NBA Draft Roundtable

With the 2013 NBA Draft just around the corner, the Meloship crew put together a roundtable tackling some of the Knicks big draft questions.

1. What is the Knicks biggest draft need? (You can’t say “all of them”)

  • Taylor Armosino (@tarmosino): This is a difficult question because we haven’t gotten a definitive answer on whether the Knicks are going to stick with small ball with Carmelo Anthony at the 4, or whether they’ll go back to playing big with Anthony at the 3. If they go big, then power forward is easily their biggest need. Presumably, Stoudemire would be the guy starting there to start the season, but obviously he’s not good at staying on the court. Behind that, the Knicks have approximately 0 good options other than Anthony to fill that 4 spot. If they play small, like they should, then I think the three spot becomes their biggest void. They still have Novak, but he seems like a waste of space at this point. Ultimately I think the Knicks stick with small-ball, thus making a 3 and D wing their biggest need.
  • Dan Goldstein (@thedanstein): As it stands now, the Knicks have big holes at backup point guard and backup center. Assuming the Knicks stay with the small-ball style that made them so successful last year, I’d call backup point guard the biggest hole considering they currently only have one point guard under contract, and lineups with two point guards were their best. On the other hand, here were the Knicks backup centers last year: Sheed and Kurt (<3), Marcus Camby (dead), Solomon Jones (currently making his pilgrimage back to the promised land), and Kenyon Martin (free agent). It’s pretty amazing the Knicks got by with this group, and while resigning Kenyon is going to be important this offseason, banking on a 36 year old to last the entire year as your backup center isn’t a sound strategy, as we learned last year. Still, I’d go with backup point guard.
  • John Gunther (@embraceanalytix): Last season the Knicks were the oldest team in NBA history, so it should be obvious that the roster desperately needs youth, as well as versatility and athleticism, qualities that depreciate as players get older.  For all the talk about PGs and bigs, I think the Knicks really need a wing.  In a perfect world, this “combo forward” would be able to guard 3 positions (2 through 4), bolstering the mediocre/poor perimeter D from this season while fitting into Woodson’s “switch at all costs” defensive philosophy.  Also, this imaginary prospect would need to make 3 pointers at a reasonable clip in order to properly space the floor and fit within the offensive system.  Basically I want a “3 & D” guy in the Kawhi Leonard or Wilson Chandler (miss you) mold.  Whether or not this guy exists, particularly at pick #24, is highly questionable, but I can dream can’t I?
  • Brandon Rushie (@ayo_rush): Point guard, without question. Carmelo Anthony is the best player on this roster, but without adequate point guard play, this offense dissolves into unimaginative  isolations and endless dribbling. Jason Kidd has retired, and Pablo Prigioni’s future as a Knick is still cloudy. A young point would be a welcome addition.
  • James Griffo (@j_griff): Point guard and center. The retirement of Jason Kidd opened up a roster vacancy that the Knicks should fill in immediately. Even though it looks like Pablo Prigioni aka Prigs aka Pablocura! aka The Notorious P.R.I.G. will be retained (somewhat), Ray Felton still needs some depth at his position to back him up in case Prigs doesn’t return or gets injured. Point guard can’t be a problem for the Knicks again. Same with the center position, respectively. Tyson Chandler also needs assistance from someone that’s not a who-knows-if-he’ll-be-healthy-next-year Marcus Camby, because Camby’s feet were probably amputated by the Knicks training staff, after having plantar fascilitis for the majority of the season.
2. Who’s your favorite prospect in the draft?
  • Armosino: I think Nerlens Noel is going to be a defensive star. He’ll be a top two pick in the draft, and in this era of revolutionized defensive schemes, I can’t wait to see him play. My hope is that he is used similarly to Chris Bosh in Miami – though I think he’ll end up a more impactful defender than Bosh, and I think Bosh is pretty good. Like what Miami does with Bosh, Noel can definitely play that one man zone in pick and roll defense (Zach Lowe wrote about this at Grantland), as he has the mobility to not only crash into the lane, but he should be able to easily recover out to his man off a kick out pass. I think this guy could be a dominant defensive force in this league for a long time. He’s my favorite player in the draft.
  • Goldstein: I’m torn between Dennis Schroeder and CJ McCollum as my two favorite prospects. Schroeder’s savvy pick-and-roll play at the age of 19 is really enticing, and I like McCollum because of his excellent tweeting and his basketball nerdiness that I can relate to. Seriously, watch this. The guy is awesome. Unfortunately, most likely neither will be available for the Knicks. Fun!
  • Gunther: I’ll take Otto Porter, with one caveat.  The consensus seems to be that Nerlens Noel has the most upside and is the best prospect.  Hell, he’s not only the favorite amongst the scouts, but he is the analytical darling of the draft as well. But upside can be a tricky thing because often it is never fully reached, and considering Noel’s ACL injury and limited offensive game I have trouble pegging him as my “favorite” prospect based on upside alone.  So I’ll take Porter simply because it is hard to find the weaknesses in his already NBA ready game.  He can score, play defense, fill up the stat sheet on raw numbers, and doesn’t need to dominate the ball (24.1% USG last season at GTown) to make his presence felt.  Essentially, I buy into his “Scottie Pippen Lite” potential, excluding the assault charges.  Now for the caveat: Noel is the most intriguing option for teams that are trying to tank next year in hopes of winning the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, as he projects to struggle early on in his career before blossoming in the future.
