Knicks Draft Watch: John Calipari warns NBA teams not to sleep on Immanuel Quickley

The New York Knicks have met Kentucky Wildcat Immanuel Quickley twice ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft. 

Devin Booker and Tyler Herro were two of the most recent former University of Kentucky guards who got overlooked in the NBA Draft.

Immanuel Quickley is poised to be the next sleeper in the Draft from Hall of Fame coach John Calipari’s program.

“Immanuel Quickley was the Player of the Year in our league. He’s right up there with the hardest workers spending the most time in the gym, most committed players that I’ve ever had,” Calipari told Empire Sports Media via Zoom call. “You better give him a second, third, or fourth look before you pass on him because he’s another one.”

Booker and Herro were selected 13th overall in the 2015 and 2019 NBA Draft, respectively. And they have both outplayed their draft position.

With Herro’s rousing rookie season still fresh in league scouts and executives’ minds, the sweet-shooting Quickley has seen his draft stock rise with more and more teams showing strong interest recently.

According to his trainer and former AAU coach Jide Sodipo, Quickley has talked to almost all NBA teams except the Portland Trail Blazers.

And of the 29 teams, Quickley has already interviewed twice with the Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, and the Miami Heat.

“They were trying to find out more about his character. Not only about basketball. What kind of a young man he is,” Sodipo told Empire Sports Media over the phone. “And as far as the Knicks are concerned, I think they know more about him more than anybody team in the NBA.”

Of course, the Knicks have former Kentucky lead assistant and chief recruiter Kenny Payne in their fold. Payne has the intel that might help persuade the Knicks front office to take a gamble on Quickley’s potential.

Quickley could be in play for the Knicks’ 27th or even 38th pick if he’s still on board. But Sodipo has a firm belief that his ward won’t last past the first round.

In most scouting reports, Quickly is a scoring guard with a knack for hitting the outside shot. It’s the same type of profile that has made Herro a riser in last year’s NBA Draft.

“He (Immanuel) spaces the court because he’s making threes. It’s what everybody knows. It’s where the league is going right now? You better be able to make threes. If you can’t, you better have some unbelievable talent; you better have ESP or something like that if you can’t shoot. The game has changed,” Calipari said.

Quickley further cemented his status as a reliable scorer when he ended his collegiate career with 20 consecutive double-digit scoring games — the longest streak by a Wildcat since Malik Monk (30) in 2016-17.  On top of that, he has also hit at least one three-pointer in his last 11 games, including a career-high eight on his way to a 30-point performance in a 69-60 win against Texas A&M last February.

Quickley has the shooting skill to carve out a role in the modern NBA. But he is more than just a shooter, according to Sodipo.

“People don’t understand that he was a pass-first point guard all of his life. He loves to share the ball and bring out the best in his teammates. But you know, when you go to a school like Kentucky, you have to sacrifice,” Sodipo explained. “Sometimes, you have to play a role. That’s what’s asked of you. What he did was he made the most out of it.”

To better understand and appreciate Quickley, you have to look at the roster makeup of the Wildcats.

During Quickley’s freshman year, Kentucky had a crowded backcourt with Hagans, Herro, and Quade Green.

Then in his sophomore year, Tyrese Maxey came in. Both Maxey (29.2 percent) and Hagans (25.8 percent) didn’t shoot well from the outside, and Quickley quickly jumped into the opportunity.

“Last year we went to three guards. I wasn’t doing that early in the year, but as the year went on, I just said, ‘Immanuel Quickley, he needs to be starting.’ That means somebody else couldn’t start. [Quickley] ended up being Player of the Year in our league, but he trusted me to figure it out.” Calipari said.

After averaging just 5.2 points per game as a freshman, Quickley led the Wildcats in scoring (16.1 ppg), made 3-pointers (62), 3-point percentage (.428), free throws made (144), attempted (156), and free throw percentage (.923) during as a sophomore to become the fifth SEC Player of the Year under Calipari.

