Could Kira Lewis Jr. Solve The Knicks' Point Guard Troubles?
[Kira is the 12th prospect in the 2020 draft that I've done a breakdown on. You can read about Cole Anthony here, Deni Avdija here, Tyrese Haliburton here, Anthony Edwards here, RJ Hampton here, Killian Hayes here, Onyeka Okongwu here, Obi Toppin here, Devin Vassell here, LaMelo Ball here, or Tyrese Maxey here.]
Kira Lewis Jr. is a sophomore guard from the University of Alabama. In almost 38 minutes per game last season, Lewis averaged 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 45.9% shooting. At 6'3" and 165 pounds, the 19 year old point guard is speedy and likes to create shots for himself and for his teammates from all over the court.
In the pick and roll, Lewis likes to attack the paint a bit haphazardly, but excels at finding open teammates in drive and kick situations. He's also capable of using his physicality and ball handling ability to get to the rim quickly - but needs to improve his handle and accuracy when passing to initiate at an NBA level. When he does get to the rim, he's able to take a hit or two from an opposing defender but sometimes struggles to release a shot with the right touch. Fixing this, especially on close-range attempts that are off-balance, will help him do much more damage in the paint as a finisher.
Lewis isn't the worst at making the shots he is able to create for himself, but his general lack of ability to be a lead initiator in an NBA offense will require whatever team ends up drafting Kira to surround him with at least one other playmaker; the Knicks, and RJ Barrett, certainly serve as a potential fit. Lewis projects to me as a PG with a high motor that serves the "Kyle Lowry" or "Draymond Green" role: not the best player or scorer on the team, but the one that keeps everyone else on the court going at a high level.
As a shooter, Kira isn't quite there yet - but his free throw percentage (80.2%) and form indicate that it might just be a matter of time and repetitions before he has a consistent shot. Lewis definitely needs to work on shooting off of the dribble and developing a reliable floater as a means of scoring over larger centers despite his relatively small frame.
On defense, Lewis can hold his own against opposing point guards. His lack of height makes his "switchability" a concern, but he's an overall astute team defender and struggles mainly with individual defense because of his size and small frame - a few years of NBA experience, which come with time in the weight room, should help Lewis show some improvement on that end of the court. He seems to have a decent defensive IQ and simply just needs to bulk up before we can see how effective he can truly be.
Lewis is certainly not my favorite point guard in this year's draft, as I would rather select players such as LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, and Tyrese Haliburton before him. I'm not sure who I prefer between Kira and UNC guard Cole Anthony, but I am confident in having the other three over Lewis and Anthony. To land Lewis in the draft, the Knicks would definitely need to expend their lottery pick on him.
Without actually knowing where Lewis currently stands on team's draft boards, I would guess that teams view him anywhere from the 9th to 20th best player in the draft, and I would assume that he would get taken somewhere relatively in that range. If the Knicks fell from their current lottery standing of 6th, Lewis might be a legitimate option as the team looks to solve their woes at the point guard position.
If the Knicks wound up with Lewis on their roster this fall, I believe it could actually mean the end of their long-lasting PG problem. Lewis may not develop into a star NBA player, but I project him to have a multiyear career in the league - even if he doesn't start in every game he plays in. Lewis, Barrett, Robinson, Ntilikina, and Knox would not be the league's most talented or flashy group of young players, but I believe they could, with the right veterans around them, learn to play a clean style of winning basketball.
Landing Lewis in the draft would mean that the Knicks are likely upset with the results of this year's draft lottery - but it doesn't mean they have to be upset with whoever they draft. Kira Lewis Jr. would be a solid get for the team, as long as they are not utilizing one of the draft's top picks to select him.