  • Rushie: Shane Larkin. He’s smart, tough, has great range on his shot, and is deadly in the pick and roll. He’s a very good athlete and knows how to run an offense. I honestly believe that if he was a few inches taller, he’d be a top 5 pick. His size is an obvious concern but he’s definitely a guy who I’d say you should keep an eye on, regardless of where he’s drafted.
  • Griffo: I love so many of them, but its a tie between Jeff Withey and Isaiah Canaan. I watched both guys religiously, especially Withey. If Withey was a family member of mine, he would be that awesome long lost cousin once removed that you haven’t seen in ages that has a wicked basketball talent because of his epic height. And I love defense. I really want to see how college’s most superior shot blocker will pan out in the pros. With Canaan, I love him because of his Damian Lillard-like play, his leadership on the court and his confidence level. Hopefully he becomes like Lillard. Also, I consider him to be the biggest sleeper in this year’s draft class. All of that being said, I’m eagerly awaiting to see both Withey and Canaan succeed in the NBA.
3. Are you in favor of the rumored trade where the Knicks would send the 24th pick to Portland for KOSTAS PAPINICOLICKOLAU and the 39th pick?
  • Armosino: At first, I thought this rumor was flat out stupid. It would literally be the most Knicks thing ever to give up a first round pick and cash for a guy they took in the second round the year prior. After thinking about it, I’m warming up to the idea of this trade. I think Kostas P! would fit in quite nicely at that 3 spot next to Carmelo Anthony. He was a 52% three point shooter last season in Greece and is thought of as a solid defender. As I stated earlier, the Knicks need a 3 and D wing. Whether they draft a guy like Reggie Bullock, or trade their pick to get Kostas P! I think I’ll be okay with it.
  • Goldstein: Here’s the thing: I’m in favor of this trade if the Knicks think that Papanikolaou is better than who they can get at 24, and they certainly could use another swingman. My qualm here is that the Knicks took him in 2nd round! I just have a problem with trading the 24 pick for the guy you took 48. But again, if the top point guards are all of the board at that point, this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
  • Gunther: It would be so Knicks to reacquire their 2nd round pick from last season in a trade for their 1st round pick this season, wouldn’t it?  I have liked much of what I have read about and seen (just via YouTube) of Papanikolaou, who projects to be the type of combo forward with 3-point range that the Knicks need, but I cannot get over the fact that we would be reacquiring our 2nd round pick while giving up a 1st rounder!  When the prospect has yet to even play an NBA game!!  I guess in theory the Knicks SHOULD pull the trigger on this deal if they feel Papa Greek is better than any prospect available at #24.  But, given that he apparently will not play for Portland under any circumstances, maybe the Knicks can use some leverage to either give up less or get more back in return (Portland has 3 2nd round picks).  If Portland doesn’t budge, I’d pass.  Not worth dropping back 15 spots for a relative unknown entity that you gave away willingly less than a year ago.
  • Rushie: Initially I was furious; the thought of the Knicks trading their 1st rounder for a player THEY drafted and gave up the year prior in a deal sounded so “Knicks”. But upon closer examination, it may be a ridiculously shrewd move if they’re able to select a Myck Kabongo for example with the second rounder. He’s a player that many fans are starting to warm up to, but at #24 just isn’t worth it in my opinion. From what I’ve gathered, Kostas would be a good “3 & D” wing, and is arguably just as good, if not better than most of the prospects that would be available at #24. So it’s a win-win.
  • Griffo: I wouldn’t mind, but that’s only if the Knicks REALLY want him back. He’ll reunite with the guy that he was traded for, just like when Felton joined forces with the guy he was traded for – Carmelo Anthony. If Glen Grunwald is really having a “Baby Come Back” moment, and Portland approves of sending Kostas back to New York, then fine, considering his recent Euroleague Rising Star accolade from this year. Lets just hope Kostas doesn’t turn into Frederic Weis if and when he comes back. Wait, Weis never came back. Forget it.
4. Who should the Knicks take?
  • Armosino: Given the Knicks dearth of quality depth at several key positions, the Knicks can’t really go wrong with whatever position they draft. If I was sitting in the GM chair, I’d grab a 3 and D wing (I’m aware I’ve said this 500 times already). It’s not guaranteed he’ll be there, but I’d go with Reggie Bullock from North Carolina. He was a 43.6% three point shooter last season, and has the length and athleticism to be a plus defender at the 3. If he’s not there, I think they’d go with Tony Snell from New Mexico, but they should take a good, hard look at Jeff Withey. Though the NBA waiver wire is litered with tall centers who flamed out, I like Withey’s potential. Tyson Chandler’s weird playoff disappearance is concerning. Grabbing a tall, defensive center who can run pick and roll is cool with me.
