Knicks 2007 Summer Roster

Random Summer League Thoughts:

* 6 Europeans! Well not really. Most are American born that are playing overseas. The exceptions are 30 year old center Bougaieff who is French Canadian and guard Ali Berdiel from the Puerto Rican National team. Even the most mundane player has an impressive youtube mix, but is this the best they can come up with for Bougaieff? Meanwhile Berdiel seems to have lost his starting job at Valpariso to Jarryd Loyd 2 games before the season ended. Berdiel’s biggest weakness is his propensity to turn the ball over.

* Olu Famutimi is the only NBDL guy. He’s a shooting guard with no three point range. According to a few reports, Famutimi is a physcially gifted athlete, and the numbers seem to bear it out. He rebounds well, can pick a few pockets, and averages about a 1 block every 40 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see what he’s like on the court.

* Does anyone think Nate Robinson has something to do with the inclusion of former Husky teammate Tre Simmons?

* If the starting 5 is based on who is under contract/draft position then it should be Collins, Nate, Balkman, Chandler, and Morris with Nichols as the 6th man. However the roster is thin on big men. There are 7 guards on the team, and that doesn’t include Nichols and Greene who are listed as G-F. Which means that the lineup might be Collins, Nate, Nichols, Balkman, and Morris with Chandler coming off the bench. It’s not a bad idea, since the Knicks are more likely to need Nichols this year than Chandler given their need for outside shooting and their depth at the forward spot.

* The Knicks have 6 guys on their summer roster that will make their NBA team next year. Although they had 5 last year, Frye exited early with an injury. Additionally Collins, Nate, and Balkman all have had substantial NBA time under their collective belts. So we should expect to see some wins this summer.

* Things I’ll be looking for:
1. Chandler – how does he fit in? When he & Balkman are on the court at the same time, who will take the bigger player? (Both players are listed as 6-8.) How is his jumper?

2. Nichols – Is he athletic enough to play at the next level? Can he score on his own? Is he a liability on defense?

3. Morris – Has he bulked up? Is he a turnover machine? Can he still block shots and rebound at this level? What methods does he use to score?

4. Collins – Can he shoot? From 3?

5. Balkman – Can he shoot? Any post up moves?

6. Robinson – Can he act his age?

No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College 2006-07 Team Yrs
32 Renaldo Balkman F 6’8 208 Jul. 14, 1984 South Carolina New York (NBA) 1
38 Ali Berdiel G 6’6 200 Dec. 27, 1983 Valparaiso Hainaut (Belgium) R
45 Alex Bougaieff C 6’11 235 Apr. 15, 1977 Rice SPO Rouen (France) R
25 Mardy Collins G 6’6 220 Aug. 4, 1984 Temple New York (NBA) 1
21 Wilson Chandler F 6’8 230 10-May-87 DePaul DePaul (NCAA) R
9 Brian Greene G/F 6’7 225 Aug. 30, 1981 Colorado State Villeurbanne (France) R
30 Olu Famutimi G 6’4 207 Feb. 21, 1984 Arkansas Arkansas (NBADL) R
5 Randolph Morris C/F 6’11 260 Jan. 2, 1986 Kentucky New York (NBA) 1
35 Demetris Nichols G/F 6’8 216 Sep. 4, 1984 Syracuse DePaul (NCAA) R
44 Dylan Page F 6’9 240 Mar. 28, 1982 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Drac Inca (Spain) R
4 Nate Robinson G 5’9 180 31-May-84 Washington New York (NBA) 2
17 Tre Simmons G 6’5 200 Jul. 24, 1982 Washington Gran Canaria (ULEB) R
6 Kelvin Torbert G 6’4 210 5-May-83 Michigan State Euphony (Belgium) R
8 Roderick Wilmont G 6’4 203 Jul. 28, 1983 Indiana Indiana (NCAA) R

Draft Prospects, Part III

If you missed Parts I & II highlighting PGs and SGs/SFs respectively who may be on the Knicks? radar screen during this upcoming draft click here for Part I and here for Part II.

