March Madness Draft Preview
As the NCAA tournament approaches many top NBA prospects will be in action providing NBA fans a good look. This is a good opportunity for fans whose teams are in tank mode to see potential prospects in action.
I recently got Twitter for the first time and one thing I have noticed is the apparent desperation among Knicks fans to reach the top of the lottery. Fortunately that may not be necessary to get a franchise cornerstone in this draft.
This was one of the best drafts at the top in recent memory, and the ascension of Oklahoma’s Trae Young just makes it better. Collin Sexton has been compared to last years fifth overall pick De’Aaron Fox. In this years draft many mock drafts have Sexton falling out of the top ten.
It also helps that the Knicks major deficiencies, defense, three point shooting, and the small forward position all can be addressed around the ninth pick. The back end of the top ten seems to be the optimal spot for a team seeking a three and D wing.
This season has been a career year for Villanova Junior Mikal Bridges. Up to this year he had been a defensive stud for the one seed Wildcats. Now he has been an offensive weapon as well. He averaged 18 points a game for a very good team, and is a good three point shooter. He has spent the most time in college of the top prospects which could help ease the transition to the NBA. His scoring ability, and three point shot are nice, but his ability to defend multiple positions, and shut down an opponents best player is his biggest draw.
Kevin Knox is a combo forward who could play the three, and then slide down to the four in small lineups. Most people praise his scoring ability, he led Kentucky with almost sixteen points a game, and his shooting ability, but he also has a lot of defensive upside. He’s six foot nine with long arms, and is very athletic. He has all the physical tools to be a great NBA defender alongside his scoring prowess.
Of the NBA prospects Michigan State Forward Miles Bridges has arguably the most to prove. He likely would have been selected in the lottery last year, but elected to remain with the Spartans. The biggest concern is that statistically this season has not been an improvement from the last. Entering a tough region in the tournament Bridges could help his draft stock if he carries the Spartans on a tournament run. All that being said Bridges has good athleticism, and is a very good defender, although he isn’t as long as Knox. He shot 36.9% from three last year, but has some people worried that he won’t be a great shooter at the next level. He has potential, and should be chosen in the back half of the lottery.
Of these three at least two should be around at number nine for the Knicks to choose from. That being said the Knicks could move up a few spots if they continue to lose at this rate, and if the balls fall their way. The top end of this draft is loaded with centers, a position the team could take although I would like to see Kristaps Porzingas spend more time at the five after his injury, especially if the injury hurts his already subpar perimeter defense. A move to center would allow KP to utilize his shot blocking more often which is obviously his best defensive trait. If the team picks high enough however, someone like Mohammed Bamba out of Texas could really improve the Knicks defense.
Over the past few months my opinion of several players have changed. At the beginning of the season I would have loved to select Marvin Bagley out of Duke. Over the course of the season however, he has been a very poor defender, and his offensive game does not seem suited to the NBA. If the Knicks took him I would not be upset because of his upside, and immense athleticism, but I would not be nearly as ecstatic as I would have been a few months ago.
Oklahoma point guard Trae Young is another I have soured on. Early in the season he set the world on fire with his Steph Curry like shooting, but slumped toward the end with OU limping into the tournament. He is the type of player who could energize a fanbase, but needs to perform well in the tournament to make me feel safe about selecting him. I think he could play next to Ntilikina which would be good because Young will probably never be a great defender.
Michael Porter Jr. is a relative unknown heading into the tournament. He was projected by many to be a top three pick, but suffered a back injury almost immediately in his first college game. He did not look great in the SEC tournament when he managed a return earlier than expected. The tournament is his chance to prove that he not only is healthy, but that he deserves a top selection. If the Knicks move up in the draft lottery, or if Porter falls due to injury concerns, his Carmelo Anthony like scoring ability, and allstar potential would make him a welcome addition to the team.
All of these players could be great NBA players, and there isn’t one I would be overly upset to see in a Knicks uniform. In a perfect world Luka Doncic would be my favorite choice, with the passion, vision, and playmaking he could bring to the team. Unfortunately, it would take a huge stroke of luck in the lottery for the Knicks to get a chance to pick him. That being said Michael Porter or a three and D wing would be a very good consolation prize.