That’s part of the myth surrounding former Wildcats who have exploded in the NBA. Because Calipari’s program has been perennially loaded with talent, players like Booker, Herro, Bam Adebayo, and now Quickley have been victims of circumstances that, in a way, held their game back.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why Quickley has the “Sleeper” tag.

“He brings more to the game than just his shooting.  You’ve only seen around 50 or 60 percent of his game [in college], I can tell you. And that’s gonna surprise a lot of people,” Sodipo said.

 

Quickley can get hot quickly on offense. He could find a role similar to what Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams have perfected in their respective long NBA careers — offensive spark off the bench.

Defensively, Quickley has the length (6’9 and 3/4″ wingspan from his Draft Combine measurement last week) and the quickness to be a disruptor.

If there’s anyone who knows Quickley’s game in and out, it’s Sodipo, who’s been coaching Quickley since 2015.

“He can handle the ball. He’s a true point guard that can score. He has a great basketball IQ. He’s great in pick and roll. He’s a great defender and can rebound, and that’s his game that people don’t know unless you really watch his game and go back to his freshman year, his high school years,” Sodipo said.

Quickley was a decorated high school player and was one of the nation’s top point guards. He was a McDonald’s All-American and the 10th best prospect by Rivals.com and 12th by ESPN coming out of high school in 2017.

In his sophomore year, he hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to lead The John Carroll School Patriots to a 51–50 win over Mount Saint Joseph High School in the Baltimore Catholic League championship. He earned All-Metro Player of the Year recognition.

In his junior year, he averaged 23.7 points and 7.2 assists per game and was named to the First Team All-Metro. As a senior, he normed 20.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 3.7 steals per game and led the team to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.

He was a shotmaker and a playmaker in high school, but he had to adjust his game in college to fit within Kentucky’s system.

Throughout the years, Sodipo has come to know Quickley deeper than everybody else in the 21-year old’s basketball circle.

“He’s a special young man, very focused. He’s a young man that really loves the game,” Sodipo said.

Quickley comes from a family with a reputable background that speaks volumes of his character.

“His mother is a high school principal. His father is a church minister,” Sodipo said.

Quickley’s faith and a balanced lifestyle have helped him navigate a bumpy collegiate career where he understood that he had to earn his spot despite being a five-star recruit out of high school.

“He’s always in the gym, getting better at his craft. He’s somebody that he wants to get better,” Sodipo said.

“But when he was growing up, he’s played drums and other musical instruments. He’s been studious and religious. He’s a really fine, talented young man.”

Quickley checks all the boxes for teams looking for a high-character guy who has NBA skills to match.

Sodipo has been training him non-stop in a private gym just five minutes from the Quickley’s residence.

“We’ve been working on his game, getting stronger, working on his strength and conditioning, shooting, ball handling, passing drills and everything,” Sodipo said.

Quickley is determined to prove to everyone that he’s more than just a shooter and a sleeper in this unpredictable Draft class.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks Draft Watch: John Calipari views Tyrese Maxey as smaller version of Jamal Murray

In the 2016 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks missed out on a big-time scoring guard from the University of Kentucky, the leading producer of NBA stars.

The Knicks’ lottery pick that year was earlier sent to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade. The Nuggets used the Knicks’ original pick (seventh overall) to select former Wildcat Jamal Murray.

Murray, as it turned out, is the real deal and he quickly became one of the league’s rising stars. The Denver Nuggets guard’s sensational play in the NBA Bubble has left team executives who passed on him scratching their heads.

This year, another big-time scorer under John Calipari’s program has entered the NBA Draft. One-and-done freshman Tyrese Maxey could be the answer to the Knicks’ backcourt riddle with his dynamic scoring and moxie.

“I’m trying to tell everybody when you look at Tyrese, he’s a smaller version, but he’s still 6’2”, of Jamal Murray who is 6’5”. They both have that lower release. Everybody said Jamal would never get it off,” Calipari told Empire Sports Media during his Zoom call with select media on Monday.

Murray though came into the Draft as a projected top-five Lottery pick but somehow slipped a couple of notches down because of doubts whether he was athletic enough to thrive in the league.

He proved all the skeptics wrong as his game and his low released shot translated well in the NBA.

