Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton discuss what the Knicks can do with the fourth pick in the draft. Plus, the guys discuss fallout from the Isiah Thomas hiring and everything going on in the NBA Playoffs.
The top four teams in the NBA Draft have reached out to point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who is expected to begin individual team workouts in early June, sources told SNY.tv.
McDonald’s All American Emmanuel Mudiay has been contacted by the top four teams in the NBA Draft: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports.
The top two teams in the draft — the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers — have the option of drafting big men Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of Duke — but could opt to either trade their pick and move down, or select Mudiay or Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell in the top two, which could shake things up at the top.
Trying to figure out the Knicks’ draft board will be a challenge, but we did receive one clue already.
ESPN NBA Draft insider Chad Ford tweeted out the Knicks are big fans of Duke forward Justise Winslow.
With the No. 4 pick, the Knicks have been rumored as potential trading partners to get out of that position, perhaps to nab a veteran. They have also been mentioned in the same breath as Emmanuel Mudiay, largely considered the fourth-best option when the Knicks are on the clock assuming Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell are already off the board.
If Ford believes the Knicks are not sold on Mudiay, who opted to play overseas coming out of high school instead of in college, then perhaps he’s the most likely selection should the team stay put in the draft.
Per ESPN, Winslow interviewed with the Knicks during the draft combine in Chicago earlier this month and are expected to hold a private workout with him.
Given the needs up and down the Knicks’ roster, I’m not completely sold that adding depth at small forward should be the team’s top priority with the fourth overall selections.
Big men and guards should be the route New York takes next month in the draft, though drawing the No. 4 pick does greatly damper the team’s chances of landing the two prized centers — Okafor and Towns — at the top of the round.
Ohio State’s Russell is the top guard, but also a likely option for the Sixers picking ahead of the Knicks at No. 3. Given the top-three talents and the three teams on the clock first, the Knicks have limited options.
Winslow’s draft stock skyrocketed during the Blue Devils’ road to the 2015 NCAA Championship in March, and some believe the forward is being “overvalued” as a result. It happens quite often, naturally, and can work out either way.
Earlier this week, an argument was made why the Knicks should draft Winslow with the No. 4 pick. Among the arguments made are is natural raw talent, his potential in the triangle offense and his defensive prowess. All things considered, those should be welcomed attributes by whichever player the Knicks opt to draft.
Still, the Knicks should select a player not because of his potential but for the impact they can have in October when the season gets underway. When you pick fourth and you’re a team as disappointing as the Knicks were in 2014-15, you need to get it right and nab an impact player to reassure the reeling fan base. Drafting a player that may or may not pan out in three or four seasons would be yet another step in the wrong direction.
This makes sense. While the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell both have great potential, it’s unlikely either one is the type of game-changer that Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns stand to be for NBA teams. This draft is very deep, and as such, a talented and/or intriguing enough player is likely to be found anywhere throughout the lottery, let alone even in a bit later in the first round.
Breaking into the top five or so picks isn’t a make or break scenario for teams hoping to find a good player this summer.
With that in mind, there likely won’t be a marquee trade for New York to make come draft night.
Still, in the interest of exploring all options, Berman suggests some potential deals. The Knicks could trade their pick to the Nuggets for a package that includes Wilson Chandler and the number seven overall pick. Perhaps the Pacers would be interested in a swap of picks (they own eleventh overall) that also involves Ian Mahinmi heading to the Big Apple as well.
There’s no point in making a deal like that. There’s not much for the Knicks to gain, especially in the form of something (or someone) that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Players like Chandler and Mahinmi are talented ones, but role players, nonetheless. Neither one (or players similar to them, for that matter) boasts a certain special something that cannot be acquired via free agency and/or a smaller type of trade.
Such a deal would eat into the Knicks’ cap space for this summer before free agency truly even begins. Acquiring a player like that and making such a salary commitment would mean that New York believes the player in question is better than the other options they stand to explore in free agency. Alas, role players are but a dime a dozen.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Knicks are forced (or choose) to overpay for free agents. Nevertheless, let that be a decision they make later on. The team should control and dictate its own market as much as possible. Trading for a player like Chandler or Mahinmi would mean the Knicks are committing to a salary, let alone one that is arguably too rich, that another team dictated for them.
