The New York Knicks don’t enter this draft with a ton of ammunition – 11th & 42nd – but they can still find impact players. Ever since the Knicks hired Leon Rose and salary cap guru Brock Aller in 2020, they have made strategically sound moves. The days of the Knicks consistently making head-scratching moves seem to be in the past now.
New York Knicks Draft Picks
- 1 (11th)
- 2 (42nd)
New York Knicks Draft Needs
Mitchell Robinson and Ryan Arcidiacono are both unrestricted free agents. With only two potential departures to handle, the Knicks have off-season clarity. Robinson is a shot-blocker who acts as a lob threat for New York, yet he is replaceable should the Knicks decide against re-signing him. There are a number of centers in the draft and free agency that function as an upgrade. Arcidiacono, meanwhile, only played in 10 games and averaged 7.6 MPG. The Knicks can let Arcidiacono walk without any consequences for their rotation. Although the Knicks don’t have many free agents, they may radically change their roster this off-season. Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, and Julius Randle are most likely on the trading block, so they could potentially enter a soft rebuild.
The Knicks currently have a good wing/forward rotation. RJ Barrett is a foundational piece who just averaged 20 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.0 APG on a 40/34/71 shooting split. Barrett flashed his immense scoring potential this season, which should delight the front office. In a 22-game span from February 2nd to March 30th, he produced 25.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 3.8 APG on a 40/33/74 shooting split. His efficiency needs to improve, but Barrett is a tough shot-maker who has 28 PPG scoring upside. Obi Toppin, meanwhile, showed long-term upside as an impact starter at power forward. In the 19 games he saw 20+ minutes, Toppin had 17.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 2 APG on a tremendous 56/39/76 shooting split.
And even though Fournier and Randle have flaws, they are productive veterans who can contribute to a winning squad. Fournier had 14.1 PPG and 2.1 APG while shooting 38.9% from deep. The Knicks can bring him off the bench as an excellent sixth man or start him at shooting guard. Randle had a down year, but he is one season removed from an All-NBA berth. The Knicks can count on 20 points and 10 rebounds from him, which is not an easy thing to replace.
The point guard position is in dire straits, as Kemba Walker is a shell of his former self. He cannot score at the same clip, which means the offensive value doesn’t trump his severe defensive deficiencies. Alec Burks is an inconsistent scorer who cannot serve as a primary playmaker, and Immanuel Quickley is a microwave scorer best suited as a sixth man. Their final option – an injury prone Derrick Rose – doesn’t have the burst or playmaking to be their lead guard. Overall, New York has multiple solid bench guards, but they need a primary ball handler who can set up teammates for clean looks. Barrett was too often the main creator, and it hindered the offense since that’s not his strength.
Mitchell Robinson has moments of excellence, but the Knicks should upgrade. He is too limited offensively and doesn’t offer an ounce of playmaking or range. Even if the Knicks made the playoffs, they couldn’t play Robinson in clutch situations due to his horrid career 54 FT%. He’s a decent backup center who provides rim protection, but the Knicks have to snare a quality center this off-season.
New York Knicks Draft Targets
- Dyson Daniels
If Dyson Daniels drops to them at 11, the Knicks should strongly consider ending his slide. He’s a 6’7” primary ball handler who can create shots at an impressive level. In addition to his playmaking, Daniels projects to be an elite perimeter defender who can guard 1-3. His outside shooting is a work in progress, but the Knicks desperately need his passing, ball handling, and defense. New York could trot out a big lineup of Daniels (6’7”), Fournier (6’7”), Barrett (6’6”), Toppin (6’9”), and Randle (6’8”).
- Jalen Duren
The Knicks could also patch their center rotation by selecting Jalen Duren at 11. He’s an elite rim protector who thrives in transition and as the roll man. Duren’s passing and developing mid-range shot would give the Knicks a cornerstone at center. They also wouldn’t have to play Mitchell Robinson in free agency, which opens up cap space.
- Jean Montero
Jean Montero is an excellent choice at 42. The 6’2” point guard has a tight handle and excels with his change of direction. Montero showed playmaking chops and the ability to pull up from three. His offensive skill set would boost the Knicks bench and give them a primary shot creator.
- Hugo Besson
Hugo Besson is another point guard at 42 who can be the primary bench ball handler. His silky smooth jump shot spaces the floor far more than Burks, Walker, Quickley, or Rose. Besson can fit beautifully next to Barrett because he excels both on and off-ball.
Recent New York Knicks Draft Picks & Tendencies
The Knicks have gone for athletic, polished prospects recently, as they selected RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin. I expect the Knicks to target their weaknesses instead of taking the best player available because they believe they are a few pieces from contention. I also expect the Knicks to take a developed player who can start Day 1 (like Daniels and Duren).