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.

Wide-open NBA Draft favors Knicks, says college basketball analyst

New York Knicks, Killian Hayes

Even without a top-three pick, there’s a chance the New York Knicks could still end up with the best player in this year’s NBA Draft.

That’s the belief of former St. John’s head coach turned ESPN college analyst Fran Fraschilla when he appeared on Michael Kay Show over the weekend.

“First of all, there’s no clear-cut no.1, there’s no consensus no.1, there’s no clear-cut NBA superstar in this Draft just yet but I will remind you guys that this is like 2013 when Anthony Bennett went no.1 and there was a kid by the name of (Giannis) Antetokounmpo that was taken No.15 by the Milwaukee Bucks.  Now, there’s nobody like that in this draft but quite honestly, I don’t care if you’re picking 1, 2, 3 all the way down to 15, you can get a guy, the Knicks can find somebody at eight [pick] that could end up being the best player in this Draft,” Fraschilla said.

The Knicks’ current roster has glaring holes everywhere, but with team president Leon Rose viewing last season lottery pick RJ Barrett and rim protector Mitchell Robinson as cornerstones of the franchise, the growing belief is that the most pressing concern is finding a lead point guard.

Whether they can find that player in the Draft, in the free agency or within the current roster, is a matter of internal debate according to a source familiar with the Knicks’ front office thinking.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported earlier today that the Knicks, along with the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons, are among the teams expected to bid for Toronto Raptors breakout star Fred Van Vleet, the top point guard in an underwhelming free-agent class.

The Knicks currently have a point guard rotation of Elfrid Payton, Frank Nkitilina, and Dennis Smith, Jr., all former lottery picks, who have not panned out.  But after acquiring Kenny Payne and Johnnie Bryant to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff, the sense is that they will attempt to develop their current players to get more value on the court and possibly in the trade market.

LaMelo Ball, who is the Knicks’ top point guard in their board as early as May, is not expected to drop outside the top three.  The team has also conducted an interview with Killian Hayes, the top playmaker among international prospects. The Knicks, in typical Rose’s fashion, is doing their due diligence and is said to be considering all options.

Several mock drafts have yielded different results for the Knicks at no.8, bolstering Fraschilla’s observation.

Under normal circumstances, the Knicks and the other 29 teams could have a better grasp of most of their targets in the NCAA tournament and validate that intel during their in-person workouts and interviews. But even if they missed out on that, Fraschilla believes that some teams have already pegged the best players in their boards.

“Hopefully, Rose and the Knicks are one of those teams but there are kids who are going to be available at eight —Tyrese Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, Saddiq Bey.  There are guys that are gonna be hanging around in this draft that could end up at eight being the best player in this Draft,” Fraschilla said.  “The Knicks just have to find that guy.”

It is interesting to note that Haliburton is being represented by CAA while Okongwu and Bey are with Excel Sports.

In recent memory, the Knicks have been unlucky at no.8.  Since 2005, they have taken three players with the eight pick— Channing Frye (2005), Jordan Hill (2009), and Nkitilina (2017)— without much success.

Can Rose turn the Knicks’ lottery pick into a ‘Lucky 8’ this time?

Fraschilla is optimistic: “There’s a new regime. I’m confident that these guys know what they’re doing.”