Maxey isn’t viewed as highly as Murray was. Most boards have Maxey as a late lottery pick in a Draft that has become as unpredictable as it hasn’t been in recent years. Aside from his apparent lack of size (6’1″ without shoes and with only 6’6″ wingspan), Maxey is facing the same questions Murray had in 2016.

“Jamal played with Tyler Ulis so [people] said, is he a point guard? They’re point guards. We’re teaching them to play with the ball and without the ball. And now it becomes: do they make game-winning shots? Are they that guy? Tyrese is,” said Calipari.

With the NBA heading into positionless basketball, Calipari believes Maxey’s switchability as a combo guard could work well to his advantage. He has the skills and speed to run the point and he has the moxie and court smarts to play off the ball.

Maxey proved early on that he has the chops of Calipari’s typical dynamic guard when he dropped 26 points in his college debut at the Madison Square Garden against Michigan State.

He went on to average 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game before the college season was cut short. He shot 42.7% from the field, 29.2% from three, and 83.3% from the stripes.

It wasn’t fancy particularly his shooting percentage from deep but the eye test suggests his impact on the game was way bigger than those numbers. Another reason for that, Calipari explained, is because Maxey played within the system just like the way Murray, and earlier, Devin Booker did that made them somewhat underrated ahead of the Draft. 

While Maxey is two inches shorter than those two former Kentucky guards, he possesses the same characteristics that make him such an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling.

Calipari pointed those out but also acknowledged the area where Maxey should focus on to reach his ceiling.

“Tyrese, physically, athletically and you know he’s a guy who’s blocking shots, rebounding the ball, has played dribble-drive and a downhill runner his whole life,” Calipari said. “He has to be more consistent with his shooting so did Jamal. But they played similar (roles) here.”

While it’s a pity that Maxey was robbed of the opportunity to show more of his wares on the big stage when the SEC and NCAA were scrapped, his body of work from high school, AAU to Team USA would be enough to tell you he’s got a chance to be special.

Before he went to Kentucky, he teamed up with Draft classmate Cole Anthony in the Team USA that obliterated the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas Championship.

Maxey averaged 8.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists against 0.5 turnovers, and 1.3 steals in 18 minutes. Anthony, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, averaged 14.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists against 2.7 turnovers, and 1.2 steals in 21 minutes.

During his short-lived stay at Kentucky, Maxey was on a tear late in the season, scoring 20 or more points five times before the stoppage.

“There are gonna be people who’ll pass on Tyrese that will regret liked how they passed on PJ (Washington) like how they passed on Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), Jamal (Murray) and we can keep going,” Calipari said. “He’s gonna be that (type of player).”

Mike Schmitz, ESPN’s resident NBA Draft Analyst, shared the same view with Calipari when he appeared on Sports Center with Scott Van Pelt last week.

“He didn’t have eye-popping numbers at Kentucky. He was under 50 percent from 2, under 30 percent from 3, but you have to play a role there. You have to fit in. Coach Cal does a tremendous job of forcing these guys to buy into a role. It’s about winning for the team and you sacrifice there and that’s exactly what Maxey did,” Schmitz said.

But the one thing that stuck out on Schmitz is that Maxey is a big-time scorer.

“This kid is a bucket. I saw him at the high school level, I saw him with USA Basketball, and I think he’s a perfect fit in today’s NBA. You can try to poke holes in him. You can try to say, ‘He’s a 6-3 combo guard. He’s a scorer or he’s out of control.’ But it’s worked pretty well for Tyler Herro, for Jamal Murray, for Devin Booker.”

That type of dynamic scoring has been sorely lacking on the Knicks backcourt for the longest time now.

Calipari didn’t go into specifics about the Knicks’ interest in Maxey. But a  highly-placed source in Kentucky said that Calipari has been constantly talking to the Knicks.

During the course of Calipari’s interview, the well-decorated coach revealed that his travel was limited by the pandemic but noted that his only out-of-town trip so far was to New Jersey.

Knicks’ team president Leon Rose is from Cherry Hills, New Jersey while his good friend and senior advisor William “World Wide Wes” Wesley hails from Camden, New Jersey.