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 and profiles come largely from draftexpress.net and nbadraft.net.

The Knicks got very good offensive production from their power players this season. The tandem of Eddy Curry and David Lee were both in the top 15 in true shooting %, one of only three such tandems in the league (Nash/Stoudemire and Dampier/Nowitzki were the others). Curry managed to keep himself on the court long enough to shoot his customarily high percentage while David Lee emerged as one of the league’s elite rebounders. Unfortunately, Channing Frye’s dramatic sophomore slump and Lee’s late-season injury threw a sizable monkey-wrench into the development of one of the league’s best young power threesomes. Lee’s and Frye’s names have been connected to potential blockbuster trades (read: pipedreams) for Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant. Given the low likelihood of acquiring either superstar and with the addition of free agent Randolph Morris from Kentucky the Knicks seem stocked at power forward and center. Many of the players profiled here are considered late-first or second round picks. So it seems likely that the Knicks would only be interested in a few (if any) of these players at #23. Yet we all know how quickly things can change in the NBA. The Knicks could potentially move down or pick a player at #23 for another team and trade for one of these players.

Power Forwards

1. Josh McRoberts (6’10”, 244#, Duke)

If you can get past the fact that McRoberts didn’t quite live up to outsized expectations at Duke it is easy to like his floor game. McRoberts strikes me as a Jason Collins-type defender with more athleticism. He averaged 2.8 blocks per 40 and he did it without fouling excessively (averaging .99 blocks/foul). He blocks shots in man-to-man and on weakside rotation with good positioning and nice timing. He’s also an excellent passer from the PF position. He averaged just under 4 assists per 40 (tops among PFs) with a 1.43:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. (Keep in mind that none of his Duke teammates look like bona fide NBA prospects.) McRoberts is not a great rebounder, though not necessarily a liability in that area (9 per 40) either. He’s really not much of a scorer, just under 15 ppg on 56% TS. He doesn’t get to the line much and doesn’t shoot threes. But, if he can find his way onto a team that needs his floor game he can contribute right away.

2. Nick Fazekas (6’11”, 225#, Nevada)

If you’re looking for a perimeter-oriented big man Fazekas is the prime candidate (along with Colorado State’s Jason Smith). His calling card is his shooting, though I’ll note that Fazekas is a better rebounder than he’s typically credited for being (14.5 boards per 40, a hair under 29% of his team’s rebounds). He has those Ilgauskas-like long arms. As I mentioned, he is renowned for his shooting, especially the pick and pop. He’s a 65% true shooter but he does it almost exclusively from the perimeter (only .35 FT/FG). To his credit he’s not careless with the ball despite not being an especially good ball-handler, averaging around 2 TOs/game throughout his career. He is adept at the pick and pop, catch and shoot game. He may slide to the 2nd round mostly because he’s been on scouts’ radars long enough to have his game completely picked apart.

3. Jermareo Davidson (6’11”, 230#, Alabama)

Davidson is a Camby-lite shot-blocker and Camby-like bean pole. His 2.9 blocks per game and 1.3 blocks/foul suggest that there is something to the Camby comparison. He offers nothing on offense other than rebounds and putbacks. He could go anywhere in the 2nd round or go completely undrafted.

4. Tiago Splitter (6’11, 240#, Brazil)

There’s a boatload of stuff out already on Splitter. The only thing I’ll add is that he may have some buyout issues, though that could just be a nasty rumor.

5. Jason Smith (7′, #, Colorado State)

Although Smith is a 7-footer, offensively he is mostly a turn-and-face player in the halfcourt. He is also very athletic. He runs the floor well and can handle the ball a bit. He has range in the 15-18 foot area. Unlike Fazekas he managed to get himself to the line in college (.66 FT/FG) while shooting the same TS% (65%). Unfortunately, also unlike Fazekas, he’s turnover prone (almost 4 per 40) but a good rebounder (13 per 40).

Center

Centers are similar to defensive tackles in football. To get a great one you have to get him early. However, you can find limited but serviceable ones later if you have an eye for talent and the patience to wait.

