The New York Knicks are entering the NBA Draft with a lot of hope despite the abysmal 2018-2019 season they had. The rumors are flying that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are going to play their home games in Madison Square Garden next season. The Knicks have been at the center of these rumors before but the only time the Knicks have cashed in was all the way back in 2010 when they signed Amare Stoudemire. The Knicks cannot plan their draft having the mindset that Durant and Irving are coming to New York, they need to add talent because they have very little of it. Dennis Smith Jr. is a solid player, Kevin Knox showed some promise last year, and Mitchell Robinson looks to be one of the steals from the 2018 draft.
Thanks to the horrendous season the Knicks had, they cannot fall below the 5th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Who should the Knicks target at each slot if they were to land there in during Tuesday’s draft lottery?
First Pick – Zion Williamson, F, Duke
Zion Williamson is a franchise changing player who a lot of experts are comparing to a former New York Knicks forward, Larry Johnson. Williamson would slide right into the starting power forward position from day one for the Knicks and would be the focal point of their offense. It takes a specific type of person to be successful in New York, and Williamson is someone who can be successful there. Drafting Williamson also gives the Knicks the ammo to go after Anthony Davis in a trade. Williamson is the obvious choice at number one of the NBA Draft for the Knicks.
Second Pick – R.J. Barrett, G, Duke
If the Knicks fail to secure the first pick, R.J. Barrett is the pick at two. Barrett is a rare and special talent. For a ball dominant guard, Barrett has excellent size, athleticism, and court vision. Barrett and Dennis Smith Jr. are a poor pairing, however. The one weakness in Barrett’s game, shooting, is also Smith Jr.’s weakness. Both are also ball-dominant guards who thrive with the ball in their hands. Drafting Barrett would likely put Dennis Smith Jr. on the trade block. Drafting Barrett would also allow the Knicks to use him as the centerpiece of an Anthony Davis trade.
Third Pick – Ja Morant, G, Murray State
The fit with Dennis Smith Jr.is a bad one. The minute this pick is in, Smith Jr. will be on the trade block. When you’re drafting this high, you draft for talent, or you will find yourself drafting this high again. So why do the Knicks make this pick when Smith Jr. is one of their best players? Ja Morant is a better basketball player than Smith Jr. Morant is freakishly athletic and sees the floor better than any player in the draft. He showed in the NCAA Tournament that his jumper is solid also.
Fourth Pick – De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
De’Andre Hunter fits on any team in the league. He is an athletic freak who is always in the right position defensively. He showed throughout the year that he can go get a bucket when he needs to also. His game is very reminiscent to Kawhi Leonard, athletic specimens with excellent size on the wing, and great defenders. The question with Hunter is whether or not he will progress offensively as Leonard has done throughout his career.
Fifth Pick – Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
Rui Hachimura is a player who got better every year at Gonzaga. He’s a very athletic power forward who can comfortably step out to 18 feet and hit the jumper. He fits in very well with the Knicks roster as it’s currently constructed. Hachimura and Mitchell Robinson would provide an exciting, young frontcourt with a lot of potential.
Looking Past the NBA Draft
The Knicks obviously want to select first in the draft, not only to get Williamson but to have him sitting there as a trade chip in case they do get Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in free agency. New York’s front office has to be drooling at the thought of a big three of Irving, Durant, and Davis. They immediately go to the front of the pack in the East regardless of how they construct the roster past those three.
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