Calipari has strong ties with the Knicks front office, and more so with his former top deputy and key recruiter Kenny Payne who is now one of Tom Thibodeau’s assistant coaches.

Maxey should be available by the time the Knicks would pick at No. 8 based on most Mock Drafts. But he’s also a trade-down candidate as reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops, meanwhile, views Maxey in a different light.

“I see (Tyrese) Maxey being a solid complementary role player at the next level, whereas (Jamal) Murray is a dynamic player and one of the NBA’s rising young stars,” Babcock told Empire Sports Media. “Murray is just in an entirely different category altogether.”

Babcock Hoops has Maxey at No. 28 in their Mock Draft. It’s going to be a big surprise if Maxey gets picked inside the Top 10.

“I do not think the Knicks should consider Maxey with the 8th pick. It would be too high in the draft for him, in my opinion. I actually think Maxey would be a more appropriate option for the Knicks with the 27th pick, if he were there, of course,” Babcock said.

Maxey has shades of Murray in his game. But there are also glaring questions that he must address.

Only time will tell if Maxey can hold up to Murray’s comparisons.

But as Murray’s game became bigger and louder in the recent NBA Bubble, it’s hard to imagine that this new front office given their link to Kentucky and Calipari would pass up on the opportunity to get a player of the same caliber.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks Draft Watch: What is the value of the top two picks?

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

LaMelo Ball has added more fuel to the fire when he said on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby Show Wednesday that he has spoken to only two teams thus far: the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.

The 6-foot-7 point guard has been on top of the Knicks’ Draft Board since May according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Meanwhile, Ian Begley of SNY recently reported that some NBA teams believe that the Knicks have been trying to move up in the Draft.

If the Knicks have their eyes on Ball, what could move the needle for them to get to the top of the Draft?

 

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, executives around the NBA believe the Minnesota Timberwolves will shop the top overall pick for a win-now player. The Warriors are also in the same boat, hoping that they could snag a key piece to augment the loss of Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala.

But ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks believes the value of the Wolves and Warriors’ top two selections have decreased relatively owing to the unpredictability of this Draft class.

“I don’t believe you can get an All-Star back. It’s a lot different compared to last year,” Marks told Empire Sports Media.

Last year, Zion Williamson was the consensus top pick. This year, it’s unclear.

Ball, swingman Anthony Edwards, and big man James Wiseman have routinely figured out on top of several Mock Drafts and Draft Boards.

Trading draft picks have been tricky. Because there’s an unknown variable involved.

Revisiting past trades involving top picks might give us a better appraisal of the Timberwolves and Warriors’ picks.

The last time the No. 1 pick was traded happened in 2017 with the Philadelphia 76ers moving up from No. 3 to select Markelle Fultz. In return, the Celtics received the No. 3 pick (Jayson Tatum) and a future first-round pick which turned out to be Romeo Langford, last year’s No. 14 selection.

The following year, another Draft Day trade involving a top-three pick had a major impact. The Atlanta Hawks traded down from No. 3 to No. 5 to get an additional draft pick and selected sharp-shooter Trae Young.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, went on to pick Luka Doncic, who finished in the top five of the MVP balloting this season. The additional draft pick which the Hawks got in the trade turned out to be Cam Reddish, last year’s No. 10 selection.

Those cases, however, don’t apply to the Knicks, who are at the bottom half of the lottery. For the Knicks to move up into the top two, they will have to give more compensations than what the 76ers and the Mavericks have sent out.

The Knicks have the Draft capital, having six first-round picks starting next year until 2023 to choose from to add to their current No. 8 pick in a trade package. But they don’t have the win-now player which both the Timberwolves and the Warriors seek in a trade.

The last time an All-Star was involved in a trade for a No. 1 pick occurred in 2014 when the Cleveland Cavaliers sent No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love in a larger three-team trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

In addition to Wiggins, Minnesota also received Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, and a trade exception while the 76ers got Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved, and a future first-rounder which turned out to be Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (24th pick in 2016 NBA Draft).

