With The NBA draft coming up tomorrow, June 25, the Knicks, yet again, find themselves in a position without any definitive answers. The lottery was unfavorable, landing the Knicks the 4th overall pick even though they were the second worst team in the league. A couple problems with the current state of the Knicks are that fans do not trust Phil Jackson right now, the Knicks dropped 2 picks in the lottery, and there isn’t any clear-cut player that they have their eye on. Trading down and banking on free agency would be foolish. So the Knicks need to keep cool on draft day, and take Emmanuel Mudiay.
Jahlil Okafor and Karl Anthony Towns will be the top 2 picks in some order. That is pretty set-in-stone, but the Knicks are up in the air with who they will take at 4, because the 76ers are slotted in front of them. This is good news though. There are two tiers consisting of two players each in this year’s draft class. Top tier is the centers Jahlil Okafor and Karl Anthony Towns. The second tier is the guards Deangelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay. This is good for the Knicks because another franchise, the Philadelphia 76ers, have to make a big decision at number 3 overall meaning that the last man standing will fall right into the Knicks hands. The Knicks are not going to have to make any tough, potentially regrettable decisions.
In the months leading up to the draft, there has been a lot of talk about how questionable Mudiay is, and thus his draft stock has fallen. Let me tell you, Emmanuel Mudiay is a beast. If you haven’t seen what he can do, go type his name in on YouTube and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I like him more than Deangelo Russell, even though he didn’t go to college. That scares some people, and if that isn’t enough of a problem, he only played 12 games in China because he was injured. So right off the bat there are 2 big no-no’s in a lot of fans minds. However, like I said, this dude is a beast. A top 10 recruit out of high school bound for Larry Brown’s SMU team, he decided to play abroad so he could sign a contract and have a nice pay day in order to help his struggling family. He would fit the Knicks perfectly because he is more of a versatile combo guard rather than a true point guard. He is also an athletic freak that can get the ball to the rack and defend point guards and shooting guards. He averaged 18 PPG 6.2 RPG 5.9 APG and 1.58 SPG in games played abroad. He reminds me a little bit of John Wall due to his athletic prowess, his defensive ability, and his offensive nature coming into the draft. Like Wall, he prefers to attack the rim rather than settle for outside jumpers. And the Knicks have depth at the guard position already to help him progress. Experienced Jose Calderon is not the long term answer, but the potential Langston Galloway-Emmanuel Mudiay tandem could work around Carmelo Anthony. The 2nd team all-rookie Galloway will be a serviceable guard in the NBA for years to come. He already got the endorsement from head coach Derek Fisher who sees a lot of himself in Galloway (side note: I am a student at Saint Joe’s so I am a little biased and love me some Langston Galloway. He is a hard worker, a system player who is very coachable and does not have a big ego). Another reason to draft a guard: the plethora of power forwards/centers in this coming free agency. The Knicks have cap space and are going to sign a big man in the offseason. It would be a different story if the Knicks had a top two pick and could solve their post problem in the draft, but that isn’t the case and there is no reason to force a big man into the #4 draft spot.
Another story leading up to the draft, Kristaps Porzingis. A 7’1” European big man. He is not worth the risk at number 4 overall. There is no reason the Knicks should take this guy. While writing this piece, I am actually watching the re-run of the 2001 NBA draft and I feel like Porzingis has Darko Milicic all over him. Who? Exactly. You probably didn’t even realize that he was actually drafted in 2003. He was taken #2 overall in the 2003 draft taken ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Tall, European big-man with outside shooting ability, nifty post moves but limited strength down low. This seems to be the intriguing description for a lot of European players, however per Jay Bilas, since 2002, 19 International players have been drafted in the lottery, none of which have made an NBA All-Star game. I want to put the Porzingis talk to bed based on the history of unknown European big men, there have been more failures than there have been Dirk Nowitzkis.
My message to the Knicks: Take Mudiay, let him adjust to the system, and help him develop from an athletic freak to an all-around NBA player and potential all-star.