Could Knicks target 2x National Player of the Year center for title run?

Zach Edey, Knicks
Credit: Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Knicks could come away with a championship building block in the 2024 NBA Draft. The Knicks were a Game 7 luck of the draw away from making a serious run through this year’s postseason even without All-Star Julius Randle, before succumbing to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. New York is a team that’s one or two impact players away from cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned with out East.

A missing piece to their puzzle could be Purdue center Zach Edey. The two-time National Player of the Year is a behemoth of a big man with an interior presence on both ends that could rival any center the Knicks have had in their prime this side of the 21st century.

Knicks could get the steal of the 2024 Draft with Purdue center Zach Edey

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Credit: Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Edey is projected to go late in the first round, where the Knicks have two consecutive picks at No. 24 and No. 25 overall. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley has the Knicks taking Edey at No. 25.

The 7-4, 300-pound five-man has a legitimate hook shot that he can go to on the low block. He exhibits good footwork with his back to the basket and is a nightmare to contain when he goes to his right hand. He’s not an uber-athletic lob threat, but at his height, the Canadian dunks the ball with ease from a higher vantage point over his competition.

Knicks have real precedent to take Edey in the first round

New York could lose Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa in free agency and have Mitchell Robinson as one of their most tradable assets they could include in a package deal for a superstar player. The Knicks will need a sizable center that can do what all three of those big men did in 2023-24 — set effective screens, run to the rim, protect the basket at an elite level, and clean the glass like an infomercial product that delivers on what it promises.

Edey can be that guy for the Knicks. His 12.5 nightly rebounds and 2.1 blocks over the course of his junior and senior seasons with the Boilermakers showed that he owned the paint. From the eye test, Edey is skilled at recovering on the weak side and rejecting attempts at the rim from slashers who beat his teammates off the dribble. His 18.1 percent offensive rebounding percentage, while in the collegiate ranks, offers promise that he can give the Knicks the level of second-chance opportunities that helped them thrive last season.

Of truth, Edey has elements of Yao Ming and Brook Lopez in his game. Should he reach an NBA ceiling like the latter, he’d blossom into an All-Star caliber contributor. If like the former, Edey would go down as an all-time great center. The Knicks would benefit greatly from taking him at No. 24 or No. 25 and developing his talents.

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