By now most NBA fans have heard that Thursday’s draft is one of the worst we have seen in fifteen years. In some regards this is true, but it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, especially as it pertains to the New York Knicks and where they will be selecting.
If your definition of a bad draft is that there are no franchise players and very few all stars, then you would be correct in calling the 2013 NBA Draft horrible. What is interesting about this years draft is that despite the lack of elite talent, there are a ton of very good rotation players who will definitely contribute to the teams who select them. What makes this draft even more interesting from the Knicks perspective is two things: First, there is a lot of great value where they be selecting (24th overall). And second, the PG position, long rumored to be the Knicks target position, is without a doubt the deepest position in this years draft.
Of course there is a small possibility that the Knicks go against the grain (see Renaldo Balkman) and target a big on draft day. Although adding a big man to the Knicks front court would certainly fill a need, it just wouldn’t make a lot of sense when you consider the quality of player at the position as compared to the crop of PGs that should be available when the Knicks find themselves on the clock.
The final piece of this puzzle is North Texas SF Tony Mitchell. If the Knicks decide to go this way it will be a mistake in my opinion. If and when the Knicks do pick Mitchell, who they’re rumored to love, you will immediately be shown his highlights and be blown away by his athleticism – but dont let yourself be fooled. Mitchell may be very athletic, and look the part, but he simply cannot play basketball – at least not yet. Remember Stromile Swift?Yeah, we all loved him too. How about the aforementioned Renaldo Balkman? The point is we tend to fall in love with guys who have an “NBA body” or are supremely athletic, when 9 times out of 10 these type of guys just do not work out.
When evaluating the NBA Draft you really only need to ask one question – Can this guy play the game?
Let’s take a look at who can play the game and who’s destined for the D-League in our Knicks draft day targets.
Isaiah Canaan: According to someone who was in the room, Canaan had a strong workout with the Knicks earlier this month. The 6-foot senior from Murray State is a natural scorer with great range and an inclination to get to the basket. But he doesn’t fit the profile of the pass-first, shoot-second player the Knicks are said to covet, so New York might shy away from him on Thursday.
Nate Wolters: The South Dakota State product has good size (6-5) and projects as a solid shooter who can get to the rim. He also thrives in the pick and roll, which would make him a solid fit for what the Knicks like to do. The problem for Wolters, though, is on defense. Scouts say he has relatively slow feet, which could make him a liability on the perimeter. The last thing the Knicks need is a guard who lets his opponent get into the lane.
Lorenzo Brown: Brown’s size (6-5) and strong first step are intriguing. He will probably be available by the time the Knicks pick at 24. But the Knicks might be wary because Brown’s shot, according to some observers, isn’t NBA-ready. The North Carolina State junior also lacks strength, which would factor in to his ability to contribute right away.
Tony Mitchell: Almost every mock draft you’ll see has the Knicks taking 6-7 North Texas SF Tony Mitchell with the 24th pick. While Mitchell’s upside and athletisicm are obvious it’s the other parts of his game that scare me. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford many teams see Mitchell as the most obvious bust in this years draft class, making him a perfect fit for the Knicks.
Jamaal Franklin: As an alum of the Mountain West Conference I have had the opportunity to see Jamaal Franklin play several times. Each and everytime I came away impressed. Franklin is a 6-5 SG who is not great at any one thing, but is very good across the board. The big knock on Franklin, and what will ultimately prevent him from being picked in the teens, is his lack of a jump shot. If Franklin can develop a reliable jumper he may be the steal of this draft.
Gorgui Dieng: Dieng is a 6-11 big man who can play defense and pass the the ball surprisingly well for a man of his size. Where Dieng comes up short is on the offensive end, where he struggles to be a consistent performer. At 23 Dieng is also on the older end of the scale for an NBA rookie, leaving many scouts to believe that his game does not have much more room for development, although that is certainly open to debate. Seeing as the Knicks already have a center who can only play one end of the floor the Dieng pick is far from a no brainer, and something I really do not see happening.
Knicks Recent Draft History
2012: Kostas Papanikolaou (48)
2011: Iman Shumpert (17)
2010: Andre Rautins (38), Landry Fields (39)
2009: Jordan Hill (8)
2008: Danilo Galinari (6)
2007: Wilson Chandler (23)
2006: Renaldo Balkman (20), Mardy Collins (29)
F: Carmelo Anthony
C/F: Marcus Camby
C: Tyson Chandler
G: Raymond Felton
G: Jason Kidd
F: Steve Novak
F/G: Iman Shumpert
F/C: Amar’e Stoudemire
G/F: James White
F: Chris Copeland (restricted)
F: Kenyon Martin
G: Pablo Prigioni (restricted)
F: Quentin Richardson
G: J.R. Smith