1. Marc Gasol (7′, 270#, Spain)

Pao’s baby brother is a big, strong, classic center. He is purported to have nice hands and a good feel but lacks athleticism, which is a huge drawback.

2. Aaron Gray (7’2″, 272#, Pittsburgh)

Aaron Gray is a decent rotation center for a team that runs a lot of halfcourt sets. He has always been a strong rebounder and isn’t turnover prone. Although he scored over 20 pts for the offensively-challenged Panthers this season his TS% is pedestrian (57%) and he doesn’t get to the line (.46 FT/FG), suggesting that he isn’t likely to develop into much more than a rotation guy.

3. Sean Williams (6’10”, 235#, Boston College)

Most observers at this point are well-aware of what Williams brings to the table. His shot-blocking numbers really are astounding: 6.3 per 40 and 1.56 per foul. For those of you who saw Williams play you recognize how these numbers may understate his defensive impact. On numerous occasions I have seen Williams switch out on screen-roll situations and block jump shots. He has been compared to Ratliff, though I think Camby is the more apt comparison because of Williams ability to play out on the floor defensively. I don’t recall seeing that from Ratliff. What is probably most surprising about Williams’ play, given the athleticism, length, and timing, is that he’s a legitimately mediocre rebounder (8.7 per 40, which was a substantial improvement over his first two seasons). Of course, since he offers little on offense other than putbacks it’s like playing 4-on-5 with Williams on the floor if he doesn’t help much on the glass. (Frankly, I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around how a player can be a truly great shot-blocker without being a great rebounder. Are there other players like this?) Williams gets the all-capsCAVEAT EMPTOR tag. He is in most respects a one-trick pony with a history of poor personal decision-making. He has considerable on-court work to put in just to be a more complete rotation player. He has the talent but to really develop in the NBA takes a fair bit of maturity. I’m not sure anyone has seen evidence of it.

Could Eddy Curry Cost the Knicks Kobe Bryant?

It’s as official as unofficial gets. According to ESPN.com news services, Kobe Bryant has met with Lakers owner Jerry Buss and re-iterated his desire to be traded. According to ESPNNEWS, Kobe is willing to go to 1 of 3 different teams: Phoenix, Chicago, or New York. Of course it makes sense that the Lakers would refuse to trade Kobe to Phoenix, a Western Conference rival, so essentially it would be a 2 team race.

There’s a lot of speculation concerning possible Kobe deals. Chris Sheridan wrote that New York is a possible front runner, offering Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Randolph Morris, Renaldo Balkman, and a pair of picks (’08 & ’10). Funny thing is, according to ESPN’s own’ trade checker, that deal isn’t possible, since the Knicks would be about $1.5M short with not enough small salaries to match. Even if they did a sign & trade (Cato?) to make the deal cap-frienldy, it would leave the Knicks with a roster similar to Kobe’s current team; one severely devoid of talent. New York’s depth chart would look something like:

PG: Marbury/Collins
SG: Kobe/Francis
SF: Richardson/Jeffries
PF: M.Rose/Jerome James
C: Curry/James/Cato?

The power forward depth chart would be a ghastly Malik Rose/Jerome James combo. The inevitable injury to Quentin Richardson would mean major playing time for both Jared Jeffries and Mardy Collins. New York wouldn’t have a draft pick to shore up their needs until the next Republican president. Glued to the bench for 35 minutes a game, Steve Francis would probably have his third career “in-season vacation”, and trading him would only leave a hole at reserve shooting guard. Isiah Thomas would only be left with the mid-level exception to build the team, and his previous acquisitions of Vin Baker, Jerome James, and Jared Jeffries wouldn’t instill me with confidence that he could acquire enough spare parts to build around Kobe.

