There was a collection of groans reverberating through fans of #Knickstape. For the first time in 30 years, the Knicks had an opportunity to have the coveted #1 pick. The opportunity came at a time when the team desperately needs a young player to be the bridge between the Melo era and the future. Yet, the pride of the D-Leaguers took the Knicks out of the running for the worst record. Having less balls in the lottery meant the best we could do was a top 5 pick. Wounding up with the 4th pick lead to such disappointment that Steve Mills swiftly stated that the pick is available for trade talk.
Trading picks, up until draft night, happens often. However, this is the Knicks’s (and directly Phil Jackson’s) sole chance to re-create a franchise the city can be proud of. So here are my simply laid out arguments for why the Knicks should keep their lottery pick and draft wisely.
There’s big men who are going to be unrestricted free agents
The assumption is that the 4th pick is only up for trade if it’ll return high assets; mainly, a big man and/or a wing defender. While getting rid of Tyson Chandler cleared cap space for the rebuild, we got nothing valuable in return in that trade with Dallas. Jose Calderon was sidelined with injury which left the Knicks relying on Langston Galloway to carry heavy minutes as a rookie. He showed that he can handle the pressure of playing in the Garden. I believe Galloway made a case that he can be a starter long-term. But what the Knicks have lacked is a consistent man in the middle. Now that getting Okafor or Towns isn’t going to happen, we can use the roughly $25 million in cap to get a serviceable man for the middle. There’s been talks that Greg Monroe is a sure bet. Other bigs who’ll be UFA are Paul Millsap, Omer Asik, both of the Lopez twins, and Amir Johnson. Because dominant big men are so rare, I can’t see any teams willing to give up their centerpiece to draft a guard. The other thing is I don’t think the Knicks don’t need an elite big. They just need one who can rebound well and stay healthy enough to be effective defensively for at least 50 games. That’s all it takes to make it to the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The 4th pick has recent history as a “sweet spot”
- 1995: Rasheed Wallace
- 1996: Stephon Marbury
- 2003: Chris Bosh
- 2005: Chris Paul
- 2007: Mike Conley Jr.
- 2008: Russell Westbrook
What a list! Players, particularly guards, have been quite the trend at the 4 spot in the last 20 years. They become major components of their team’s immediate upward shift. So the Knicks shouldn’t be worried. If they follow a clearly set pattern, they’ll draft a strong 2-way guard who develops faster than a big man would. I don’t put it past the Zen Master to pull a trick out of his ass if a trade is imminent. However, just like in the case of drafting Okafor or Towns, there are small windows to draft a young guard who’s ready to start right away. D’Angelo Russell is the best guard available in this draft. I don’t believe in luck. Although, you can’t argue with the success of previous picks at this position. That being said, whomever the Knicks draft at this spot will greatly effect the free agents that Jackson will be able woo. This is a league of stable, proficient guard play. That’ll be a crucial selling point since all of the teams that make it deep in the playoffs every year have a great floor general.
It’s hard to ever know what the Knicks brass plan to do. Yet, this draft and offseason will make or break Jackson’s remaining time in NY. It’ll also be an intriguing asterisk in Melo’s legacy. As a fan, I’m just going to enjoy the remaining month of playoff basketball we have, let go, and let God. *insert praying hands emoji*