Jackie Powell's Knicks SI Mock Draft
While my colleagues at Knicks SI used Tankathon.com to simulate the actual draft itself, I used it simply to get my lottery result and the position of the rest of my picks. And spoiler alert, you won’t see LaMelo Ball here, and I’ll tell you why.
Before the simulation, I wanted to understand exactly what the Knicks need from their 2020 picks. New York has a copious amount of shooting guards and smaller wings. There are forwards (such as Kevin Knox and Julius Randle) who underperformed in 2019-20, and their performances from the perimeter especially have been uninspiring.
Their main missing pieces revolve around the perimeter. Ball moment, shooting and defense have all been so sparse around and beyond the arc. Teams who can space while also muscling in the paint efficiently have been indicative of success as of late in the NBA and WNBA.
The 8th Pick- An efficient on the court visionary
You’ve read that correctly. The simulator gave me the 8th pick, and while others would scream into the void, I accepted the pick with pride. Why, you may ask? New York needs a point guard who can direct traffic rather than entice it. While I disagree with Seth Greenberg’s assessment that has called him safe, we do concur however that Tyrese Haliburton has the opportunity to impact New York significantly if he is chosen.
If this team is one that ought to be built on the young and incredibly efficient Center Mitchell Robinson and the explosive RJ Barrett (who apparently I’ve previously underestimated), a facilitator with a consistent set-shot appears to be the best fit. This season, the Knicks are ranked at 27th in the league for both assist percentage, which is a bit over 55 and for 22.1 total assists per game. New York made a little over 45 percent of its 2-point field goals with an assist, which again leaves the Knicks vying for the fourth worst spot.
New York made over 87 percent of their three balls off a dish, ranking sixth league-wide. But, New York struggled drilling unassisted three balls, ranking fifth-worst and made only 12.8 per game. So what does all of that tell us?
A goal of the Knicks’ offense should be to run the pick and roll with the 7’0” Robinson. Barrett serves as the penetrator while Haliburton can create a more efficient perimeter shot than highly touted LaMelo Ball. The Iowa State sophomore hit over 60 percent of his shots and over 40 percent from three in his aggregated two season college career.
Ball’s height is preferred and he might have a prettier jump shot, but efficiency is why Haliburton would be the better choice. The Cardinal also is an active defender, and I don’t seem to be the only one who believes his effort as both an on and off the ball defender supersedes Ball. According to Rob Dauster of NBC Sports, Ball is “a lazy defender with a lacking work ethic.”
While the basketball IQ, willingness to lead and on court vision mirror each other, I prefer how Haliburton slides on transition. He runs the floor with a French flare; Marine Johannès would be awfully proud.
The 27th Pick- A Brooklyn big with range
Now back to the Knicks’ numbers from long, and just a forewarning, they aren’t pretty. The Knicks attempted 28.4 threes (29th overall), they made under 10 a game (30th) and have a total long ball percentage of 33.7, which leaves New York at fourth worst. Here’s the kicker: the Knicks’ true shooting percentage is a hair over 53 percent, the worst in the NBA.
Mitchell Robinson needs another compatriot in the pick and roll, someone who could work high-low if needed, and specifically a stretch four, a power forward with a special three point shooting ability.
In his career as a Minnesota Gopher, Daniel Oturu has shown he has that skillset. At 6’10” Oturu averaged shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc along with averaging a 20-11 double-double during his sophomore season. He’s not just all offense. His blocking ability (2.5 per game this season) would complement a healthy Kenny Wooten awfully nicely. Oh yeah, he’s also a New York native, which is always enticing to young prospects, the option of returning home.
The 38th Pick- A recovery speed for the ages
The Knicks’ defense was middle-of-the-road at best. Their total defensive rating of 112.4 wasn’t anything to celebrate. But their numbers in steals (7.6 per game, 15th in the league) and blocks (4.7- 18th), however, aren’t abysmal.
But the metric that shows New York’s true defensive colors are how successful opposing offenses fared against the Knicks from long, and they fared well. Opponents scored over 13 three balls per game (28th best league wide) and made those three-balls 38 percent of the time (29th overall) against the Knicks.
So who can ameliorate this problem? Matisse Thybulle! Oh wait, he’s actually on the 76ers, but Thybulle is the right idea. So why not this year’s Pac-12 defensive player in the year, Tyler Bey. At 6’7”, Bey’s seven foot wingspan has allowed him the ability to average around two blocks and two steals a game in his three year career at Colorado. What makes Bey incredibly effective on the defensive perimeter is his recovery speed and vision for passing lanes, which allows his help defense to function smoothly. Also, similar to Thybulle, he usually operates best when shots are created for him as he shot 52 percent from the field including 33 percent from beyond the arc during his junior season.
Fiz says a point guard and stretch four are essential
Now here’s what’s bizarre: my methodology aligned with David Fizdale, who you might remember once coached the Knicks. While on ESPN Radio, Fiz spoke at length about what should be paramount for the Knicks when selecting young talent in 2020.
He mentioned that Mitchell Robinson needs a point guard who can “fight over that pick-and-roll.”
Haliburton can. Check.
“The other piece to that puzzle is a 4-man who can really rope that 3,’’ Fizdale said. “Like I’ve always said, the key to player development is spacing. You want to see players look better on the court, spread the floor.”
That sounds like Oturu. Check.
(He didn’t mention perimeter defense, but those numbers speak for themselves.)
Can Fizdale predict the future, probably not. I wonder if he placed any bets on how many days he’d survive in New York. Well, that probably means my predictions are just as formidable as fairy dust, only to disintegrate into thin air. *Sigh* Will we see a Ball brother in New York, to my own dismay? Possibly.