Even if they land the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft, the New York Knicks shouldn’t even think of picking James Wiseman.
Everyone knows James Wiseman can play.
The star center’s potential speaks for itself. In just three games with the Memphis Tigers, the 7-foot-1 wonder has averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and three blocks per game. He has shot nearly 77% from the field.
Wiseman was then suspended for improper benefits, but given the chance to return in January. Cue a Thursday report from Myron Medcalf of ESPN, and Wiseman is now leaving school to prepare for the NBA Draft.
And suddenly, every New York Knicks fan’s collective ears have perked up. A big name entering the draft? New York 7-21 and tied for the fourth-worst record in the league? Plenty of basketball left to play/tank? Let’s get him!
Pump the brakes, everyone. Christmas may be less than a week away, but NBA Draft Day is still six months from now. A lot can happen between now and then
However, one thing that should NOT happen is for the Knicks to consider picking Wiseman.
Odds stacked against them
The non-basketball reason the Knicks shouldn’t draft James Wiseman is simple. NBA Draft Lottery rules, beginning this past spring, changed to not give the best odds to the worst team.
Today, in a nutshell, the three worst teams each have a 14% chance of landing the top overall pick. For context, the Knicks had the NBA’s worst record entering last year’s lottery, yet wound up with the No. 3 pick. This turned out well for New York, as RJ Barrett’s ceiling is high despite some growing pains.
The point is right now, the Knicks are not in that position. As the fourth-worst team, they only have a 12.5% shot at landing the top pick in June.
Not only that, but the Knicks don’t look like a tanking squad at all. Since David Fizdale was fired and replaced with Mike Miller, New York is 3-3. Issues are still aplenty, but New York certainly isn’t playing to lose.
Either way, given the standings as they are now, the Knicks picking Wiseman is not in the cards.
Center need not apply
More importantly, though, the Knicks don’t need to draft James Wiseman because the team is set at the center position. Mitchell Robinson is coming into his own as a dominant big man in his second year, even with inconsistent minutes.
Robinson, who is still just 21 years old, is averaging 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 22.5 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, those numbers rise to 16.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. If not for foul trouble, he would be the full-time starter instead of Taj Gibson.
This brings the conversation to a more important point overall. Even if New York lands the first pick in the draft, a viable point guard should be drafted instead of James Wiseman. Someone like North Carolina’s Cole Anthony would be great, or maybe the Knicks should roll the dice on LaMelo Ball.
The last thing New York needs is a center. No disrespect to James Wiseman, but he’s an odd fit with the Knicks.
Mind you, none of this is to say James Wiseman is a bad player. His leaving Memphis means he is now, hopefully, at the start of a brilliant career.
It just shouldn’t be with the Knicks. Unless Dave Joerger is hired as the new head coach, Julius Randle gets traded, and Wiseman is picked to form a Twin Towers defense alongside Robinson, odds are he’ll be playing elsewhere.
And just think of what adding Wiseman could do to Robinson’s relationship with the Knicks. All signs pointed to him being the franchise’s center of the future, and the 18-year-old Wiseman gets him pushed aside at just 21 years old? Clark Griswold would appreciate his membership to the Jelly of the Month Club more than Robinson would such treatment.
We’ve all looked into the Knicks’ future, ladies and gentlemen, and we know what has to happen. It isn’t signing an A-plus free agent, nor a blockbuster trade, and it sure isn’t drafting James Wiseman over a point guard. He’s talented, but just not what the Knicks need.
Hopefully, the front office sees things the same way.