he is confident launching from anywhere. The 19-year-old is fearless from three, accurate from mid-range and aggressive around the basket. When he moves off of the ball, he is smart with his movements and skilled in his footwork.

    Thomas' game doesn't really have other layers to it right now. He isn't the most creative or willing passer, and his defensive motor comes and goes. But the scoring punch is powerful, and there is potential for him to grow his game beyond the spark-plug role.