With the Twenty-Third Pick the New York Knicks Select?
While we are still in the midst of playoff fever I wanted to post a position-by-position thumbnail sketch of the players Isiah Thomas is most likely to consider at #23. (Of course, as Thomas proved by selecting Renaldo Balkman last June anyone’s guess is as good as mine.) I’ll do something more substantial, time permitting, closer to the draft.
Thoughts: This is probably the draft?s thinnest position top to bottom. The Knicks seem unlikely to look for a PG. Yet you cannot rule out Thomas looking for the ?best player available.?
1. Mike Conley, Jr., Ohio St., Fr. ? if he stays he will be off the board by #23; considered the best pure point in the draft
2. Javaris Crittenton, Ga. Tech, Fr. ? he will likely return to school; compared to Steve Francis athletically, only he is more turnover prone
3. Acie Law, Texas A&M, Sr. ? combo guard was not especially efficient until his senior year
4. Gabe Pruitt, USC, Jr. ? likely a 2nd round pick, but his style is tailor-made to dazzle at the pre-draft camp’s glorified pick-up games
5. Mustafa Shakur, Arizona, Sr. ? ditto; Shakur is a pure point guard, totally unselfish, but prone to poor decision-making (his shot also needs to be completely reconstructed)
Thoughts: The deepest position in a draft is usually ?swingman? and this draft is no different. The best value at #23 will probably be here.
1. Arron Afflalo, UCLA, Jr. ? projects as primarily as a defensive specialist and rebounder; a capable though not outstanding scorer
2. Morris Almond ? big-time scorer that brings little else to the table
3. Derrick Byers, Vanderbilt ? a complete prospect; draft position may depend on whether he really is 6?7?
4. Rudy Fernandez, Spain ? combo guard stands roughly a foot taller than Nate Robinson yet is 8 lbs. lighter
5. Alando Tucker ? virtually the same skill set as Arron Afflalo
6. Nick Young, USC, Jr. ? increased efficiency each year at USC; plays NBA caliber defense
7. Marcus Williams, Arizona, So. ? a better defender and rebounder than usually given credit for, but didn?t improve as a sophomore; long player with high basketball IQ
8. Julian Wright, Kansas, So. ? a bit of a jack-of-all trades; very good passer and long-armed defender (very unlikely to drop to #23)
Thoughts: This position is also very deep, and has perhaps the draft?s most intriguing prospects from a Knicks perspective. It features a number of players that don?t necessarily need to score to be effective. I am listing the second tier power forwards most likely available at #23.
1. Jared Dudley, Boston College ? classic case of “do you focus on what he can do or cannot do?”; likely a 2nd rounder but a team could easily fall in love with him in workouts
2. Spencer Haws, Washington, Fr. ? super-hyped prep prospect with a pro-ready 18-foot shot, excellent passer; upside could be limited because he doesn?t jump out of the gym
3. Josh McRoberts, Duke, So. ? ditto; however McRoberts is a very underrated defender and rebounder as well as a gifted passer
4. Jason Smith, Colorado St., Jr. ? 7-foot shooter in the Brian Cook/Channing Frye mold
5. Tiago Splitter, Brazil ? has appeared in mock drafts seemingly forever; nbadraft.net compares him to P.J. Brown
6. Thaddeus Young, Ga. Tech., Fr. ? gifted lefty athlete with undeveloped skills; should stay in school but pre-draft camp might disguise his deficiencies
7. Sean Williams, Boston College, Jr. ? PERFECT fit for the Knicks; long-limbed shot-blocker with Camby?s shot-blocking instincts but a better developed body; unfortunately he?s a bona fide knucklehead, kicked off Al Skinner?s Boston College squad for repeated drug offenses (sigh); no sane executive should hand this kid first round money to piss away
Thoughts: As you are probably well aware the real value at this position is almost always at the top of the board.
1. Marc Gasol, Spain ? Pao?s younger brother is 270 with a well-developed post game
2. Aaron Gray ? he?s definitely a ?beauty is in the eye of the beholder? prospect; poor footwork but very good hands