With the NBA draft on Thursday, the New York Knicks are still trying to figure out who they’ll take—a testament to the depth of this incoming class, and how hard it can be to project who will be available when they’re on the clock.
Parsing the tealeaves doesn’t gives us too much to work these days. The first eight picks can go in so many different directions. It’s impossible to know who will be left for the Knicks at No. 9. And from there, they have to decide whether they’re prioritizing need and possible fit (wings, basically) over who might be the best player available.
Some mocks have them taking Mikal Bridges if he’s available. Others have Trae Young slipping to them. The latest from ESPN.com’s Ian Begley, meanwhile, suggests the Knicks could roll the dice on one of two players typically projected to fall outside the top nine: Miami’s Lonnie Walker and Kentucky’s Kevin Knox.
Earlier this month it was clear that Miami’s Lonnie Walker had support among decision-makers in the Knicks’ front office. That remains the case today, a few days from the draft, per sources. The Knicks worked Walker out individually earlier this week. Opposing executives believe Walker and Kentucky’s Kevin Knox are among the players in the conversation for the Knicks, who pick ninth in the draft. Members of the organization were impressed by Knox’s workout and some were also impressed by Walker’s athleticism, defensive versatility and shot-making. Walker and Knox are probably among a bigger group of players being considered for the ninth pick. The Knicks also have workouts scheduled for next week that could impact their approach on Thursday.
Walker satisfies the wing bill for New York, but his fit alongside Tim Hardaway Jr. could be weird. He’s more of a ball-dominant attacker, and the Knicks also have Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay to consider. There’s a lot of overlap among those four.
Knox would be an interesting fit beside a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, as more of a combo forward. But the Knicks would need to firmly believe in his jumper. He shot 34 percent on 5.6 attempts per 40 minutes at Kentucky. Elevating that efficiency would be crucial to him playing major minutes at the 3.
Another name to watch: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, also from Kentucky. The Knicks have not been linked to him in an official capacity, but he looks like someone who can blend on-ball offense with off-ball offense and defend his butt off. That’d make for a great potential long-term partnership beside the equally long and versatile Frank Ntilikina.