A lot has to fall right for the Duke center to be available. Even more has to go right for the Oklahoma point guard to still be on the board.
Knicks President Steve Mills talks about his philosophy of selecting players and building a team and how he prepares for the NBA Draft. Watch more on the NBA Draft all this week during MSG's special "Rookie Week."
So, let’s play out each of these scenarios, keeping in mind that how each player complements star Kristaps Porzingis has to figure significantly in the pick. Almost every player that interviewed with the Knicks was asked that question.
It’s a must-ask question if you’re the Knicks. KP is the team’s franchise player. Whoever the Knicks select not only has to understand that but has to have a clear vision of how he can make KP and the Knicks better.
Call this Mock Draft Through the Lens of KP.
If the Knicks draft Carter: The 6-foot-10, 258-pound center has a great old soul to him. He knows the Knicks history like a New York cabbie knows the crosstown shortcuts.
Carter was overshadowed last season at Duke by Marvin Bagley III and never uttered a peep of displeasure. Everything says he is a team-first guy.
As for on the court, Carter would be a great counterbalance to KP. He can do the dirty work down low, allowing Porzingis to do what he does best – stretch the defense.
Wendell Carter Jr. talks about what it would be like to play with Kristaps Porzingis, getting to meet coach David Fizdale, why he decided to workout with the Knicks and more.
It’s important to note how the future of Enes Kanter figures into this pick. He is a proven rebounder/hustle guy, but Carter can emerge as a pick and pop threat. Carter low; KP high. It sure looks good on paper.
It’s also important to note that it might take some time for this to work. Carter just turned 19 in April. Talk about a frontcourt of the future.
If the Knicks draft Young: The 6-foot-2, 176-pound point guard had one of the great freshman seasons in NCAA history. Young’s court vision should be sponsored by Lasik. His range isn’t Steph Curry, the player he’s been most compared to, but let’s see what happens if he adds some weight and muscle.
Now the tantalizing part – imagine Young, 19, and KP in the pick-and-roll. Unfair, you say? Hey, that’s what the NBA is. It’s unfair when the ball is in Russell Westbrook’s hands. Or Kyrie Irving’s hands. Or Curry’s hands. Or any of the other great point guards.
Trae Young discusses how his private workout with the Knicks went, how he'd fit in with the Knicks, his thoughts on David Fizdale and more.
The big question, of course, is: ‘What if Young can’t hand the physicality of the NBA?’ Like we said, big question.
If the Knicks draft Sexton: Sexton, aka The Young Bull, would challenge a ninja to a sword fight. No fear. This is good and bad. Sexton likes to attack the rim as if it insulted his family. It worked great at Alabama but NBA players are bigger, the defenses are tougher and the scouting is lightyears more sophisticated.
Translation: Some of what made Sexton a great college player won’t be as easy to execute at the next level.
Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report debate whether the Knicks should take Alabama point guard Collin Sexton with their ninth overall pick in the NBA Draft. Catch more People Talking Hoops during "Rookie Week" on MSG.
Sexton, 19, is unselfish and he’s just as aggressive on defense as he is on offense. His shot is good but may not be good enough early to force NBA defenses to switch. Of course, KP will miss time at the start of the season as he recovers from his ACL injury, which gives Sexton time to improve accuracy and consistency.
If the Knicks draft Knox: This was our toughest call to make in the mock draft. The thought of pairing the 6-foot-9 Knox with the 7-foot-3 Porzingis would stretch defenses like Saran Wrap. Now, the Drool Effect. Knox is just 18. KP is 22. Yep, drooled right on the keyboard.
If the Knicks think Emmanuel Mudiay (22), Frank Ntilikina (19), Trey Burke (25) or some combination of the three can excel at point guard, Knox and KP could set a new standard for forward play for a decade to come.
So what’s the rub?
We’ve seen KP go through the physical and maturation process. Injuries aside, it was not easy. Knox, who carries just 215 pounds on that 6-foot-9 frame will go through a similar grind so it might take some time for this to work.
It’s important to note that Knox will not be overwhelmed by the bright lights of the Big Apple. Lexington isn’t New York but playing at Kentucky means intense media attention. And John Calipari’s program is designed to help the one-and-done player be prepared for the peripheral demands of the NBA such as dealing with the media.
If the Knicks draft Bridges: Villanova has become the Alabama of college basketball is this regard: NBA coaches know if they draft a Nova player, they’re getting a fundamentally sound player. And in Nova’s case, they’re getting a young player that won’t have the GM getting phone calls at 4 a.m. informing him Player Z was arrested outside 1 Oak.
Don’t underestimate the importance of those qualities, which Bridges possesses.
Bridges is the closest to a finished product. He’ll turn 22 this summer. Does he have the upside of the other four? It’s a tough call. Right now, he can be a starting 3 with the ability to hit the 3 and defend at least 3 positions. He also would allow Tim Hardaway Jr. to play more at shooting guard.
Villanova forward and 2018 NBA Draft hopeful Mikal Bridges talks about how well he would fit in with the Knicks and explains why he loves playing at The Garden.
Barring injury, Bridges, at worst, will have a long and solid NBA career. For a franchise looking to establish a culture of accountability, no player that is likely to be available at No. 9 is a better fit.
Bottom line: As the draft approaches, Carter and Knox are on the rise. Carter will likely be gone. The Knicks go with Knox.
Do not view this as a consolation prize. Five years from now there’s a better chance we’re talking about the Kentucky product being one of the best small forwards in the game. He has that much upside.