Following the lottery and the combine, we made our first list of prospect rankings the New York Knicks should take with the ninth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
To the surprise of no one, the New York Knicks didn’t get lucky at the 2018 NBA draft lottery. They had 81.3 percent odds of staying pat at the No. 9 pick, and they did. As gloomy as that may have seemed at the moment, the Knicks still have their eye on some intriguing prospects.
They met with some of the draft’s top prospects at the combine this past week in Chicago. According to general manager Scott Perry, the Knicks will go with the best player available. New York can go multiple ways with this pick. The arrival of the vaunted 3-and-D wing is something the franchise is desperately in need of while picking up another point guard is also on the table.
Here’s a look at the first version of Elite Sports NY’s official big board. It’s not just a ranking of the prospect’s fit with the Knicks. You heard what Perry said. We’ll sacrifice fit for superior talent. This team needs it.
Let’s assume that the projected top prospects DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, and Luka Doncic are gone by the time the Knicks pick. You won’t find a mock draft out there that doesn’t have each of them going in the top three. After that, every other prospect available should be on New York’s radar.
1. Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan St.
Jaren Jackson Jr. will almost certainly be gone by the time the Knicks pick, but he’s an incredible option for a team in New York’s position. He needs to be on their radar. Jackson is the youngest projected first-round pick, turning 19 years old in Sept., and potentially has the most upside of any player in the draft. Yeah, he’s that guy.
When you hear a draft expert toss around the cliche of “he could end up being the best player in the draft,” there’s a good chance that expert is talking about Jackson. The former Spartan is the perfect model for a modern-day big man. While he’s just as raw as you’d expect an 18-year-old to be, Jackson’s already shown signs of unicorn abilities.
In his lone collegiate season, Jackson averaged a ridiculous 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes. He made 38 of his 96 threes–a legitimate sample size–to finish at nearly a 40 percent clip and shot almost 80 percent from the free throw line. Jackson was named Big Ten Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year.
It wasn’t all great though; the young big man still has a lot to learn. He averaged 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes which led to him playing just 21.8 minutes per game. He fouled out of five different games.
It’s almost unfathomable to think that the Knicks could pick up another three-point shooting shot blocker who can handle the ball like a guard. Unlike Kristaps Porzingis, Jackson plays defense on the perimeter too. If the Knicks had jumped into the top 3, they should’ve seriously considered him. Now they’ll have to cross their fingers for a miracle.