3 reasons the Knicks will likely trade up in the 2021 NBA Draft

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

With the NBA draft set to commence on Thursday, July 29, the New York Knicks are arranging all of their last preparation and research before they have to make a few big decisions. Trade rumors have been circulating for the past few months, and while it is possible a blockbuster deal for Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal is on the table, it is more than likely that New York will end up trading their picks for a lottery selection.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Knicks are actively looking to move up:

The Knicks have explored opportunities to move up in Thursday’s Draft. They currently have the No. 19 and No. 21 picks in the first round and the No. 32 and No. 58 picks in the second round.

With several impact players projected to go before the Knicks’ first-round pick at 19, moving up and landing a prospect who can contribute immediately would be ideal. Nonetheless, there are multiple reasons the team could be looking to move up in the draft, let’s take a look at what they are.

Three reasons the Knicks will likely trade up in the NBA Draft:

1.) They have been working out a number of players projected to go earlier than 19

If there’s any indication New York is seeking a trade to move up, it is that they have been researching and working out players that are projected to go before the 19th overall pick. For example, the team worked out Virginia swingman Trey Murphy III and Oregon’s Chris Duarte this week. In addition, reports have indicated that the team is doing a ton of research on Sharife Cooper out of Auburn, one of the most prolific facilitators in the draft class.

This would suggest the team well have a good visualization of players who could be available and if trading up is worthwhile.

2.) They don’t have the roster space for four new rookies

Ultimately, the Knicks simply don’t have the roster space to fit four new rookies on the team, especially with Tom Thibodeau’s looking to make a jump this upcoming season and a serious playoff push.

With five veterans expected to hit free agency, replacing them with rookies doesn’t exactly scream efficiency. That should be the biggest hint of all, especially with a deep free agency class at multiple positions.

3.) The Knicks can land an impact player in a trade-up

By moving up into the late lottery, the Knicks could target a player like Davion Mitchell out of Baylor, who could be hovering in the 8-10 range and offers elite defense. James Bouknight out of UConn also presents a solid shooting option, Jalen Johnson is another player who has been connected to New York in recent days, and Cooper is quickly climbing the draft board. The majority of players on their board and who have participated in workouts/interviews will likely be gone by 19.

Based on the impact that Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina had last year at point guard, finding a high upside player we can contribute in one above-average way would be ideal. If the team elects to retain Derrick Rose at PG, putting a young player behind him would be a good scenario, allowing him to help mentor and develop their long-term solution.

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