New York Knicks Are Popular Team Among NBA Draft Prospects


The New York Knicks may not have won many games during the 2014-2015 season, but that has not swayed NBA Draft prospects from talking highly about the organization, as two players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Emmanuel Mudiay, seem especially excited about the possibility of playing in the city that never sleeps.

The 2014-15 season was a rough one for the New York Knicks. It is hard to pinpoint any positives coming from it outside some developments from younger players, such as Langston Galloway, who was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. The biggest takeaway may be that the Knicks have an opportunity to add an impact player in the draft, something that hasn’t been common with the Knicks through the years despite some terrible records and missed the playoffs 10 of the past 14 seasons.

While convincing established players in free agency could be a tall task for the Knicks and president Phil Jackson, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of players in the 2015 NBA Draft class. The Knicks have already begun talking with players, gauging if they are worthwhile investments with what will be at worst a top-five pick. With that, they have come away with an idea of who will fit what they are looking for, and who may not fit their scheme. Two players that have not been bashful about their potential to play with the Knicks have been Kentucky freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns and 19-year old ‘international’ player Emmanuel Mudiay.

Towns, who grew up in New Jersey as a Knicks fan, has not been shy in sharing his feelings about potentially playing for his favorite team. On Tuesday, he went as far as to say it would be a dream come true to play for the organization.

In an interview with the New York Post, Towns offered this: “It would be an honor, not only as a player, but as a Knicks fan, to be able to play for that organization. It’s gonna be, I guess a childhood dream — rooting for the Knicks all this time, and the next thing you know, you hear an organization call your name to go out there and give it your best shot. I think it would be very cool, and really very honored and blessed to be able to play for them.”

The willingness and hopefulness of Towns to play for the Knicks is the type of attitude that they should be looking in for potential players. Not everyone is capable of handling the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and the media pressure of New York, but Towns sounds like of of the prospects ready and willing to take it head on.

At Kentucky, and in the pursuit of perfection this past season, Towns faced the toughest every team had each and every night, so he is seemingly prepared for the pressure that will come with the NBA. On the court he can help on both ends of the court, and in the middle the Knicks currently have a crater sized hole, so he would fill a huge need.

Jackson has mentioned previously that the Knicks are looking for more defensive-ready players, which would seemingly place Towns ahead of Duke center Jahlil Okafor. According to ESPN Insider Chad Ford, if the Knicks land the top pick, they favor Towns to Okafor because of his superior abilities on defense.

Towns wasn’t the only potential draft choice for the Knicks to speak highly of the organization, as Mudiay also had some praise. Mudiay said he would be happy to play with any team in the NBA, but he didn’t sound like he would be disappointed about ending up in the Big Apple with the Knicks.

“Getting drafted by the Knicks would definitely be a blessing,” Mudiay said earlier in the week while he signed autographs for fans at a Champs store in Manhattan. “It’s a great city. A city of basketball, ‘The Mecca.’ So it’s a great city to play for if I was lucky enough to get drafted over here. It’s a beautiful city, they love basketball.”

Apr 2, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonald’s All American West guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) shoots the ball against McDonald’s All American East center Myles Turner (35) during the second half at the United Center. The West defeats the East 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks would probably love to add Mudiay as much as he would love to play for them if that is how things shake out. If the Knicks are unable to get the top pick and Towns, there is a strong chance they could consider Mudiay, or fellow top point guard prospect D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State. Mudiay has been a player that the Knicks have kept their eye on and scouted extensively in his time in China.

Mudiay, who stands at 6-feet-5 inches and 200 pounds, fits right into the mold of what NBA point guards are turning into these days, following in the footsteps of players such as Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. He would fill a huge need that the Knicks have seemingly had since Walt Frazier left, as they always seem to be at a disadvantage at the point guard spot every night; landing Mudiay would surely change that.

Mudiay, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, played his high school basketball in Dallas and was set to play under former Knicks head coach Larry Brown at SMU. Instead, he ended up in China to play for a year professionally, which has made him somewhat of an unknown heading into the 2015 NBA Draft.

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What is not unknown is his basketball playing ability, as he showcased how talented he was even after battling an ankle injury, as he put up an impressive line of 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a semifinal game with Guangdong after getting injured just nine games into the season.

The reactions both players have to playing in New York is great to see, and both would greatly improve the Knicks next season right away. There is a good chance that at least one of them will be on the roster next season, as the Knicks seem set on Towns if they land the first pick, and if they do not it would not be surprising to see them take a young guard. We will have a better understanding of what the Knicks may do Tuesday night, when we find out where the Knicks and the rest of the NBA teams will be drafting after the NBA Lottery.

Next: Who is the best Knicks PG of all-time?

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