Chad Ford imagines an interesting scenario: a 3-way deal concerning Los Angeles, Washington, and Chicago. The Bulls would send Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, P.J. Brown to make the salaries match, and this year’s #9 pick. The Wizards would send their disgruntled superstar (Arenas) to the Lakers, and receive the Bulls’ young players. Meanwhile Chicago would net Kobe with enough of a team remaining to be highly competitive. This would be a more palatable deal for Los Angeles, who get a star in Arenas in return. Even if Washington isn’t interested in moving Arenas, Chicago can offer this deal to Los Angeles directly. Either Arenas or the Bulls package would give Los Angeles bigger name recognition and more talent than the one Sheridan proposed above

From a Knick perspective, what’s most curious about Ford’s proposal are the Chicago players involved. Chicago received Tyrus Thomas and the #9 pick from New York in the Eddy Curry trade. So with the rival Bulls in a much better position to get one of the premiere talents in the NBA, I can’t help to wonder if the Knicks would be in a better position to get Kobe had they not made the Eddy Curry trade? In this alternative world New York could send David Lee, who would fit Gordon’s role as young possible All Star, and Steve Francis who would not only match Kobe’ salary, but would be a useful replacement. An offer of David Lee, Tyrus Thomas, the #9 pick, and Steve Francis is just as good if not better than Ford’s trade. In this scenario, the Bulls wouldn’t have Thomas or the #9 pick to compete against New York’s offer, and instead Chicago would be the lesser player in this negotiation. New York could still increase the offer by including youngsters Balkman, Robinson, and/or Collins. In such a trade, New York’s depth chart would look like:

PG: Marbury/(Robinson/Collins)
SG: Kobe/Francis/Crawford/(Robinson)
SF: Richardson/(Balkman)/Jeffries
PF: M.Rose/(Balkman)
C: Frye/James/Cato?

Assuming that the Knicks don’t have to sweeten the pot with their young trio, the franchise would have better depth and more assets to trade than in Sheridan’s scenario. Crawford and Francis would both be expendable, and could be used to upgrade the F/C positions. Even Balkman, Collins, or Robinson could be moved to fit the team around Kobe’s needs. New York would finally have the marquee player they’ve sought since Ewing was traded. But most importantly, the Knicks would have a powerhouse team to end their 6 year declinasty.

Of course this is just speculation. The Wizards may wish to reconcile with Arenas. The Bulls might be forced to make a stronger offer containing Deng. A third team like the Pacers or Timberwolves might try to acquire Kobe. Or Kobe might rescind his trade demand and stay put. But if, or I should say, IF Kobe does get traded to Chicago for a package that included the fruit of the Eddy Curry trade, I’d spend a lot of time wondering if Eddy Curry cost the Knicks Kobe Bryant.

Cavs 93 Knicks 97

Again quick notes.

* I’d like to write a program so that when I hit a key combination (CTRL-ALT-F1, for example) it spits out the sentence: “I?ve said it before and I?ll say it again, the Knicks need to work on their last second plays.” This is the lineup Isiah had in for the final shot: Marbury, Jeffries, Rose, Frye, Curry. And Isiah subbed in Jeffries specifically for that play. Why put in a defensive specialist with a career PPG of 6.1 for the last play when you have the ball? In fact, why have two of them (Rose)? Again there seemed to be no play, just a “you guys improvise out there” talk from Isiah. Luckily Marbury hits the three pointer, and this is all just a cranky blogger nit picking. But this situation bites them on the ass so many times.

* On that last shot, Frye passed the ball with 4 seconds on the shot clock. You can’t really blame him, but he does do that a lot. Someone needs to teach him how to look at the shot clock every now and then.

* When Randolph Morris entered the game I had to explain to my wife the significance of this situation. Hopefully 5 years from now when she’s on Jeopardy and the final question is “who is the first player to score in March Madness and the NBA in the same month” she’ll know the answer.

* Taking my advice from yesterday, Isiah gave Jerome James some second half running. Thanks for reading Zeke, feel free to comment!

* Boy our guards are good at rebounding, or is it that the rest of the team doesn’t apply themselves? Marbury and Nate both outrebounded Curry, and if Collins didn’t play 10 less minutes, we’d be including him here as well.

* Oh and hey we won a game!

