The Next Knicks
Written By Nicholas McGowan
Now is the time to stand up and applaud Phil Jackson (if you haven’t already), for the heist he pulled off yesterday in the trade with the Dallas Mavericks. Phil Jackson shipped out the 14 million dollar contract of Tyson Chandler and the multiyear deal Raymond Felton still had remaining. The Knicks received from the Mavericks point guard Jose Calderon, backup shooting guard Wayne Ellington, starting center Samuel Dalambert, promising young point guard Shane Larkin, and two second draft picks in tonight’s draft. With the Knicks actually making smart moves and getting back draft picks, its time start being proud of the fact that for one day we are not the laughing stock of the NBA when it comes to trades. (Player contracts are another story, but at least we are improving in one area). The Knicks come out of this deal looking to go younger and looking to get rid of big contracts. Expect that trend to continue as the offseason progresses. Could we possibly see a J.R. Smith trade tonight instead of a Shumpert trade? Could we possibly see Jose Calderon be traded one day after we acquired him? A lot of new possibilities have emerged with this trade. I would expect the Knicks draft strategy to deviate after yesterday’s deal, so with that said let us take a look at who the Knicks might target in the second round and look at the chance that the Knicks still trade into the first round.
Before the trade I had the Knicks trading up to the 21st spot with the OKC Thunder to draft Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis. Trading Shumpert for Ennis would be a good move in my book and would welcome the addition of pass first point guard that has great court vision and plays defense. Yet with the addition of Shane Larkin and Jose Calderon the Knicks might draft a point guard with their later pick. The Knicks might target Louisville guard Russ Smith. Smith is a talented 3-point shooter, decent defender, and a good value for a late second round pick. I would hope the Knicks could find a way to trade Jose Calderon but if they don’t having Larkin and Calderon going forward would be an upgrade over Toure Murray and Raymond Felton.
There are not many reasons as to why the Knicks would draft a shooting guard. That being said, Deandre Kane is listed as a shooting guard on NBA.com so that is why he is listed here. With great size, (6’4), Kane is a great combo guard and could penetrate the paint and dish it out to our other three point shooters. Kane showed off his skill at Iowa State this past season and would be a much better fit than Russ Smith, yet Kane might go higher than our pick at 54. Kane would fit well coming off the bench and playing Larkin, Hardaway Jr., and J.R. Smith.
My favorite player in this draft is UCLA small forward Kyle Anderson. Anderson is an ever-improving player who already showcases great NBA talents. Anderson passes like a true point guard, drives the basket, and has been improving his jumper and three point shot throughout the season. His knock against him is that he does not play very well on the defensive end of the floor. I know what your thinking, “oh great another player who can’t play defense,” but I am not worried, he is going to help out our non-passing offense immediately. Anderson has been going in some mock drafts as high as 15 and as low as 28. I am not sure about the fit of Anderson in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense but I think Anderson will contribute to whatever NBA team he ends up on. I would hope the Knicks pick up Anderson to pair with Carmelo Anthony. Trading Shumpert for the Thunder’s 21st pick or the Heat’s 26th pick would be worth it. Anderson would be the perfect fit with Melo because of Andersons want to pass first, and with Anderson playing the 3, Melo could move over to 4, where likes to play. We would play small ball but would be a more offensive flowing team. Calderon, Hardaway/ Anderson/ Melo/ Dalembert would be formidable starting 5, our defensive would suffer, so if we could trade Hardaway Jr. for the 26th pick and pick Anderson, adding Shumpert to that starting line up would make it great.
Cleanthony Early is another one of my favorite players. When watching him against Kentucky in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament, it was clear that Early could hit any shot. He hustled back on defense and was the reason as to Wichita State was able to keep pace with Kentucky. Early is a projected second round pick, yet with some mock drafts placing him in the late first round, the Knicks should try to buy an early second round pick if Early is still available.
The trade with the Mavs really changed my view on what the Knicks will do when addressing the center position. I did not think the Knicks would trade up to the first round to draft a backup for Chandler, but with the trade they try to trade up and draft Adreian Payne or Mitch McGary. If the Knicks feel they do want to trade up then they should address these positions in the offseason. While Patric Young has limited upside, he is the type where what you see is what you get. Young can play defensive and is good option when going to the low post. Young is not close to Scoring talented of Payne or McGary, nor is he the defensive presence of them but Young would be a fine pick at number 54. The Knicks have a bigger importance on these positions now but I think they will address both in free agency.
In my mind there is a dream draft for the Knicks. The first part of my dream draft would be for the Knicks to trade Hardaway Jr. to the OKC Thunder for the 21st pick. From there we draft Kyle Anderson, then select Mitch McGary with the 34th pick, and finally end up with Deandre Kane at pick 54. My worst-case scenario is that the Knicks do not trade up but still select Cleanthony Early at pick 34 and Russ Smith at pick 54. The Knicks have a ton of options yet I think it is clear that the Knicks need to draft players with scoring potential to replace Melo if he decides to leave. I loved the move by Phil Jackson yesterday and I have faith in whomever he drafts. If Phil makes a trade I hope Shumpert is a last resort option and not given up for less value then he is worth. The draft tonight should be interesting and worth watching when pick 34 comes around if not earlier.