The New York Knicks have the luxury of executing several different strategies during the 2021 NBA draft. They could target a young point guard like Davion Mitchell or Jared Butler out of Baylor, but there are other players who could fit the bill for a team that needs upgrades at multiple spots, especially with several starters hitting free agency.
One interesting name that has bubbled to the surface is foreign center, Usman Garuba, out of Spain. Having played for Real Madrid, being listed at 6’8″ with a 7’3″ wingspan, the 19-year-old is considered arguably the best shot-blocker in the entire draft class. His elite defensive instincts make him an instant impact player, especially for a Tom Thibodeau lead team. He can dominate in the paint while also moving out to the perimeter and utilizing his athleticism to guard other positions.
Last season with Real Madrid, Usman averaged 4.0 points, 0.7 blocks, 4.1 rebounds, and shot 50% from the field over 38 games. He only averaged 16.5 minutes per contest, so there’s no question he would have to adapt to the NBA and playing 25+ minutes every night. However, at such a young and ripe age, he has plenty of development left to enjoy. The Knicks could easily consider him a long-term solution at center.
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla spoke to The Post about the possibility of Jared Butler being an intriguing option for the Knicks:
Another kid, depending on how he’s looked at from a medical standpoint, Jared Butler is a 6-3 point guard who is a great shooter, who is a playmaker, plays with toughness. That’s another kid who’s a 22-year-old junior who could come in and help the Knicks immediately, if they’re looking for the maturity, let’s say, of somebody that they can count on right away.
Why the Knicks could consider Butler:
Butler is another exciting option who offers a well-rounded game at the NBA level. Averaging 16.7 points, 2.0 steals, 4.8 assists, and shooting 47% from the field last season, Butler is ready to make the transition to the bigs. He also shot 41% from three, averaging 6.2 attempts per game, indicating his efficiency as a long-range shooter.
If the Knicks stick to their original selections and don’t trade up, Butler could be available at 19 or 21, but he has a few weaknesses that need to be ironed out. He projects as a secondary creating bench scorer to start his career, as he lacks the size to be a physically imposing guard. If he can add a bit more mass and physicality, he could end up being a great player moving forward, especially on the offensive side of the floor. One more positive that Jared brings, he’s a fantastic leader and exerts maximum effort.