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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Draft Prospects, Part I

With draft night a little more than a week away I thought I?d take a fresh look at some of the players likely to be on Isiah Thomas? radar since posting this in early May. The Knicks, who have conducted pre-draft workouts in conjunction with the rival Nets, appear to have concluded them. Of course, additional workouts are possible, as today?s Post is reporting that the Knicks may be interested in DePaul’s uber-athletic small forward Wilson Chandler.

As one might expect of a team with only a late-first round selection none of the players New York worked out classifies as a collegiate or international superstar, though the list certainly includes some intriguing names. They include (in reverse chronological order): Aaron Gray (Pittsburgh), Herbert Hill (Providence), Jared Jordan (Marist), Marco Belinelli (Fortitudo Bologna, Italy), Daequan Cook (Ohio State), Nick Fazekas (Nevada), Artem Sabelin (Avtodor Saratov, Russia), Taurean Green (Florida), Trey Johnson (Jackson State), Dominic James (Marquette), Ron Lewis (Ohio State), DeVon Hardin (California), Marko Lekic (Vojvodina, Serbia), Jason Smith (Colorado State), Glen ?Big Baby? Davis (LSU), Josh McRoberts (Duke), Nick Young (USC), Stephane Lasme (UMass), Brandon Wallace (S. Carolina), Jamar Wilson (Albany), DeShaun Wood (Wright State), Derrick Byars (Vanderbilt), Sammy Mejia (DePaul), Demitris Nichols (Syracuse) and Curtis Sumpter (Villanova). Of those, Sabelin, Hardin, and James have reportedly withdrawn their names from draft consideration.

I’ll go position-by-position and highlight at most a handful of players who may be available when the Knicks select at #23. The players are listed in no particular order. Player stats come largely from draftexpress.net and team pages and links to player profiles are from nbadraft.net.

Point Guard

Whether you think PG is a position of dire need or a position that could simply use some depth the Knicks could not easily afford to pass over a down the road starter in this draft. Marbury is at the point in his career when he needs to play fewer minutes. Francis’ status with the team remains uncertain. Crawford’s offensive issues and recovery from injury leaves him ideally suited for a sixth man role. Collins remains such an awful shooter it overwhelms what he does well. And Robinson is a SG for all practical purposes.

1. Javaris Crittenton (6’5″, 194#, Ga. Tech)

Crittenton has a similar physical build as Steve Francis and draws favorable comparisons as a player. The comparison is strained for a number of reasons though not implausible. Crittenton is not the same kind of true shooter as Francis. He shot an “okay” 56%. He doesn’t have three point range (and to his credit doesn’t take an inordinate number) but he doesn’t get to the FT line much either (.39 FT/FGA). Crittenton is also a pedestrian decision-maker at this point (1.47 assist-to-turnover on almost 5 TOs/game). He’s clearly talented but far from a finished product. On the plus side the kid is built like a tank, has been widely described as unselfish, and is widely regarded as coachable.

2. Acie Law (6’3″, 195#, Texas A&M)

Law is a do-it-all scoring point, who is solid in every phase–an efficient scorer (60% TS) and a solid passer (1.92:1 assist-to-turnover on just over 3 TOs/game). He doesn’t take a lot of threes but shoots a good percentage. The knock on him is that he’s a slightly bigger Nate Robinson–a natural shooting guard miscast as a point guard because of less-than-ideal size.

3. Taurean Green (6′, 177#, Florida)

Green is a classic beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder type. He is not unlike Orlando’s Jameer Nelson, though not as accomplished a college scorer. The major question, given his size limitations, concerns how well his game translates to the NBA. His meal ticket is probably his shooting. He shot a fantastic 63% TS last season, shoots it well from three-point range (40+%) and also gets to the FT line a fair amount (.48 FT/FGA) for someone that took almost 60% of his shots from behind the arc. Green’s natural tendency is to push the ball and look for something easy before pulling it out and running the halfcourt sets. I like that in a guard. Still, he’s a fairly pedestrian passer, as his 1.37:1 assist-to-turnover ratio attests.

