5. Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Trae Young was a consensus first-team All-American who led the country in scoring and assists as a freshman. He produced more points than any other player per game–by a wide margin–and had the highest usage rate by a freshman since the stat first started being recorded in 2009-10.
Young is the most polarizing prospect in the draft so naturally he has been linked to the Knicks. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that New York has the hots for Young following a meeting at the draft combine. And according to Young’s father the interest is mutual.
In an interview with Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News Young’s father, Ray, spoke about the criticism Trae faced in his lone season at Oklahoma and how it should prepare him for New York.
“Trae’s been scrutinized to the point that he has thick skin. None of that stuff is going to bother him. He was like the darling of college basketball for three months, and then the last month-and-a-half he turned into a bad guy, for some reason.”
Young went from Steph Curry doppelganger to an overrated flash in the pan seemingly overnight even though he lit up the nation by scoring 40 points on four different occasions.
It’s still wise to be concerned over Young’s potential fit in the league. He struggled with efficiency–at a time when that’s valued more than ever–and his size makes him a liability on defense. The former McDonald’s All-American shot just 42.2 percent from the field and 36 percent on threes; and according to Hoop-Math.com, he made only 53.5 percent of his shots at the rim.
6. Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
Marvin Bagley overshadowed Wendell Carter in their one season at Duke. The likely top three pick received all the headlines on his way to being named ACC Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. The Knicks won’t be in any position to get Bagley, but they have interest in Carter, who should be available at the nine spot.
He’s already begun honing his craft as a rim protector, blocking 3.1 shots per 40 minutes last season, and his promising shooting touch is something that should give Porzingis relief on the offensive end. Carter averaged 73.8 percent from the free throw line and made 19 of his 46 attempts from three-point range (41.3 percent).
He was solid around the rim on offense too. Carter made 70.2 percent of his shots at the rim and 75 percent of his putback attempts. If it touched his hands around the basket, it was going in.
Bagley had a usage percentage of 26.3 percent to Carter’s 22.8 percent. He can do damage while a superstar teammate is dominating the ball. That’s encouraging for a potential Porzingis pairing.
7. Miles Bridges, F, Michigan St.
Miles Bridges did the unthinkable when he returned to Michigan State for his sophomore season following an outstanding freshman campaign. He’s probably regretting that decision now. Bridges’ stock took a hit as his numbers declined and the Spartans were bounced early in the NCAA Tournament.
A year ago at this time, people were making comparisons to Draymond Green (another former Spartan) but now “the other Bridges” slipped through the cracks. He’s been overshadowed by teammate Jaren Jackson. That’s why New York will likely be in a position to draft him.
At first glance, Bridges is the ideal fit for the modern NBA. He’s a 3-and-D wing who can guard multiple positions and rebound well. Even though he’s been given the dreaded label of a “tweener” he still feels like a matchup nightmare for most power forwards with his three-point shooting and explosive athleticism.
The lack of top-ten interest in Bridges isn’t necessarily an indictment of him, but of this draft process. We’ve forgotten about how good Bridges was just a year ago. The Knicks could end up with a steal at No. 9 with Miles Bridges.