Brrr?. Is There a Draft in Here? (Episode II: The Frontcourt)

[If you missed Episode I click here.

David Crockett is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of South Carolina, and can be reached at dcrockett17@yahoo.com.]

I the previous Episode I identified the backcourt as the team’s highest priority heading into the off-season. Whether through the draft, a sign-and-trade, or with the mid-level salary slot the Knicks must find a way to improve their perimeter defense as well as shave Marbury’s and Crawford’s minutes. To that end, let’s take a look at the frontcourt. First up: the big guys.

The Knicks ended the season with perhaps the highest percentage of power forwards on any roster in the league. Consider that the team started essentially two power forwards, Kurt Thomas and Mike Sweetney. Herb Williams also played Jerome Williams at both forward positions regularly. Isiah then traded for Malik Rose and Mo Taylor, placing Tim Thomas a mere heartbeat away from 4th string power forward.

The team’s ostensible center, Mike Sweetney, put together a solid (at best) campaign, especially considering that he played out of position. It was the kind of season that probably didn’t change many minds among his supporters or detractors. On offense, his PER (from 82games) at center was a very nice 18.8. As always, he shot a solid efg (53.5%), rebounded well (13.5 per 48), and got to the free throw line (7.9 per 48). However he struggled on the defensive end, giving up an opponent’s PER of 17.7. Though he managed to outshoot and out-rebound opposing centers per 48 minutes he also slightly out-fouled them (7 per 48), which meant that much of his potential offensive productivity went unrealized as he sat on the bench. That he struggled with fouls and offered essentially no shot-blocking against opposing centers is not necessarily surprising. He played virtually every game at a significant height disadvantage. Even conceding this, I still maintain that “Sweets,” as he is commonly known, would do well to lay off the sugary treats and slim down. He may be a bit young to remember that once upon a one time “The Thing that Ate” Ollie Miller was more than a punch line for a would-be sports writer.

Miller was an even better version of Sweetney, a rising young player with promise, fresh off the toughest Finals series the Jordan-led Bulls ever played. But basketball is an unforgiving profession on tendons and joints, even for the most finely tuned bodies. So ultimately Miller’s inability to keep off the extra 35-40 pounds made him less effective on the floor, kept him on the injured list with an endless assortment of ankle and knee ailments, and eventually forced him from the league. His problems were exacerbated – if not caused outright – by his obesity; and I won’t even get into the John “Hot Plate” Williams cautionary tale. (Note: “Hot Plate” is mentioned in this Washington Times column by Tom Knott on the end of the Bullets/Wizards futility. I defy you to read the article and NOT laugh out loud. It’s hysterical.)

Interestingly, backup center Mo Taylor is this season’s biggest defensive surprise. Ignoring for the moment that his acquisition is Isiah’s least defensible roster move to date, Taylor was a genuine surprise. After expecting to see Marburyesque indifference I recall watching games this season and being genuinely stunned at Taylor’s defensive effort. The numbers appear to bare it out. On offense Taylor was pretty much what I’d come to expect: an accomplished (though streaky) scorer and a turnover machine. His PER of only 13.1 at center was a tad lower than I’d expected but not altogether shocking. I would expect that with a full training camp we’d see Taylor move into the 14-15 range. The big stunner was on defense where Taylor held opposing centers to a fantastic 14.3 PER. Obviously the Knicks would love to see this kind of defensive production off the bench. Even should Taylor regress a bit on defense an opponent’s PER just around league average would be tremendous production from the backup center over a full season.