As complicated as it is to pull off a multiple-team trade, it’s the more plausible way for the Knicks to convince ironically the Timberwolves or the Warriors to part way with their picks.

Vassell, Williams on the Knicks radar; NBA Draft pushed back

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks are not exclusively looking at point guards for their lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

The Knicks, who are slated to pick at No.8 barring any trade, have recently looked at two intriguing prospects that will be available at the second half of the lottery.

Empire Sports Media has learned yesterday that the Knicks have made their due diligence on Florida State University’s 3-and-D prospect Devin Vassell along with his one-and-done teammate Patrick Williams, the youngest college player in the Draft.

According to a highly placed source, the Knicks made a thorough background check on both players which wasn’t only confined to the coaching staff.

When reached for comment, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton neither confirmed nor denied the Knicks’ growing interest in his two-star players.

“[I’ve talked to] Just about everybody in the league who has the opportunity [to pick them]. I am saying, we’ve three kids who we think we’re going to be drafted, so about just every NBA team.  To be honest with you, it’s hard to even remember who all they were.  We’ve talked to so many teams about Trent Forrest, Patrick and Devin,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media. “I’m not going to give particular names out there.”

A two-way player and a lights out shooter, the 6’6 Vassell could be the safest pick for the Knicks outside a motley of playmakers that will be available to them at No.8.

Vassell has blossomed from a role player as a freshman to a lottery talent in his sophomore year. The small forward made the All-ACC Second Team Selection after averaging a team-high 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds with second-best 1.9 steals and 0.9 shot blocks.  He also shot an outstanding 41.5 percent from deep, a valuable skill in the modern NBA, while leading the Seminoles to their first ACC regular-season title in 2020.

Several Mock Drafts have pegged him to be picked from as high as 8th to as low as 16th.

“Devin is going to play well regardless of where he goes and the coach he’ll play for.  He’s well prepared. I don’t think it matters [which team picks him].  He’s capable of learning whatever style of play he’ll be asked to do,” Hamilton said. 

Williams, on the other hand, is just the third one-and-done player from FSU after Malik Beasley (2016) and Jonathan Isaac 2017). He was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team and won the ACC Sixth Man of the Year after averaging a fourth team-best 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds, a team-best 1.1 blocked shots, and 1.0 steal.

“He’s young, one of the youngest in the Draft. But I think he’ll fit in very well because he’s so versatile and he has an NBA-ready body,” Hamilton said of Williams.

While Williams is seen more as a project, he has a high upside as a 6’8 power forward who can defend basically all positions in the NBA.

Both players have also made it to the ACC Academic Honor Roll with Vassell making it for the second year in a row.

Hamilton, a three-time ACC Coach of the Year, has pride himself of having a holistic approach to his basketball program.

“We hold academics with a high esteem and our athletes have responded very well,” Hamilton said.

Whether the Knicks would pick Vassell or Williams or somebody else, Hamilton has faith in Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff that they can turn things around in New York.

“I know Kenny (Payne), I know (Mike) Woodson.  I know a lot of positive things about Thibodeau. I have a tremendous respect for him. I think he’ll (Johnnie Bryant) be a great addition to the staff,” Hamilton said.

“I have a lot of confidence that the new administration at the Knicks will be determined and they are more than qualified.  I think they will do everything to bring back the Knicks’ glory days of the past,” he added.

Meanwhile, the league has pushed back the NBA Draft to Nov. 18 which remains subject to change as circumstances warrant it.

The delay will allow more time for the Knicks and the rest of the league to evaluate the Draft pool which is viewed as the most unpredictable since 2013.

The Stage Is Set For Unusually Smart Decision Making By The New York Knicks Front Office

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

On Thursday, August 20th, many New York Knick fans witnessed their beloved team fall two spots into the lap of the eighth overall pick of the upcoming NBA Draft on October 16th, 2020. Many were hurt once they noticed the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and the Charlotte Hornets had occupied the first three overall picks respectively.