4. Gabe Pruitt (6’4″, 170#, USC)

Pruitt is a very athletic point guard who moved over from the SG for Tim Floyd after leading the Trojans in scoring as a freshman. His passing numbers look phenomenal (2.35:1 assist-to-turnover ratio) on only 2.2 TOs/game. A word of caution. Floyd’s offense features a high proportion of post-ups and isolation plays. So my inclination is to interpret those numbers as evidence of Pruitt’s penchant for NOT doing dumb things with the ball rather than evidence suggesting he is a “gifted” passer. I happen to love guards who don’t do dumb things with the ball, so that’s no knock on Pruitt. Pruitt’s also made himself into a good defender. One aspect of his game that does concern me however is what appears to be an overreliance on the three point shot (55% of his FGAs). Combine that with the fact that he doesn’t get to the FT line much and what you have is a decent-but-nothing-special shooter. Ultimately, I think Pruitt may be best on a team where he can backup both guard spots.

5. Aaron Brooks (5’11″, 160#, Oregon)

Brooks is an Eddie House-type shooter. He can put up points in bunches. He is quick enough to get his shot off despite his size. He is best suited to be a second or third guard. Although he is frequently compared to Earl Boykins because of his size he doesn’t quite have Boykins handle but is more athletic.

Up next: shooting guards and small forwards

19 comments on “Draft Prospects, Part I

  1. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    I’m not an expert on these players by far, but based on your analysis, and as far as PGs are concerned, I would go with Pruitt, Law, or Green in that order. Pruitt fits in because the Knicks have been awful with respect to turnovers and defense, two of his strengths. His outside game doesn’t scare me, because the Knicks have enough inside guys (Curry, Lee, Balkman, etc.) Meanwhile Law or Green could replace Nate Robinson, since the diminutive guard’s name appears in just about every trade rumor.

  2. Nick

    This kid Crittenton is a stud.

    Yes he’s raw, but I see his upside as a pass first version of Baron Davis. At 6’5 he’s versatile enough to play the 2 at least part time, and I love the fact that he’s already a very willing defender, though he needs to work on his fundamentals (in fairness, he’s only a freshman).

    Did anyone see his game vs. North Carolina last year?

    Crittenton had 7 assists in the first half (ended with a total of 11), before he even attempted a shot, and some of these assists were of the jaw dropping variety.

    If he’s available at 23, I think Isiah’s gonna have a hard time passing on him. He could be the steal of the draft.

  3. Bonk

    Petteri Koponen, the Finnish pg seems to be the developmental project with a huge upside that would shock the world

  4. daniel

    heard this, works salarycap wise and, well, context wise….

    Knicks send Jamal Crawford, Channing Frye, and David Lee to the Wizards. They send Quentin Richardson to the Lakers.

    Wizards send Gilbert Arenas to the Lakers.

    Lakers send Kobe Bryant to the Knicks…..

  5. daniel

    So….

    Knicks get Kobe Bryant

    Lakers get Gilbert Arenas Quentin Richardson

    Wizards get Channing Frye, David Lee, and Jamal Crawford

    (remember, Arenas is unhappy and will likely opt out next year)

  6. MattinDC

    Very interesting trade scenario involving the Wizards. But I dont think they would like to bring on two forwards when they already have Caron Butler (all star) and Jamison (Former all star but slightly old). Watching the Wizards play, their glaring weakness is a consistent center (Etan Thomas is a PF playing C) and a super scorer off the bench. Crawford would be that fit, but Frye is too soft and Lee is too small to address the Wizards needs.

  7. knick lover

    As much as i would love to get kobe we are much better off keeping those guys for another reasonable sing and trade.tradeing channing frye later on for another player or maybe for a sign and trade for Rashard Lewis, David Lee is they only complement to Eddy curry we have hes our best rebounder and he is going to be a special player no doubt. I think if we get lewis we have lewis,balkman,ricahrdson at the 3 spot and jefferies has to come of the bench at the 4 spot and defend his ass off which fills the gap at PF and if we are smart we will draft a big I hope we do. dont 4 get if Randolph Morris develops that would be huge. But i still dont know what to do about Francis i want him gone

  8. transcend

    i think the bulls can offer a better package than that. It’s going to be really hard for us to compete with their offer. And god knows the last thing i want to see is MJ back in a bulls uni…. it’s sad, as much as i really want kobe to dawn our jersey, i think we’re better off if he stays in la, cause if not, chances are he goes to the bulls.

  9. dave crockett

    I’m a fan of Pruitt’s. He went from a guy who really didn’t defend at all under Henry Bibby his freshman year to a pretty good defender under Tim Floyd. My comment about him not getting to the line was more or less to find something wrong.