At power forward, Kurt Thomas is limited in what he can contribute on offense as a spot-up jump shooter and rebounder. Though his PER at power forward is below league average (14.4) he remains a decent shooter from field (46% efg), and superb in the 15-20 foot area off the screen-roll. He also still rebounds quite well (13.7 per 48). On defense he’s pretty awful, allowing opposing power forwards a 19.1 PER. Among the backup forwards perhaps the biggest surprise is Malik Rose. His defense, which is his calling card, was generally quite good (13.7 opponents PER). His aw-fense was awful. His PER of 9.7 is the unsightly fate of undersized power forwards with limited perimeter skills; they rarely age gracefully. But, such is the price of the additional first round pick. He better be good, whoever he is because watching Rose jack up shots has been painful. I knew that it seemed like he shot the ball an awful lot to me but when I went to 82games.com I was dumbfounded. For all the talk of his selfless professionalism no one mentioned that this guy is a bona fide ball hog. Rose took almost 13 shots per 48 minutes at power forward, hitting at an abysmal 40% efg. Sweetney and Thomas both took just under 15 and JYD took only 10.3 shots per 48. These players all shot over 50% efg.

Wherever it comes from the Knicks most certainly need better overall play from the frontcourt. I compared Sweetney’s and Thomas’ PER and opponent’s PER with center/power forward tandems from the league’s five most efficient defensives. (I also included the same comparison for backcourt players – just for kicks and giggles.)

Name Pos. PER Opp. PER
Sweetney, M (NY) C 18.8 17.7
Thomas, K (NY) PF 14.4 19.1
NBA Top 5 Teams in Defensive Efficiency
Duncan, T. (SA) C 28.6 13.8
Muhammed, N. (SA) PF 6.8 15.8
Nesterovic, R. (SA) C 13.1 13.2
Curry, E. (Chi) C 17.4 13.3
Davis, A. (Chi) PF 13.1 14.6
Chandler, T (Chi) C 19.1 12.8
Wallace, B. (Det) C 18.7 15.8
Wallace, R. (Det) PF 17.7 15.3
Ming, Y. (Hou) C 24.9 14.6
Howard, J. (Hou) PF 13.9 16.9
Wright, L. (Mem) C 15.4 16
Gasol, P. (Mem) PF 25.7 17

Name (Team) Pos. PER Opp. PER
Marbury, S. (NY) PG 23.3 16.4
Crawford, J. (NY) SG 16.8 18.2
NBA Top 5 Teams in Defensive Efficiency
Parker, T. (SA) PG 19.6 13
Ginobili, M. (SA) SG 22.7 10.8
Duhon, C. (Chi) PG 10.8 15.2
Hinrich, K. (Chi) SG 17.6 13.8
Billups, C. (Det) PG 20.4 12.9
Hamilton, R. (Det) SG 17.5 13.8
Sura, R. (Hou) PG 16.1 17.3
Wesley, D. (Hou) SG 12.4 15.7
Williams, J. (Mem) PG 16.7 16.2
Battier, S. (Mem) SG 18.3 14.1

* Non-starter

Although this comparison hardly qualifies as scientific it aptly illustrates how far the Knicks are behind the best defensive teams. Nonetheless, there is hope that at least Sweetney can lower his opponent’s PER into the 15.5-16.5 range next season. Entering his third season he should begin to catch an occasional break from the zebras on the “nickel-dime” type fouls that put him on the bench with regularity. Hopefully, his summer will be spent working on his conditioning so he will be less prone to such fouls. More importantly, the Knicks must make the commitment to put him at his natural power forward spot and keep him there. This of course means the team must acquire or develop a center.

Should the Knicks look to the draft to address the frontcourt presumably they’ll be in the market for a player who can log many if not most of his minutes at center, preferably providing some shot blocking. Given the paucity of quality true centers available in the draft in the table I combine centers with power forwards who play both positions. I leave out high school and international players as well as true power forwards that would have a difficult time helping the team immediately (e.g., Sean May, Ike Diogu, Wayne Simien).