Many diehard Knick fans voiced their displeasure on Twitter along with many other social media platforms by accusing the NBA Draft of being “rigged” and “fixed”. However, it’s very possible that in a non top-heavy draft, picking eighth may be the best thing to happen to the New York Knickerbockers this year especially under a special player development and savvy basketball minded staff.

Despite the displeasure from New York Knick fans, the jokes from anti-Knick fans, along with more jokes from anti-Knick sources, the New York Knicks front office might actually have fun this draft without the pressure of choosing a top-three draft pick which could potentially handcuff an organization to certain talents, which might not even be the true desired pick for the vision of the president and General Manager. It’s very possible to land great talent with two opportunities in the first round of this year’s draft. Knicks have the eighth and the twenty-seventh first-round picks.

Some at MSG are fans of FSU’s Devin Vassell according to Ian Begley.

Devin Vassell could be the perfect plug and play draft pick for the New York Knicks. Tom Thibodeau enjoys coaching high defensive IQ players with motor and toughness. Devin Vassell’s style fits the bill. In addition to Vassell’s individual and team defense he displayed in Florida State University under Coach Leonard Hamilton, the first coach to be named coach of the year in both the Big East and ACC, Vassell has shown improvement on his off the dribble shooting and his three-point shooting.

Vassell averaged 12.7-points per contest along with 1.4-steals last season for FSU. Devin Vassell at 6’6″ along with his 6’10” wingspan could be the perfect 3&D prospect for the Knicks moving forward alongside Frank Ntilikina and RJ Barrett. With an improved Mitchell Robinson playing center, the addition of Vassell would enhance the Knicks defensively under Tom Thibodeau with even more room for future growth collectively.

Kira Lewis Jr. is another special talent who very much may become the Knicks new starting point guard next season under Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Payne, and Mike Woodson. The ultra speedy 6’3″ 165lbs sophomore point-guard out of Alabama averaged a solid 18.5-points along with 5.2-assists last season. Lewis also averaged 4.8-rebounds per contest last season for Alabama. Kira Lewis Jr. is a menace on the fast-break, a category the Knicks struggle with. The former Alabama Crimson Tide speedster’s shot creation, on-ball defense, and playmaking skills would help the Knicks tremendously for years to come. Plus, a Kira Lewis Jr., Mitchell Robinson pick and roll would be something to watch for us Knick fans. Expert player developmental coach Johnny Bryant would help Kira Lewis tremendously.

“And with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Saddiq Bey from Villanova University!” Those same exact words may come from Adam Silvers mouth during the virtual edition of the NBA Draft if the NBA chooses to announce the picks similar to the traditional way. Saddiq Bey is a very intriguing prospect.

The 6’8″ 220lbs prospect out of Villanova possesses a 6’10” wingspan and he’s a deadly three-point shooter. Energy, motor, unselfishness, and defensive versatility sums up what makes Saddiq Bey an intriguing prospect for the New York Knicks. Bey’s ability to stretch the floor as a small forward or power forward is crucial for the Knicks and will not go unnoticed by the Knick front office. A smart individual and team defender who’s versatile enough to guard a variety of players at different positions would be an excellent addition for a Tom Thibodeau coached team. His solid lateral foot speed and high defensive IQ would be accepted amongst the Knick fan base.

The New York Knicks don’t need the top pick in this year’s uncertain draft. With an established front office, the Knicks are easily positioned to win the draft with savvy additions without the need of a “big named prospect”. The Knicks are building a sturdy foundation for the future and aligning the front office with the head coach seems like a huge step in the right direction. Dolan, be patient, and don’t be pressured by the media or fans. Trusting the right process is crucial, and the Knicks decision making under the new regime hasn’t disappointed thus far.

The stage is set for some unusually smart decision making by the New York Knicks. With the additions of Andy Greer, Dice Yoshimoto, Mike Woodson, Kenny Payne, and Johnny Bryant, the Knicks are slowly putting Head Coach Tom a Thibodeau in a place where he can succeed. Alan Hahn stated similar sentiments on Twitter.

Leon Rose and the Knicks have built a coaching and culture foundation. The construction isn’t nearly finished, however. The basketball court next season will evaluate the development of the youngsters on both the main Knicks squad along with the Westchester Knicks.

