How the Knicks Should Navigate the 2020 NBA Draft

Many rumors regarding the Knicks' strategy in the 2020 NBA Draft have circulated, but their actual potential approaches remain unknown; here's a guide that the Knicks can follow to succeed in this fall's draft.
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Here is a guide for Leon Rose and the Knicks' front office to follow if they want to successfully navigate the 2020 NBA Draft when it takes place this fall. The NBA Draft Lottery will not take place until August 20th, so I will include options for various groups of potential lottery results.

The Lottery Pick:

If the lottery pick ends up being one of the draft's first three selections...

The Knicks should select one of LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, or Anthony Edwards. These are the top three prospects in the draft that the Knicks should be looking to draft, so I would hope that the team would wind up with one of the three if their lottery pick were to be either the first, second, or third overall pick.

If the lottery selection ends up being between the 4th and 7th overall pick...

First, see if you can trade up. LaMelo Ball would be a great fit on this team next year in my opinion, and is the type of prospect I think could be a valuable trade piece in the pursuit of an established young star in a trade. If moving up to one of the draft's first selections for someone like Ball or Edwards has a price of something like this pick, the Mavericks' 2021 first round pick, and Kevin Knox - you should consider swinging for the top prospect. 

If a fair trade can't be struck, take a look at guys like Deni Avdija, Isaac Okoro, Kira Lewis Jr., and maybe even Aleksej Pokuševski if you're willing to commit to a long-term development plan. Select a player that would fit well in a variety of lineups, as maintaining flexibility is a key goal for this team's front office to keep in mind, and maybe even look to get one that would excel on a Thibodeau-coached squad. I would assume front office members like Assistant GM and Director of College Scouting Walt Perrin would have the best insight on these matters, and that his opinion is one that Leon Rose will take into serious consideration.

If the lottery pick falls to the 8-10 overall range...

Take a look at what already-established players you might be able to acquire from another team in exchange for this pick. If you're drafting a rookie in this range, they're generally unlikely to majorly contribute to a winning team in their first season in the NBA, and that is quite simply not conducive to the type of team that I believe Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau want to be in charge of next season. Perhaps someone like Chicago's Zach LaVine might be available for a fair price due to financial concerns and a lack of a long-term commitment; KnicksSI's own Jonathan Macri began to make the case for trading for a player like Boston's Marcus Smart here

If no established and talented players can be had via trade for a fair price that does not involve giving up too many of the team's draft assets, turn to the prospect pool. Devin Vassell, Killian Hayes (if he slides, which very well may be the case), Tyrese Maxey, Kira Lewis Jr. (if available), or even Onyeka Okongwu are all intriguing prospects who I believe project well in terms of fitting a role that can contribute to a winning team.

The Clippers' and Hornets' Picks:

The Knicks own what are currently the 27th and 39th picks in the NBA Draft. I believe that RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, the lottery pick or the young player acquired with it, and two more rookies might not all fit into a typical Tom Thibodeau rotation - which the team will be putting on the court next season - and that the Knicks should look to swing a trade here. If both picks can be combined to move up somewhere in the early 20s, a rookie that I believe is a lottery talent could potentially fall and be up for grabs - someone who would be able to fit into next year's rotation as a bench player at the worst. If a player like Florida State's Patrick Williams or TCU's Desmond Bane is available with that selection, I would select one of them without hesitation. 

If the two picks aren't enough to move up into the early 20s, attach another asset like Kevin Knox or future second round picks to these two picks and look to acquire a pick anywhere in the first round of the quite deep 2021 draft class - a great trade asset in the pursuit of a star player - or a young player looking for a change of scenery - perhaps Chicago's Lauri Markkanen might be of interest to the Knicks, who are reportedly searching for a wing player who can shoot. 

The Knicks should be looking to leave this year's draft with two "players" - one from the lottery or an established player and one from the early/mid 20s or a selection with value in another draft - who can contribute to a winning team as early as possible. Doing this will allow them to get good play out of their selections early on in their quest to win games, as well as bolster the value of these prospects in potential trades next summer as the team looks to capitalize on the opportunity of a young star requesting a trade. Following this guide would help them optimize their strategy for this year's draft, and have the team be as properly built as possible to succeed under Rose and Thibodeau.