  • Goldstein: Ideally, I hope Schroeder or Shane Larkin fall to the Knicks. I’m almost fully certain they won’t, and at that point I’d be ok with them taking another point guard in Nate Wolters or going for a potential 3-and-D guy in Tony Snell.
  • Gunther: Reggie Bullock.  Obviously it depends on who is available, but from the mocks I’ve seen Bullock is being taken somewhere in the 20s.  Bullock could contribute immediately and is a fit because of his outside shooting prowess.  He shot .436 from 3 last season at UNC and in general scored efficiently, posting a .625 TS%.  Additionally, Bullock has good measurables standing at 6’7″ with a 6’8.5″ wingspan, and is athletic enough to guard 2s and big enough to guard 3s (but is too slight at 200 lbs. to bang around with 4s).  Of the guys that are potentially available, he checks the most boxes of the Knicks needs I addressed in question 1, and is ready to contribute now after 3 years of college experience.  If we go big instead of a wing, my preference is Giourgi Dieng of Louisville, who is undervalued because of his age (23).  He is a known entity on defense and, despite his age, still has upside because he’s only played basketball for like 5 years.  If we trade down in general or to 39 (see question 3), I’d look at Andre Roberson (#3 in Pelton’s WARP rankings) who meets the versatile and athletic criteria and would help on the boards.
  • Rushie: If the Knicks sit on the 24th pick, I’d be really excited about a Nate Wolters, point guard from South Dakota State. He’s somewhat unheralded, having played for a small school that isn’t exactly known for churning out NBA talent, but Wolters’ offensive game is NBA-ready; he takes care of the basketball, is a good creator for others, and at 6’5/195 lbs has great size for the position. I’d be happy adding him to the roster.
  • Griffo: Nerlens Noel, obviously. Just kidding. I’m going to stand by with Jeff Withey, and Tony Mitchell. Forgive my Withey bias/obsession, but the Knicks ranked 18th in defense last year, and, again, who the heck knows what Marcus Camby will be doing next year? Same if Kenyon Martin isn’t retained as well. Even if K-Mart is retained, Tyson Chandler can’t be protecting the rim all by himself with a dying 39-going-on-40 Camby, if you will, and a 35 year old Kenyon Martin. Adding youth to the center position would be great, even though Withey is considered to be “veteran leadership” out-of-college material at 23 years old. Since lots of Knick fans want a “3 and D” type of player, Mitchell is the perfect guy to have for that purpose, considering that he’s 6’9, and is a small/power forward hybrid with wicked athleticism, a gargantuan wingspan with an improving defensive ability, and a strong rebounding attribute. If Mike Woodson ever wanted to run a big lineup, inserting Mitchell at small forward would sound like a good fit.
5. Who will the Knicks actually take?
  • Armosino: If he’s there, I think they go Bullock. If he’s gone, I think Snell is the guy. Given the Knicks lack of point guard depth, it would not surprise me in the slightest if the Knicks went for a point guard like Nate Wolters or Isaiah Canaan. Jeff Withey has great potential as a new era center – running pick and roll and playing great defense – and I’d be fine with the Knicks swiping him up as well. There are lots of good options at need spots that should be on the board. Ultimately I think they take Bullock or Snell.
  • Goldstein: I think the Knicks will look to grab a point guard like Wolters, thinking that they can find swingman on the cheap in free agency (Hello, Shawne Williams!). Or, after seeing what they got in Shumpert, they might look for another athletic wing. Or they might trade the pick for LeBron. I like that. They should do that.
  • Gunther: Jeff Withey. With the PGs they covet, most notably Shane Larkin, long gone the Knicks will decide to roll the dice on a rim protecting big man.  In theory it makes sense because the team needs someone that can give them the interior defense off the bench that Marcus Camby was supposed to bring, while helping limit Tyson’s minutes and keep him fresh.  The Knicks target Dieng, but he goes to the Nets at #22 and Grunwald and co. take the next C on their board 2 picks later.  Woodson loves the pick because veterans (Withey is the 2nd oldest player in the draft).  The predominately pro-Knicks crowd at Barclays Center gets the chance to boo yet another 7 ft white guy stiff (see Weis, Frederic).  Somewhere, Isiah Thomas smiles.
  • Rushie: I’m pretty sure we will end up going with a wing player if we keep the 24th pick. Reggie Bullock and Tony Snell are a few players that are beginning to rise up draft boards, and after (reportedly) very good workouts for New York, if they’re available when the Knicks select, it wouldn’t surprise me if Glen jumped on them.
  • Griffo: I’m edging towards Reggie Bullock. He seems like the guy the Knicks will pick at 24. Most Knick fans want him, and he could fit in well with Mike Woodson’s offensive scheme because of his three point shooting and other shooting intangibles. It wouldn’t be a revelation to me if Glen Grunwald drafts him.

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