Given all the craziness surrounding the Knicks these days who the heck can say what Thomas has planned for the draft, if anything? The best bet?not to be mistaken for a good bet, mind you?is that the upcoming draft will constitute only a small part of the roster changes to take place this summer. The Knicks may stand pat with their two late first round picks (#20 and #29; no second round picks) and do some wheeling and dealing after the free agent period opens. Rumors also identify the Knicks as one of several teams looking to wheel and deal on draft night, packaging multiple picks in order to move up. Of course, the actual player personnel moves may prove the least interesting draft night story.
Mr. Orange, of selltheknicks.com, is planning a protest at Madison Square Garden, and is getting pretty good coverage of his efforts. Orange is hoping to embarrass the erstwhile Knick brass on national TV and perhaps motivate David Stern to take a visible mediation role between the feuding front office and estranged coach Larry Brown. Of course, by draft night Larry Brown may have moved from merely estranged to officially unemployed. The Knicks may be introducing Isiah Thomas, or in a rumor that has Gator Nation all abuzz, former Knick guard Billy Donovan as the new coach. [Update: As of 10:15am EDT Thursday ESPN is reporting that Larry Brown has been fired and replaced as head coach by Isiah Thomas.] So pull up a chair. Throw some popcorn in the microwave and check it out on June 28th (Wednesday) at 7pm EDT on ESPN. It should make for good TV. Oh yeah, the Knicks might also draft a couple players.
Assuming that Thomas keeps the picks, who are some of the players he might consider? In fairness the draft has been the one area of Isiah?s tenure that has been a qualified success. He has generally been faithful to a ?best player available? approach. That’s probably the best approach for finding value at 20 and 29. In recent years a number of serviceable players have been drafted there including Jameer Nelson (#20, Denver) and David Harrison (#29, Indiana) in 2004, Dahntay Jones (#20, Memphis) and Josh Howard (#29, Dallas) in 2003, Kareem Rush (#20, LA Lakers) in 2002, Brendon Haywood (#20, Cleveland) in 2001, Craig ?Speedy? Claxton (#20, Philadelphia) and Mark Madsen (#29, LA Lakers) in 2000.
Is another Josh Howard lurking in this year?s draft at the end of the first round? Here?s a position-by-position look at players likely to be available at 20 or 29 (in alphabetical order) with links to player profiles on NBAdraft.net.
Point Guards. The Knicks have a number of players on the roster who all play minutes at point guard (i.e., Marbury, Francis, Crawford, and Robinson). Nonetheless, this is a deep draft for point guards. A number of players may be available who could contribute, particularly if one of the current guards is moved.
- Mardy Collins (PG/SG/SF, Temple) ? reminds me a lot of Aaron McKie circa, 2000.
- Quincy Douby (PG/SG, Rutgers) ? everything I?ve read makes him sound like current Atlanta sharpshooter Saleem Stoudamire.
- Jordan Farmar (PG, UCLA) ? at 20 he?s very nice value; earlier than that he?s a gamble because he?s pretty good at everything not great at anything.
- Kyle Lowry (PG, Villanova) ? little guy who lacks Nate Robinson?s absurd athleticism but makes better decisions.
- Rajon Rondo (PG, Kentucky) ? likely would fit best on a team that does not need points from that position; plays NBA ready defense right now.
Shooting Guards. The shooting guard position is stocked with the likes of Q-Rich, Crawford, and whichever of the combo guards is not playing the point. The draft at this position is not especially deep, with likely only three SGs in the mix between 18 and 29.
- Maurice Ager (SG, Michigan State) ? like most Tom Izzo players, he’s athletic, competitive, and aggressive on defense.
- Ronnie Brewer (SG/SF, Arkansas) ? a do-it-all type who struggles with his perimeter shot; likely to be off the board by #20 but could slide depending on trades.
- Shannon Brown (SG, Michigan State) ? see Ager; they?re very similar players.
Small Forward. The Knicks situation at small forward is a bit unsettled. Jalen Rose remains the starter but in Isiah Thomas’ world his contract, in its final year, makes him a distinct trade possibility. Q-Rich is a natural small forward who has played out of position in New York at shooting guard. Qyntel Woods played quite well at times this season but has yet to be re-signed. David Lee has bounced back and forth between both forward spots. The draft appears to be a bit top-heavy at small forward; great talent at the top (e.g., Morrison, Carney, Gay, Roy) but drops off quite a bit afterwards.
- Hassan Adams (G/F, Arizona) ? Adams is a Ruben Patterson quality defender, but at 6?4? is undersized, and maturity is an issue; likely a 2nd rounder.
- Louis Amundson (SF, UNLV) ? a four year player at UNLV. An energy guy, like a shorter David Lee.
- Steve Novak (SF, Marquette) ? a Pat Garrity type stand-still shooter.
- P.J. Tucker (SF/PF, Texas) ? an undersized ?power? small forward, like George Lynch but with more offense.
- Shawne Williams (SF, Memphis) ? a talented but raw freshman from Memphis who is another do-it-all (on offense) type.
Power Forward/Center. The Knicks currently have a lot of bodies at PF and C, including prized youngsters Curry, Frye, Butler, and Lee, though none is much of a rebounder (save Butler and Lee) or shot blocker.
- Hilton Armstrong (PF/C, UConn) ? had a good senior year at UConn; could be a Stephen Hunter-like one year wonder.
- Josh Boone (PF/C, UConn) ? a shot blocker/rebounder, but lacks explosion and some question his motivation.
- Alexander Johnson (PF/C, Florida St.) ? undersized and turnover prone, but precisely the kind of explosive shot-blocker/rebounder Larry Brown drools for. So Thomas probably wants nothing to do with him.
- Saer Sene (C, Senegal) ? extremely long-limbed (7?8? wingspan!!), athletic but raw big man from Senegal; probably not an immediate contributor.