The NBA Draft is upon us, and it's the only time of year that the smiles of fans of loosing franchises' return, that glimmer of championship hope sparkle in each eye. I happen to be a fan of the NY Knicks so even during the draft that doesn't really happen, but for some reason this year is different.
The Knicks have been so bad the only word I could use to describe them is atrocious, but using that word to describe the Knicks is insulting to the word atrocious. I have become accustomed to the Knicks not drafting wisely, honestly the last pick really worth mentioning was the great Patrick Ewing, but after that, much has been left to be desired. Sure some of them have panned out into decent players but only after escaping the darkness of Gotham. The others are no named unmemorable players you never heard of until the Knicks walked to the podium. Who did the Knicks draft three years ago? Oh he’s still playing in Greece…yea I’m sure that helps.
This year however I am very excited for the Knicks offseason, starting with the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Is it the blanketed hope of Phil Jackson? I’m not entirely sure. So far he managed to make the Knicks worse (how do you drop a bomb on a nuclear waste land?) and with the 4th pick wasn’t even successful at tanking. But I do see something that I have never seen before from the NY Knicks and that’s patience. Just maybe, maybe what Phil has done is akin to punching and kneading all the air out of a piece of clay before you get ready to sculpt your master piece. In what looks to be another horrific down year the Knicks have cap space and room to grow. Now we are actually in a position to rebuild. So with that here’s how I would want to rebuild:
If I had the keys to the city my number one strategy is to build around Carmelo with some talented veterans. You don’t spend $120 million on a guy and not make him your focal point. This draft is actually very talented, after a very lackluster talent pool in recent years. 2015 is kind of deep and because of that I would use actually drafting a player at No.4 as the last resort. To me unless D’Angelo Russell falls to 4, then whomever is selected between 4-13 increases your teams talent about the same. So my plan is to trade back with either Denver at No.7 or Phoenix at No.13. Denver has been rumored to want to hit the reset button and build through the draft while trying to unload Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried. If the Knicks could manage a package to trade the No.4 pick to Den. in return for the No.7 pick along with Lawson and Faried, that would instantaneously give Melo solid talent around him while giving the Knicks the freedom to select whoever the best talent is regardless of position that’s left at the seventh pick. Of course the Knicks would have to give up someone along with that exchange and I think the perfect person is Tim Hardaway Jr. He’s been receiving some interest from other teams and I don't think he has the full backing within the organization by not showcasing steady improvement. Hardaway is still a young and talented player and would be a solid piece for the Nuggets rebuilding, along with whomever is selected at No.4. A step back from that dream scenario is the Phoenix Suns who is reported wanting to trade Eric Bledsoe. He’s a solid guard with potential star ability and upside to be one of the games top at his position. Injury aside he has never been in the right place to showcase his true potential, after sitting behind Chris Paul and being lost in a talented carousel of point guards in Phoenix. Pair him with Melo and you have a very capable second option. While not as ideal as gaining two starters to put around Carmelo in a trade with Denver, Bledsoe is a young talent to start along Anthony and you get the No.13 draft pick.
With either of those two picks at No.7 or No.13 the person I want most to join the Knicks next season is Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. I just think he is the best fit for the team and a potential sleeper in this draft. He’s not a top 5 talent but is projected to go around No.10. As a 6’11 PF who can score and stretch the floor he’d be a great pairing with Carmelo. While he’s not great defensively he also isn't a liability which is something you have to keep in mind when pairing a big man to play alongside Anthony. Frank the Tank offers the Knicks flexibility, he played as a power forward in college however with the NBA's new “small ball” Kaminsky is more than capable of playing center. Put Melo at the 4 where he was when winning the NBA’s scoring title, and NY instantly becomes one of the games more formidable front courts. At No.7 or No.13 I believe this is the guy for the Knicks he’s perfect for the Triangle and can start immediately alongside any combination of Lawson, Faried or Bledsoe, Kaminsky, Melo.
Let’s say no trade scenario for the Knicks on draft day is possible (which is the most likely scenario) and the Knicks are on the clock at No.4 who do I pick? Under the assumption that Karl Anthony-Towns and Jahlil Okafor are picked at No.1 and No.2 at this point my guy to hope for is D’Angelo Russell. The media has been playing this young man up the past couple of weeks, and his stock is rising after all the workouts he’s gone on. He may not be there at No.4 but I researched a lot of mock drafts and most of them have him falling down to the Knicks. I’m hoping Russell’s refusal to skip his workout with the Sixers, works out in our favor. Crazier things have happened, I’m still crying over now NBA Champion Steph Curry who the Knicks wanted, who he wanted to play for NY, who was stolen the very pick before us, who I completely blame the Timberwolves for by picking two point guards in a row, but I digress. While I don't necessarily believe in the hype and my gut tells me as a huge college basketball fan that he didn't actually perform well on the big stage when the time came. One thing Russell can do and does very well is pass the rock. And that’s perfect when on the floor with Carmelo “the ball stops here” Anthony aka “Catch and Shoot” aka “offensive island” ok I can do that all day and I don't really believe he’s a bad passer, I’m just trolling. Anthony has shown he can pass the ball and two of his most successful seasons has been with true floor generals at point in Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd. D’Angelo is in that vein and since no one currently playing in the league not named Kobe (“the rock stops here” Bryant aka “Rim Assist” aka “beans don’t pass in the kitchen”…see all day) knows the triangle Russell doesn't really have a disadvantage but can truly score within the system. Plus his name is Russell and we see they are winning; Westbrook, Wilson..even Bill just seems like you can't go wrong with the name Russell.
In the event Russell isn’t there at No.4 then I am fairly lax on who to pick. Names like Justise Winslow, Emmanuel Mudiay, Willie Cauley-Stien and Kristaps Prozingis would be my target (in that order.) I put them in that order based on risk. The Knicks don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to drafting foreign players, and they all seem to always be compared to Dirk Nowitzki but I think some of it is just lazy analysis. However when you start getting compared to Dirk and Kevin Durant that’s when my ears perk up. Prozingis is the biggest risk in the draft but just may also have the biggest upside. Willie Cauley-Stien is a solid pick as well, the only thing that needs to be said about this kid is he is an elite defender and that's a perfect counter part to Anthony. The same can be said for Justise Winslow while adding some great athleticism from the swing position. However this pick would be purely a “we thought he was the best talent available' pick for the Knicks, with him at SF that position gets very crowded. The last name from the bunch is Emmanuel Mudiay. This guy seems to be scary good but with only playing 12 games in China know one really knows, and I certainly haven't watched him. A risky pick from that standpoint Mudiay looks to be the polar opposite to D’Angelo. Both great at what they do but both do very different things. Mudiay has elite size and strength at the point position and fits the mold of Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook. Either of these guys would be a solid pick with not much scrutiny but the problem at No.4 is two of the guys are going to be great the other two not so much. It would be rare that all four pan out to be day one game changers.
Thats’ my plan if I was in the green room tonight, but I’m not i’ll be on the couch live tweeting, so follow me on Twitter @KenWon22 and we can chat during the draft. Let me know what you think of my plan in the comments below and tell me who you would want the Knicks to select with the No.4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft?