A Knicks Mock 2020 Draft: Killian Hayes Leads the Way
I've done more scouting for the 2020 NBA Draft than the five previous drafts combined. This class intrigues me. The lack of separation between the lottery prospects presented itself to me as a challenge: I wanted to find the things that separated this pool of prospects. After spending countless hours watching film, some of them even coming during school detention, I jumped at the opportunity to do a full piece on draft analysis. I simulated the draft lottery on tankathon.com and used its "Mock Draft" page to simulate picks made by teams that are not the Knicks.
The picks I was given in the simulation were picks 3, 27, and 38. I will be writing, for each pick, who I would draft and how they could fit into next year's rotation.
The Charlotte Hornets got the first pick in the draft, and took who I think is the best talent available in the class: LaMelo Ball. The Atlanta Hawks took Anthony Edwards with the second pick, which also goes along with how I rank this draft's talent.
This leaves me able to take, with the third pick, who I believe is the third best prospect. The Knicks' starting point guard in the first game of the 2021 season? Killian Hayes. The 18 year old guard for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany will be making his way to New York. At 6'5, 187 lbs, Hayes contributed averages of 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in under 24 minutes per game. Hayes has the potential to develop into a true 3-level scorer; his three-point shot is the level needing the most improvement. Hayes shot over 48% from the field in Ulm, but only 29.4% from behind the three-point line. He also had a 58.5 True Shooting Percentage, which is a great sign. I project Hayes, with good development, to be a starter in the NBA. With great development, which hopefully the Knicks will have once Leon Rose makes his hires, Hayes could be as valuable of an asset to the Knicks as last year's third overall pick, RJ Barrett.
Players such as Tyrese Haliburton, James Wiseman, and Deni Avdija were taken in the picks shortly after my first, and the three players taken before my pick at #27 were Jalen Smith, Vernon Carey Jr., and Tre Jones. I believe that in the lottery a team with a lack of talent, such as the Knicks, needs to take the best player available regardless of fit. With the third pick, I was able to do so and have it so that the player I took addressed a position of large need. Here in the tail-end of the first round, fit can be focused on slightly more.
RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and now Killian Hayes are the three biggest blocks on which I am building this team. The first two that were mentioned have both shown to benefit greatly from being surrounded by shooting. Killian can shoot efficiently but not from three-point land just yet. The best pick I could make here would be to select a wing player who can shoot the ball.
With that said, with the 27th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, I selected Saddiq Bey, from Villanova. Bey shot 5.6 three-pointers per game on average and made 2.5 of them, leaving him with a 45.1% success rate from behind the arc. He shot 47.7% from the floor on almost 12 attempts per game (averaging 16.1 points), and added 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists on average. Bey will be 21 years old at the time of the draft, but his ability to come in and add instant shooting previously only provided at the wing position by Marcus Morris would make it worth it for the Knicks to look at him. I'll share my thoughts on Bey's fit into the rotation along with those for my next selection.
Jahmi'us Ramsey, Precious Achiuwa, and Daniel Otoru were selected immediately after Bey. Jordan Nwora, Devon Dotson, and Joel Ayayi were taken with the three picks leading up to the Knicks' final selection at 38. My methodology for my next pick was the same as that for my previous: get shooting onto a team that desperately needs it.
This led me to select Isaiah Joe from Arkansas with the 38th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Joe will be 21 years old by the time of the draft and would bring incredible shooting to New York along with Saddiq Bey. Joe averaged 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists shooting 36.7% from the field and 34.2% from behind the arc. Now: 34.2% from 3 does not sound all that appealing at first; this is where context matters. Joe averaged over 10 three-point attempts per game, and with volume comes "inefficiency" problems. Spencer Pearlman did a great report on Joe here for the The Stepien. The shot charts are especially interesting to look at.
Drafting Bey and Joe would allow the Knicks to cash out on Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock, acquiring whatever assets they can in return. This would clear a path for Damyean Dotson, if given a new deal this summer, to get more minutes, as well as one for playing time for Bey and Joe. Barrett, Robinson, and Hayes will do best with shooting around them; having two good, potentially great, shooters on rookie deals can't hurt their development.
All in all, my draft brings a new young core member and two great young shooters to New York. If this is how the draft turned out in real life, I would consider it a massive success for the Knicks. It is incredibly unlikely that the team jumps from its spot at #6 in the "lottery race" to get the third overall pick, as shown by the chance of it happening being about 9%. It is hard to say what other lottery prospects I like because for me, it definitely depends on where exactly I'm drafting. Someone I think the Knicks should target if their pick ends up matching their position at #6 would be Deni Avdija, if available, or Tyrese Haliburton.