Championship Teams Draft Well, the Knicks Tend to Draft Poorly or Not at All

Many title-winning teams have featured acquired players, even as centerpieces, but they are always augmented by drafted talent. Always. There are no exceptions. This year’s Knicks will not feature a drafted player as a foundation piece, with the closest being last year’s first-rounder, Iman Shumpert. This is important if you’re talking championships, because no team in the modern NBA (since the implementation of the shot clock) has won a championship without a player it drafted as one of its top three scorers.

Bradford Doolittle, Basketball Prospectus

Brian DiMenna

I found this kind of stunning, definitely sobering and a little upsetting.

I can’t decide if this is some kind of weird coincidence or a really damning observation about the Knicks’ roster construction. This certainly helps explain my own difficulty in really embracing this team at times. It is always nice to have  some home-grown talent, guys that belong to your franchise and no one else’s, and so in that way,  it’s almost encouraging to know that few fan bases have ever found themselves in this peculiar position.

Looking back, it always felt like Isiah Thomas got almost too much credit as a drafter (in those rare moments when anyone was giving Isiah any credit at all), but though David Lee and Wilson Chandler were nice finds, this is the same guy who took Channing Frye right in front of Andrew Bynum and Renaldo Balkman directly in front of Rajon Rondo in consecutive drafts. A Rondo/Bynum core would probably be kind of entertaining at the moment, but such is life. Why life is such, who can say?

But it’s hard to say how much a nugget like this really matters. I mean, it would seem that for any team to win a championship it just needs a lot of really good players, no matter how you happen to acquire them. It feels weird to think that if you had good players but didn’t draft them, somehow it doesn’t count?

And yet, hindsight being 20/20 and all, it might have been a good idea to not start every trade negotiation over the years with, “Can we offer you a first-round pick?” Turns out that you tend to need those.

UPDATE: Feel like I should have noted, since we’re talking about the draft, that the Knicks did use two solid first-round picks in Gallinari and Chandler to get, you know, Melo. So, there is that. 

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