Leon Rose’s rise to power in New York to become the Knicks president was built on pure hustle. But in one of the early tests of his leadership, the rookie executive will have to rely on beginner’s luck.
Tasked to lead the uphill climb of the moribund franchise, Rose hopes he could start cutting the string of bad luck beginning with the NBA Draft Lottery tonight.
Rose will represent the Knicks on the virtual lottery “dais’’ via Zoom, which will be aired at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN from the NBA headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey.
The Knicks have struck out in the NBA Draft Lottery since picking Patrick Ewing as the No. 1 overall pick in 1985. That could change tonight if Rose proves to be the team’s lucky charm.
With the sixth-worst record (21-45) in the pandemic-shortened regular season, New York has a nine percent chance of winning the lottery trailing only Golden State, Cleveland, Minnesota, Atlanta, and Detroit.
They also have 27.6 percent chance of moving into the top three.
In an NBA Draft that is lacking in consensus top pick, the Knicks are hoping to move up to be able to land an impact talent to either add to their young core or use as trade bait.
Top point guard LaMelo Ball, wingman Anthony Edwards, and big man James Wiseman are expected to figure in a three-way race for the top pick with the decision most likely to go down in terms of fit and need.
“It’s interesting, this draft, there’s a couple of guys that might stand out, and after that, I think there’s a lot of equality,’’ Rose said in his first interview with MSG Network in June.
“I think there’s a lot of guys that are close with different skill sets, different positives, different negatives. It’s funny, each scout, there are varying opinions. A lot more varying opinions than in past years,” he added.
Without the benefit of personal workouts due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Knicks will have to rely on the intel from their scouts and from their new assistant general manager, Walter Perrin, who is expected to have a strong voice in their war room along with current GM Scott Perry. Perrin, the long-time Jazz executive, is widely credited for Utah’s solid picks in the past.
It appears that the Knicks are going all-in with player development judging on their recent assistant coaching hires (Kenny Payne and Johnnie Bryant). So there is a great chance that they will hold on to their lottery pick unless a trade that can advance their timeline comes up.
If they strike out anew, they might explore trading up or choose the next best available talent that fits their needs. Outside the looming top three picks, there’s still plenty of options from the group which Rose said to have parity in quality.
Deni Advija, Onyeka Okongwu, Precious Achiuwa, Killian Hayes, Obi Toppin Isaac Okoru, Cole Anthony, Tyrese Haliburton, and Devin Vassell could still be available by the time the they make their pick.
The Knicks have a total of three picks in this year’s Draft. On top of its lottery pick, they have the 27th pick in the first round via Los Angeles Clippers (from Marcus Morris deadline trade) and Charlotte’s 38th pick in the second round.