    I like all the guys on this list. The only no doubt about it reach would be Aaron Brooks (and I think Brooks will play in the league). Crittenton has some upside but also has big-time bust potential. I really didn’t see him much until the tournament this year when they got waxed by UNLV and he turned the ball over like he was angry with it. Boy, I wish for his sake he’d stayed one more year at Tech. Unless he had eligibility issues, didn’t like his coach, or just didn’t want to compete with OJ Mayo next June I don’t see why he didn’t stay.

  10. Seth

    Isiah did say that he’s willing to take a guy we didn’t expect…so couldn’t Jared Jordan be in the running if we do take a point guard? From the sound of things, he might be the only one of these guys that’s a true PG.

  11. BrandonM

    I read an article about Jordan on ESPN.com and although he is not athletic, he is a “magician” with the basketball. But, I do not think we should draft him so early b/c he could be a smart player but could be completely out “Everythinged” on the court. But, we can not forget those guys like him who made it (Skiles, Scotty Brooks, Legler, Kerr) I think if he does not get drafted (if teams are scared of his lack of athletic ability), we should pick him up for the summer league, see who he does running the show, and sign him as a FA for this year by either letting him sit and learn or by putting him into the DLeague (which would mean we would have to dump some type of contract or two for one trades. Francis anyone? Oh, Thanks Cleveland). If we did that, we really would not lose much. He has been given comparisons of Stockton-esque player, but if he fails, it is not a big gamble. It would be a gamble if we drafted him at 23 though.

  12. Gabe

    2 things:

    1) I don’t think AL4 will be available that late in the draft.

    2) There’s 0 chance Isiah will take Josh McRoberts. I nearly fell out of my seat when he drafted David Lee. Other than Lee, when was the last time Isiah was interested in a white player?

  13. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, Jordan is an interesting case. I think he’s a reach at #23, but the Knicks do not have a second-rounder, and if Jordan manages to make it past the second round, he will be invited to camp by basically every team in the NBA, as there’s not a single team in the NBA that wouldn’t want to give a guy like Jordan a shot at their team.

    So I might take the shot with him.

  14. caleb

    I’m not crazy about any of them. Law and Crittenden will be gone, and none of the others will provide an immediate impact. Short-term, the next two years, I don’t think they’d be any better than the Knicks current point guards.By then, the Marbury and Francis deals will be up, anyway. Bottom line: I think we’ll have better chances to nab our point guard of the future.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind seeing us trade for a young veteran. I think Frye for Jarrett Jack would be a good swap – JJ plays smart, can shoot and plays very good D.

    More of a longshot, Dallas might listen to offers for Devin Harris – say, Frye plus this year’s draft pick. More likely Dallas tries to move Jason Terry, but either way they don’t seem thrilled with their double-headed point guard, and they might consider a 1 for 2 swap – they could really use an extra scorer.

    btw I saw Crittenden a lot, and while he may be worth it at 23, I don’t think he’s a super prospect. I missed the Carolina game (which put him on everyone’s radar) but in many others he just looked raw. He’s not much of a shooter, he’s not super-quick like Francis and his decisions with the ball are still erratic.

    btw, I respectfully differ with the description of Francis as a “true” shooter. His outside shot is below average; he’s been able to score mainly because he gets to the line as well as anyone not named Dwyane Wade (Though at Stevie’s age I expect that part of his game to fall off soon, and fast…)

  15. MattinDC

    Steve Francis trade was one of the worst decisions EVER…but I blame Larry Brown for that. I subscribe to the idea that Francis move was Larry’s way of de-legitamizing Zeke in a power play within the Knicks organization. Except for the fact that Dolan has a man crush on Isiah.

  16. dave crockett

    Caleb

    point of clarification: True shooter is a reference to the “True Shooting” stat that adjusts regular FG% for the effects of 3pt. shooting as well as getting to the free throw line. On that stat, Francis was one of NY’s as well as the league’s most efficient or “true” scores–even though his stroke isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world to look at.

  17. caleb

    Sorry, I didn’t read the article closely enough. It’s a pretty good description of JC… he is a creative passer, but neither fish nor fowl as a guard… and it’s too soon to tell if he will develop a more mature, efficient game. He’s a solid prospect but to my mind, the risk-reward ratio isn’t good enough for the lottery.

    Big picture, at #23 it will be hard to find anyone at any position who’s immediately better than the top 8 or 9 guys in our rotation – maybe one of the shooting guards. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I would either take a long-range, big-potential prospect, or try and trade multiple assets for a lottery pick or young, established vet.

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