Only 13 days to go until the 2010 NBA Draft! Falling behind here on the team-by-team draft previews, but let's try to keep the ball rolling. Today we look at the New York Knicks.
We've mentioned before about how the Draft might be somewhat irrelevant to some teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, and Phoenix Suns, among others, which have very low draft picks. There are also the obvious teams in the Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Denver Nuggets which have zero draft picks.
The Knicks are a different breed of draft irrelevancy. Yes, they have two low-ish picks at #38 and #39, but not only are they not a playoff team, but also they've cleaned house on their roster and everything really depends on free agency -- landing not one but two marquee free agents this summer is part of the master plan for Summer 2010.
After looking at the last 9 teams' HoopsHype.com Salaries database, I must say, the one for the Knicks is truly something to behold in this day and age of the business of the NBA. Let's take a look...
As the Knicks' fan blog KnicksFan.net wrote in a post back on April 3rd, What if the Knicks don't get anybody? The post sums up the sentiment in the opening paragraph:
That’s the 800lb gorilla in the room that we’ve all been willfully ignoring for almost two years now because the thought that the Knicks obliterated their talent base and suffered through two rudderless seasons only to whiff in free agency is so unpalatable. I know that, whenever my mind drifts towards that kind of speculation, I tend to shout it down with thoughts like "Nah, Donnie wouldn’t have done this unless he had good intel that someone great would come." or "Nah, we’ll at least get Joe Johnson because of his relationship with D’Antoni and Donnie’s relationship with his agent."
They suggest that Plan B entails building around Gallinari:
...instead of looking for franchise players, they should look to add young, talented rotation players that could serve as building blocks and compliment the one potential star they already have on the roster (Danilo Gallinari, of course).
And that, lo and behold, signing a couple free agents away from our Golden State Warriors could yield a decent roster:
So let’s say, for instance, that the Knicks dealt Wilson Chandler and a giant trade exception for Darren Collison and Peja Stojakovic. Then in free agency they added Camby, Johnson, (last night’s star) Anthony Morrow and Raja Bell. To me, that would make for an awfully productive summer.
It sure must be fun thinking about all the possibilities. Aside from Gallinari, it's basically a complete blank canvas. And it starts with the 2010 NBA Draft.
As such, I think you have to draft the best player available ("BPA"). Let's see what the mock drafts suggest. Since they are back-to-back picks, let's just take them two at a time...
Picks No. 38 and No. 39
- NBAdraft.net: Jordan Crawford (sg, 6'4", 198, Xavier, sophomore) and Tiny Gallon (pf, 6'10", 302, Oklahoma, freshman). I agree that you have to go with youth here, i.e., don't pick a senior and it's okay to draft a project. Both are pretty solid picks. I got to see both players play on TV this past season, albeit only a couple of times. My gut reaction on that small sampling is this. The drawback of Crawford is that you're afraid he might be a flash in the pan with his bust-out performance in the NCAA Tournament. The drawback with Gallon is that he played rather inconsistently and wasn't necessarily someone you thought was the best big man on the court. Incidentally, on DraftExpress, Crawford gets taken at #32 while Gallon doesn't even make the board.
- DraftExpress: Darington Hobson (sf/pf, 6'7", 205, New Mexico, junior) and Craig Brackins (pf/c, 6'10", 230, Iowa State, junior). Unfortunately, I haven't seen either player play this season, so I can't give my own two cents, but I've heard that Hobson is a great athlete and that Brackins had better Draft buzz last year and perhaps should've come out in 2009. Hobson is at #50 and Brackins at #32 on NBAdraft.net. You could say that either player is young, or you could say that they're seasoned collegians by now, so I'm not sure if either fits the mold of newbie-with-a-high-ceiling or not.
Again, I'm going to speculate that the Knicks can attract a ton of quality veterans via free agency and that their draft picks are better spent on raw talent and/or leadership. "Talent" would suggest youth, but in my book, with "leadership" you can be any age, but you definitely need alpha-dog mentality and a high basketball IQ.
That being said, let's look at any other BPAs the mocks have, listed after No. 38 or 39.
BPAs listed after No. 38 and 39
- NBAdraft.net: There are a slew of "older" players listed after #39 on NBAdraft.net. However, one guy that sticks out -- who may not really be that "old" -- is Charles Garcia (pf, 6'9", 232, Seattle, junior). He's only 21 and, by contrast, he's 11 months younger than, say, Hobson, who's also a junior. So Garcia's a relatively young junior. As I've written before, and because I've seen both players play from up close in person, Garcia reminds me of Thaddeus Young (and perhaps a shorter Anthony Randolph): tall, slim, yet has some remarkable face-up moves for someone of that stature. The jumpshot needs work and so does the confidence/aggressiveness/alpha-dogginess.
- DraftExpress: Garcia also appears on this mock lower than #39. However, there's an alpha dog on the DraftExpress list that's also lower: Jerome Randle (#54). I've already talked about him a lot on other team draft previews, but it's best to check my blogpost on him. As far as youth is concerned, there's Sylven Landesberg at #45, who's only a sophomore. A shooting guard at 6'6", 210, from Virginia, he's been readying himself for the NBA for quite some time now. I think it's very important to prepare yourself early as a pro, even through an NCAA scholarship. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him play at all, but based on what I've read, he's got a great work ethic and perhaps he can be a Poor Man's Allan Houston.
But it all really boils down to free agency for the Knicks.