With the 2020 NBA Season officially over after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat last Sunday in six games to secure their 17th Championship Title, NBA fans across the globe get to shift their eyes now on the approaching and exciting NBA Draft.
With the draft scheduled to take place on November 18th, this years’ draft class has a variety of special talent that has the opportunity to set the stage for the next wave of greatness to come to the NBA. Even after coming off a year where Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett entered the league with flair, finesse, and a sense of pristine talent, this draft class might be just as important if not more so than last years.
For the New York Knicks, that might be hard to believe since they had the 3rd overall pick in 2019. However, the Knicks are facing an imperative stage of their development after drafting Barrett last year. And despite receiving the 8th overall pick, a lot rests on this selection. This is mainly due to the fact that the Knicks have been able to assemble a young, core group of players that can serve as their foundation, but it’s missing a few key pieces.
At the forefront of it all, it’s pretty clear that the Knicks need another strong guard to help Barrett with the scoring duties. With Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson anchoring the paint both offensively and defensively, the Knicks need a natural playmaker at the helm of their offense that brings a healthy balance of scoring and passing.
Prior to the lottery, LaMelo Ball was surely the player the Knicks so desperately needed, but that all changed when they were granted the 8th overall pick. With Ball likely going Top 5, the Knicks would have to trade for him. And considering what kind of sacrifice that would mean for the Knicks (whether they would trade away Barrett or Randle or both), doing so might be too detrimental towards the rebuild progress they have made so far. As a result, the Knicks will most likely set their eyes on another bright talent they can add to their developing roster.
Whether the Knicks should go after a guard or forward is certainly up for debate. But when you consider the fact that the Knicks placed second to last in points per game with a 105.8 average last season, it can’t become anymore clearer just how badly they need an offensive threat on their team that can do it all (ESPN). In other words, the Knicks have their CJ McCollum but now need their Damian Lillard. And the best bet for the Knicks to fulfill that necessity with their 8th overall pick is to draft none other than the UNC freshman stud, Cole Anthony.
“What? No way, you can’t be for real. The guy whose draft stock has fallen from a potential 7th-8th overall pick to now a 14th-15th overall pick? The freshman who was sidelined for nearly two months due to a partially torn meniscus?” For every one of you who thought at least one, maybe two, or even all three of those questions in quotations, the answer is a big yes, and to an extent, is self-explanatory. With the slim odds of the Knicks landing Ball, Anthony is their next best option and for this main reason: He’s a complete, versatile, and prolific scorer and athlete that brings an unparalleled playmaking ability for his age, size, and position. Anthony uses his elusiveness, lightning quickness, and agility to break down his defenders and score at will from wherever he wants to on the floor.
Moreover, Anthony really knows how to weave in out of tight lanes with his shifty, clean dribbling skills and can draw defenders away from their assignments with ease. When this happens, his IQ and vision comes to life, and along with it, his strong passing. Believe it or not, Anthony’s most overlooked skill is his passing, which is derived from his excellent decision making. This is precisely what the Knicks need at the helm of their lineup; someone who generates the right balance between passing and scoring in order to open the floor for the rest of the team to thrive and succeed.
Essentially, when you’re that good of a scorer, it can be easy to get swept away with the obsession of fulfilling that role, even if you’re not always leading your team to victory. But the most important component to keep in mind when you’re a scoring point guard is to make sure you’re executing the best decision possible each and every time you come down the floor, whether you’re setting up a teammate or scoring it yourself. And that skill and intelligence factor of when to do what is one of Anthony’s greatest strengths as a point guard that I think the Knicks could really benefit from.
Is it concerning that he suffered a partial meniscus tear that lead him to miss roughly 8 weeks of his rookie season at UNC? Of course it is, and that remains the greatest reason as to why his draft stock has fallen in the first place (ESPN). But to be frank, it could be a lot worse and is really not as concerning as it seems. Anthony was able to come back from his injury and ended up playing quite well, putting up five 20+ point performances over his last 11 games of the season (ESPN).
In addition, with the 2020-21 season getting delayed as is, Anthony is receiving a lot more rest than the average rookie class would receive, allowing any lingering injuries to fully heal and recover.
With that said, there’s no sugar coating it: This is certainly the greatest gamble that comes along with drafting Anthony. But to put it simply, the Knicks need his skillset if they want to reach a playoff berth within the next five years. What’s important to keep in mind is that the Knicks are missing that playmaking, scoring catalyst that is vital for any team to succeed. When this franchise was eager to reach the playoffs not too long ago, they sought after another NBA star to be that spark for their team who went by the name of Carmelo Anthony. It’s been nearly a full decade since the Knicks made the playoffs with Carmelo. And if Ball doesn’t fall into their lap, the Knicks just might need to select another player that goes by the name of Anthony to get them back to the postseason once more.