The Knicks simply don’t have three roster spots to carry rookies next season as they look to take a step forward after a successful 2020-21 campaign. After focusing on the development of Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, adding a lottery prospect could be the more efficient route, which would involve the Knicks packaging their first-round selections together and moving as high as possible in the draft.
The team has the 19, 21, 32, and 58th picks, respectively. Normally, the Knicks would have top 10 selections to work with, but given their season this past year, they will be working outside the lottery for the first time in quite a while. However, ironically they find themselves looking to get back in, which is exactly what they seem to be considering.
According to Zach Harper of The Athletic, the Knicks are looking to make moves into the mid-lottery, potentially targeting an option like Baylor’s Davion Mitchell:
However, league sources tell The Athletic the Knicks are looking to package their two first-round picks to move up in the draft, possibly into the mid-lottery.
Ian Begley of SNY also commented on the possibility of this occurring a few weeks ago, so clearly, it’s a thought running through the front office:
That’s a question some agents with players in New York’s range are asking. They don’t see the Knicks keeping all of their early picks (**No. 19, No. 21, No. 32).
Several opposing teams with picks near New York’s feel the same way.
“I can’t see them carrying three rookies on the roster (next year),” a member of an opposing organization said this week.
Draft targets in the lottery for the Knicks:
1.) Davion Mitchell
One option that could fit the bill perfectly for Tom Thibodeau and his style is Davion Mitchell out of Baylor, who represents an elite defender right out of the gates.
Mitchell also has plenty of offensive potential, averaging 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists last year as a junior. He also shot 51.1% from the field and 44.7% from three over 4.7 attempts. Based on his shooting success this past year, he represents plenty of potential at the NBA level, and the Knicks have the draft capital to make a move up and snag him. He might be a perfect complement to Derrick Rose next season, learning the game and slowly developing his offense without being put in a disadvantageous position.
2.) Sharife Cooper
Some compare Sharife Cooper to players like Chris Paul and Trae Young, given his natural scoring instincts and elite passing. Cooper has all the traits to be a fantastic player at the NBA level, and his stock is quickly rising after an impressive combine.
During his lone season with Auburn last year, he averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and shot 39% from the field. While he’s a bit undersized and shot only 23% from three, most believe he’s a better shooter than his statistics indicate, and his ability to act as a floor general is exactly what New York is looking for.
3.) James Bouknight
Another player that has been connected to New York in recent days is University of Connecticut shooting guard James Bouknight. At 6’5” and 190 pounds, he’s a good, shifty athlete who can get to the rim with ease and use his length to defend adequately. He is a solid rebounder and was coined one of the best scorers in the entire country. He can activate a quality pull-up shot, and hesitation moves heading to the basket.
ESPN has him projected as a scoring guard, which is something the Knicks could use this upcoming season.