Moving down in the draft, just to acquire a role player or two in the process, isn’t worth it by any means, especially in the Knicks’ situation. With so much flexibility in free agency, they have the power to mold the team to their liking — that includes making smart decisions about who they pay, and what they pay them.
What’s more, the potential a player selected fourth overall likely boasts is much more valuable to a franchise than that of a veteran role player’s contributions.
Most mock drafts you can get ahold of will peg Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahil Okafor as the first two names off the board in next month’s NBA Draft.
But not so fast.
Even if the Timberwolves nab Anthony-Towns with the first overall selection, the Lakers are not 100 percent sold on taking the other big man, Okafor, at No. 2.
According to the New York Post, Lakers brass is not sold on the two center prospects and instead could be more intrigued by guards D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay.
The Knicks, who hold the fourth overall pick in the draft, have been projected to land one of those guards in mock drafts since the lottery order was sorted out earlier in the week.
The Knicks were the first team to be reportedly interested in trading out of the No. 4 spot once the lottery order was decided, but an unprecedented move by Los Angeles would most certainly alter the team’s plans.
The Knicks would have interest in Towns or Okafor, should they last down to the fourth pick, or perhaps open the door for Russell, the draft’s top guard, to land in New York.
Additionally, the Lakers suggesting they don’t have interest in the big men could signal that they’re interested in trading out of their current spot at No. 2. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they don’t have too much assets to be making draft-day deals to move up to get their top targets.
According to most NBA Draft experts, the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell rank as the top consolation prizes for teams falling just short of nabbing Jahlil Okafor and/or Karl-AnthonyTowns at number one and two overall, respectively.
This would obviously include the Knicks, who arguably have the most to gain with so much rebuilding to do.
Each guard is very talented, boasting very promising futures. But a point guard isn’t what the Knicks need. Of course, the draft is often about selecting the best overall talent. It’s not that New York has a floor general on board already — finding talent through the draft means building for the future, and Jose Calderon’s first campaign with the team was underwhelming anyway. It’s more so that the triangle offense doesn’t call for a point guard to be a centralized figure in the system.
If Russell falls to number four, a case could be made for them Knicks to select him because of his ability to play off the ball. But, alas, it’s much more likely to be Mudiay left at the top of the board when it comes time for the Knicks to make their pick. Mudiay shouldn’t be the player New York is targeting. The young gun is an explosive player around the rim and a dynamic scorer, but he clearly thrives with the ball in his hands. He’d serve much better in an offense that runs through him.
The Knicks already employ a player like that in Carmelo Anthony. The superstar can create his own offense better than most players in the NBA. When healthy, Anthony seemed to struggle this past season while adjusting to the triangle. The system is all about spreading the floor and moving the ball. Players are constantly on the run.
There’s only one basketball, and it may not be big enough for both Anthony and Mudiay (let alone, everyone else that stands to get touches in the offense).
Taking all of this into consideration, the Knicks should strongly consider drafting Justise Winslow. He may not be the best raw talent, but he arguably stands to have more success in the triangle than any other player in the draft. The swingman is agile, athletic, explosive, and plays with a boatload of energy. Able to move his feet very well, Winslow has the potential to guard up to three positions on the court. This makes him very versatile, all the while giving the Knicks the best chance to be creative with different lineups. While he doesn’t have the best jump shot, Winslow is a great slasher and knows how to make his way inside and get to the basket effectively.
Nevertheless, the fact that some of his biggest strengths are displayed when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands is a huge plus for a team like the Knicks.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s coming to the NBA fresh off an NCAA national championship. He’s a winner, which obviously plays into the culture Phil Jackson and Co. are trying to create.
Though Mudiay may have more talent, it’s up for debate whether or not the Knicks would be able to utilize such talent (or if it would seemingly go to waste) in the triangle. The system doesn’t allow for a traditional point guard to shine.
On the flip side, Winslow could contribute in a number of different ways. He has the opportunity to grow and develop his skills even further, all while making an immediate impact. This is the type of player New York should target in the draft.