Can Leon Rose turn New York Knicks pick to ‘Lucky 8’?

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

There was no beginner’s luck for New York Knicks team president Leon Rose.

Not even a lucky bracelet with the inscription “We Are One” from their cancer-stricken super fan Antonio Sellers could help Rose break the team’s Draft Lottery curse Thursday night.

Armed with the sixth-best chance to win the Lottery, the Knicks struck out anew and even fell two spots down. They settled with the eight pick, extending their long streak of not moving up in the NBA Draft to 17.

Minnesota grabbed the chance to select at No. 1 with Golden State, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Detroit to pick ahead of New York.

With a Draft Class relatively weaker than the previous years and with the absence of personal workouts due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s going to be a tricky selection process.

This early, the Timberwolves and the Warriors are hinting that they are not closing their doors on trading their picks.

“We have an open mind as we go through all of this,” Minnesota team president Gersson Rosas per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “We want to do what’s best for this organization. And it means being thorough, being diligent and looking at every option. Draft, trade, free agency, whatever the case may be.”

The Warriors, meanwhile, don’t have any idea yet what to do or what can they get in return for their second pick.

“We don’t really know anything at this point…I have no idea what the value is for that pick… We don’t entirely control the draft but all we have to like is two guys to be happy,” Warriors GM Bob Myers per 97.5 The Game.

This gives the Knicks a chance to move up for LaMelo Ball, the top point guard in their Draft Board. But everything will still depend if they can come up with the package that these teams in win-now mode would be looking for.

There’s also a scenario where they can attach the eight pick in a package for larger trade to get a disgruntled star or a solid veteran that can move the needle. 

Rose has been prudent and calculating with his recent front office moves and coaching hires. It is expected that he will do the same with his first Draft.

Even if they stand pat, they still can get a point guard at eight pick. With Ball and top international prospect Killian Hayes likely to be picked early, the Knicks can settle with the likes of Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Duke standout, and ex-Knick Greg Anthony’s son Cole Anthony or Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey.

They can also opt for the next best available talent regardless of position.

Rose will have multiple options, and this is where his assistant GM and lead college scout Walter Perrin’s intel becomes valuable. Perhaps Perrin can find another hidden gem in the mold of a Gordon Hayward (2010 9th pick) or a Donovan Mitchell (2017 13th pick) from the Draft.

Rose may have run out of luck in the Lottery, but the lawyer-agent turned basketball executive knows how to grind and hustle to get what he wants.

Way-too-early New York Knicks 2020 draft

The New York Knicks and the rest of the NBA have not started training camp.  But, sports networks can’t help themselves by getting out mock drafts for the 2020 draft.

Yesterday, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony put out his mock draft of the top NBA prospects via their Intsagram.  He had the Knicks in the top 3, again, and selecting LaMelo Ball.  Ball currently is the point guard for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League (NBL).

Before fans overreact, which some may already done, it is just a mock.  A way-too-early mock.  Ball is getting a lot of hype from his play in the NBL.  Their league is currently still in the pre-season and he had 14 points in their debut.

Some even believe that Ball can potentially be the number one overall pick.

The skill set and talent is there, but with that comes extra baggage.  His father.  LaVar Ball will bring a lot of unwanted attention and distractions to whatever team his youngest son goes to.  We all saw how he acted and all the comments he had when LaMelo’s brother, Lonzo, was a Los Angeles Laker.  What makes you think it would be any different if LaMelo landed in New York, the other biggest basketball market.

However, lets not jump the gun here.  It only a mock and one to not be taken seriously before the latest NBA season has even begun.  But, basketball heads love it and can’t get enough of it.

In reality, even if the Knicks did have another top 3 pick and LaMelo was available, they would not select him.  His a 6’7″ point guard and the Knicks do not need anymore point guards.

The Knicks will be juggling 3-4 point guards this season as it is.  Why add another one?  But the main reason is the Knicks do not need anymore unwanted, outside distractions.  Especially, when they are finally moving in the right direction to turn around the franchises identity.