The Knicks’ past seasons have been beyond dreadful. With a new coach practically every season, a rookie getting shipped every two seasons, and signing heavy contracts for declining players and hopeful stars, the Knicks need sustainability and identity if they want their future to be on the opposite side of the win column.
Every single draft opens up a gold mine for the Knicks, and this year is the same. With a terrible outcome on the lottery, however, the Knicks can still make a huge impact. This year, we ended up with the eighth pick, the 27th, and 38th. Here is how we optimize the picks and roster.
With any of the picks of the draft, the Knicks should keep it as simple as possible. Second, they should not trade up if it means giving up the eighth. If they follow these two principles on draft night, it should be a huge win for us.
Although the draft may not be top-heavy, it is filled with sleepers and quality serviceable future starters including Desmond Bane projected at 19th, Isaiah Stewart on 26th, and even Tre Jones as an early second-round pick. Given that, there should be really zero incentive to trade up, and trading down for more assets may even be the solution. However, the Knicks are in dire need of top talent, and at the eighth pick, we know that Lamelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, and the like will be gone.
On the eighth, if available, Isaac Okoro should be the hands-down No. 1 option. A lot of the fanbase disagrees with what to do with the 8th pick as an asset, whether drafting a guy like Haliburton, Vassell, or even Kira Lewis might be more worth it. However, with Thibs as the head coach, Okoro can fit the system very well with his defensive tools and mindset.
Further, Okoro averaged 13 PPG, 4 RPG, 2 APG, and a block and steal a game. He has got a quick first step, and am amazing touch around the rim, and can very much be a Jimmy Butler/Igoudala type player. In the future, he is projected to be a top-notch defensive player who can contribute in any way he can on the offensive end. Finally, Okoro is just a massive force in the paint and can absorb contact if need be.
However, one of Okoro’s biggest holes is his shooting. He shot 27% from the 3pt line. Although he shot around 60% in 2pt%, a lot of it were easy layups/drives. When he plays on the offense, a lot of his shots are beneath the hoop, and he hesitates to expand to the mid-range and three-point range for good reason. In this sense, he can be a huge liability on the offensive end of the game. However, that can be immediately fixed through proper coaching and staff, as the Knicks FO has shown great strides in this past summer.
Movin’ On Up
On the 27th and 38th, however, we should trade up for the 14th pick in Kira Lewis Jr. Kira is one of the biggest dark-horses of the draft, but the stats do not show his entire game. Kira is not only fast, but he knows how to attack the space properly. A lot of his game reminds me of a young John Wall, and if developed properly, can be a shining star on the offensive side of the Knicks.
On 27th and 38th, the Knicks will likely not have room to develop and play both guys with quality minutes. This is what happened to Ignas, Kenny Wooten, and is currently occurring to Dotson, who deserves minutes more than any of the guys on the bench right now. Kira is also a hard and efficient worker.
He is a sophomore, who increased his PPG by 6 in one year, his SPG by 1, and his APG by 2. He has improved in almost every category possible, and that is a testament to his hard work ethic and developmental potential as a player that the Knicks need in their future point guard.
With this, the Knicks should come out of the draft with Auburn’s Okoro and Alabama’s Lewis.