Centers/Power Forwards

Name/College Availability? Comment
Andrew Bogut, Utah Top five Bogut is a consensus top 5 pick. He is a good ? not great ? athlete who can control a game with his skill and passing, particularly for a team who could play him in the high post. I hope he likes Atlanta.
Chris Taft, Pittsburgh Anywhere from #8 to #15, based on workouts/interviews The size and willingness to use it are all what you?re looking for in a big 6?10? pf/c, yet he has never dominated. People keep waiting for the light to come on. The interviews may be as important to this kid as any in the draft, including the high schoolers. It?s unlikely he falls far out of the top 10, if at all. If the Knicks remain at #8 this will likely be the guy slotted to them.
Charlie Villanueva, UConn Anywhere from #8 to #20 There is much to like about Villanueva. He runs the floor well. He shoots a high percentage. He rebounds and blocks shots. Unfortunately, he also likes to play like a small forward at times even though he is 6?11?. Does he want to play center?
Channing Frye, Arizona Anywhere from #15 to late first round Disclaimer: I?m an Arizona grad. Channing Frye may be the Shane Battier/Josh Howard of this draft. He doesn?t have superstar potential but he also doesn?t have a lot of holes in his game. He should be a very good pro PF/C for a lot of years. It would be highway robbery if the Knicks pick him up at the end of the first round. More likely they?d have to move into the 16-20 area.
Randolph Morris, Kentucky Anywhere from #15 to mid-second round I know the league is starved for big players but if this kid doesn?t pull out and go back to Kentucky for at least one more season something is dreadfully wrong with the NBA. I can understand over-estimating the potential of high schoolers but this kid staying on the floor at Kentucky and he was basically the only center in the entire SEC.
Jared Homan, Iowa State Second round If you?re looking for a backup center that ONLY rebounds and blocks shots in the second round he?s your guy.

Adding to the depth at this position are some talented international players: Johan Petro from France, Fran Vasquez from Spain, and Tiago Splitter from Brazil, as well as two schoolboy 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Andray Blatche. Although no David Robinsons or Tim Duncans populate this draft, some pretty serviceable centers are available. Most – after Bogut – will likely go off the board in the 8-20 range. If the Knicks remain at #8 in the draft lottery they could conceivably move down and still get a pretty decent player.

Small Forward

Name/College Availability? Comment
Marvin Williams, UNCC Top 3-4 pick Honestly, I didn?t see him play enough to do anything but parrot what everyone else is saying. ?This kid is the greatest thing since snowshoes. He?s much better than Cats. I?d go see him again and again.? They must know what they?re talking about, right?
Danny Granger, New Mexico Late lottery to end of first round I doubt Granger lasts until the end of the first. I think he?s the best ?true? small forward available but that tends to be the deepest pro position. His points per shot each year at New Mexico: 1.29, 1.41, 1.55, 1.62. His rebounds: 7.1, 7.9, 9, 8.9. He hurt himself with an awful game in the NCAA though.
Joey Graham, Oklahoma State Mid-to-late first round The athletic comparisons to Corey Maggette I have yet to see. Like Maggette he?s going to have to move his game outside to play his pro position. Coming out of OSU, he?s not surprisingly a good defender.
Ryan Gomes, Providence Late first/Early second Gomes re-made himself from a post-up only player into a ?power? 3, with a lot more skill than Graham. He dramatically improved his ball-handling and his perimeter shot.
Linas Kleiza, Missouri Second round/undrafted Kleiza is quality rebounder with a decent offensive repertoire. He probably lacks the quickness to defend SF?s in the NBA. He may go to Europe.

Looking at New York’s roster today, small forward does not appear to be a position of need. Of course, things change in the off-season. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Penny Hardaway is pushing for a buyout in order to re-sign with the Magic. Tim Thomas is also entering the final year of his deal. So those two contracts may indeed be moved this off-season. If they are, Trevor Ariza may be the incumbent at small forward unless Allan Houston can come back. Consequently, the Knicks cannot afford to ignore the swingmen in the upcoming draft. I’ve included swing players, who play in the backcourt, as well as ‘tweener types that play up front but handle the ball.

Of the small forwards I see the Knicks as most interested in a swingman than a power-three. Should the Knicks wind up in the top 3 certainly Williams would have to be one of the names they’d consider, along with Bogut and Paul. Should the Knicks remain at #8, irrespective of who is on the board the team should strongly consider Granger. He’s a do it all swing player. He could play in the backcourt, with Ariza at the small forward, and all of a sudden the Knicks could be looking at cutting off much of the penetration that plagues the defense.