Knicks could add size with star Baylor prospect in this year’s draft

Yves Missi, Knicks
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the New York Knicks’ playoff run is over, the next main focus is the upcoming NBA Draft, which will take place roughly a month from now. The Knicks own three picks in this year’s edition, with picks 24 (via Dallas Mavericks), 25, and 38 (via Utah Jazz).

It’s been a while since the Knicks’ last draft selection

The Knicks bypassed the draft last year, trading away their picks to increase capital. The last player they drafted was Trevor Keels out of Duke in the second round of the 2022 draft, though he only played three NBA games with the team and spent most of his time with the organization in the G League.

Whoever the Knicks draft should see plenty of immediate playing time

This year, there is an expectation that the Knicks will draft a player with at least one of their available picks. Given that a majority of their roster for next season is set, it is unlikely that whoever the Knicks draft will receive a substantial amount of playing time right away, but they will still serve a massive purpose in the event of an injury or an offseason trade.

Could the Knicks trade away their draft capital again?

In Leon Rose’s world, it is impossible to rule out the idea of the picks being traded once again, but for a high-profile star that has established himself in the NBA already. However, nothing has indicated up to this point that the franchise is willing to exit the draft without a player for the second consecutive year.

The Knicks could target one standout Baylor prospect

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Baylor vs Clemson
Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

One player that stands out for them is former Baylor product Yves Missi. His talent level is supreme, as he averaged 10.7 points and 1.5 blocks his freshman season at Baylor. ESPN’s latest mock draft projects the seven-footer from Cameroon to be taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 23rd pick, the pick directly behind the Knicks first of two first round draft picks.

His size and tenacity on the glass are the two most attractive traits Missi possesses. The Knicks lacked size this past season, so Missi could provide critical depth at a position the Knicks are relatively smaller in compared to other teams.

“His skills overlap with the identity that head coach Tom Thibodeau prefers in centers, as Missi is an exceptional offensive rebounder and an efficient finisher around the rim,” wrote Daily Knicks’ Zachary Bachar. “His average of 2.6 offensive rebounds per game ranked No. 4 among all players in the Big 12.”

The Knicks need to address their interior depth this offseason

One of the Knicks’ biggest priorities this summer will be to retain one of their most impactful centers in Isaiah Hartenstein. The Knicks had the luxury of having three strong centers until Mitchell Robinson went down with another injury during the postseason, but they can still have that same luxury next season by drafting Missi.

Precious Achiuwa is a free agent and Jericho Sims has a team option that will likely be declined, so Missi would be the third-string big man behind Hartenstein (if he is re-signed) and Robinson. Given Robinson’s injury history, Missi could find himself a decent amount of playing time in his first year. Sims and Achiuwa gave the Knicks depth during both of Robinson’s absences last season, which was able to positively impact both of their developments as players individually.

Therefore, Missi would serve as a great depth addition for a team that needs extra size, and could end up being more impactful to the team later in his NBA career as he develops. Missi could split time with the NBA squad and the G League team if the Knicks were to draft him, so that he gains experience in every facet despite not seeing the court in NBA games very often.

As the draft approaches, be on the lookout for the Knicks to potentially make a move and increase the depth to the roster for next season and beyond.

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