Is it just me or is this the least anticipated draft in a long time? For some reason there is a distinct lack of buzz this year. Maybe it’s due to the Lakers/Celtics series ending just last week. Perhaps fans are more concerned with the pending free agent signing period. Maybe its because the top three picks have been pretty much set in stone since the lottery.
I wonder if you can really get excited about a draft in which pick 20 could turn out to be a better pro than pick 5? I’m not saying Daniel Orton is an equal prospect to DeMarcus Cousins, but with the questions surrounding Cousins, who knows what he will be in five years? And that really underscores the problem with this draft: high on potential and short on sure things.
To me, this year’s draft is reminiscent of the 2001 and 2006 drafts. Each of those drafts saw big disappointments in about half of the top 10 picks. 2001 lottery picks Brown (1), Curry (4), Griffin (7), Diop (8), and White (9) played well below expectations while less heralded Wallace (25), Parker (28), Arenas (31), and Okur (38) range between solid pros to all-star players. 2006’s unholy trinity of Morrison (3), Thomas (4), and Williams (5) should still be fresh in all minds. But second round finds Gibson (42), Milsap (47), and Powe (49) are contributors. The point here is that the Knicks could get lucky and find a solid contributor at 38 and/or 39.
Take if available:
Willie Warren(PG): I think Warren has too much talent to pass up at 38/39. He has good size for a point (6-4), excellent ball handler, solid passer, can get into the lane and also to the line. I am aware that his shot selection needs work but according to draft combine reports he has good mechanics.
Jordan Crawford (SG): A very effective scorer with well a rounded offensive game. Unlike Warren, Crawford shows good shot selection and is very efficient. In fact, he is the second most efficient player in draft according to Draft Express. He tends to over dribble and is always on the look out for his shot. Crawford’s offense is somewhat limited by an inability to get to the line. He reminds me of another Crawford who played here–except for the efficient part.
Lance Stephenson(SG): This guy is all over the place in mocks. NBAdraft.net has him going 15th, DX has him 41st, CNN didn’t place him in the first round, and Chad Ford won’t tell me where he thinks Stephenson will go unless I fork over 6.95 a month (Ed’s note – 37th as per version 6.1). Anyway Stephenson has great size (6-6) for the two, he is strong and quick though not a super athlete. A one dimensional offensive player but is superb in that dimension. Stephenson is probably a higher upside than Crawford. There are maturity concerns with him and I wonder if giving him a half million dollars then turning him loose in his home town is a great idea. That aside, on talent he is a steal at 38.
Jerome Jordan(C): The 7 footer center from Tulsa will be 24 years old by the start of the 2010-11 season, but he is still quite young in terms of the basketball development–began playing late in high school. His offense is limited but he has a solid face up jumper and good defensive skills. Even if his ceiling is a solid back up center, that’s pretty good for the 38th pick.
Mikhail Torrence(PG): Has good size (6-5) and can get to the basket with either hand. Good passing skills are slightly marred by below average decision making. A flawed player (that is why he’ll probably be available) but has potential to improve. Pushes the ball and transitions well. Probably a good fit for D’Antoni’s offense. Torrence’s shot needs work (46 FG%) but far better offensive player than Duhon or Collins.
I would pass on:
Gani Lawal(PF): I don’t dislike the 6-9 junior but I don’t see how he fits into the coach’s plans. A defensive specialist with a limited offensive game sounds like a guy that will languish on the end of D’Antoni’s bench.
Tiny Gallon (C): A lighter version of Jerome James at 6-10 305. Again, does not fit into the current style of play.
Samardo Samuels(PF): A graduate of my alma mater and I wish him the best but I’m not sure he has the tools to survive as an undersized PF (6-8) in the NBA. Sure guys like Milsap, Blair, and Glen Davis do well with a similar frame, but Samuels doesn’t show the rebounding ability of Milsap or Blair, and Samuels lacks Davis’ ability to finish against larger players.
With a little luck, and a good eye for talent, a GM can find a valuable player in the second round. Because the Knicks have only 4 players under contract for 2011, they don’t have to draft based on position needs–they need everything– placing positional needs above talent is always a bad idea. Given the current state of the roster and the coach’s reluctance to give minutes to rookies, I think the approach is to take the most talented, high potential player available, then hope he develops into a solid contributor over the next 2-3 seasons.