New York Knicks draft LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Even if the lottery gods bless the New York Knicks with the No. 1 pick in the draft, there’s no clear-cut choice at the top spot.

Danny Small

There’s nothing set in stone in regards to the New York Knicks‘ draft lottery odds yet. While the NBA remains on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the lottery odds are a mystery.

However, the Knicks are currently sixth-worst in the league and own a 9.0% chance at the first overall pick per Tankathon.com. If the league resumes play, there’s a chance that number could fluctuate between 14.0 and 7.5%. No matter what, the Knicks will have a fighting chance to secure the top pick.

In 2019, the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies both jumped up six spots to picks one and two, respectively. So, the point is that the Knicks have a realistic chance at snagging the top pick, but that choice would come with plenty of questions.

First off, there’s no Zion Williamson in the 2020 draft class. There’s great talent at the top of the draft, but no one standing out head and shoulders above the rest. James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and Deni Avdija are all great players, but no one is coming in with the kinds of expectations Williamson carries on his shoulders.

Since there is no clear-cut No. 1 pick, the Knicks have to look at players based on roster fit. The Knicks have plenty of holes to fill, but Mitchell Robinson is the center of the future. If there was a redraft of the 2019 NBA draft, Robinson would undoubtedly be a top-10 pick, perhaps even top-five. As a result, James Wiseman probably doesn’t make sense for New York.

What’s the Knicks’ definition of a point guard? LaMelo Ball might not be a prototypical point guard, but he’s the closest thing to a floor general at the tippy top of draft boards. He has a smooth stroke from the outside, but he’s a natural playmaker like his brother Lonzo.

He could pair well with RJ Barrett in the backcourt and Frank Ntilikina as the first guard off the bench. With that said, Ball is by no means a can’t-miss prospect.

There are a crop of point guards bunched up in the middle of the lottery. Killian Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton, Cole Anthony, and Nico Mannion are all potential lottery picks with high upside.

If the Knicks don’t feel confident in Ball, but they still want a point guard, they could try and trade down and take one of the many point guards in that next crop of players.

Of course, it takes two to tango and another team will have to want to trade up to snag their guy. But should a team feel aggressive enough, the Knicks could pull off a deal like the Dallas Mavericks swap with the Atlanta Hawks in 2018. The Mavs and Hawks swapped Luka Doncic and Trae Young, with a 2019 first-rounder (Cam Reddish) going to Atlanta.

Any extra draft capital the Knicks pick up can be useful going forward.

The third and perhaps least likely option is that the Knicks take a wing.

Deni Avdija is a 19-year-old small forward on Maccabi Tel Aviv with a high ceiling on both ends of the floor. Filling the void at point guard is the biggest need for the Knicks right now, but sometimes teams are willing to add talent over need during a rebuild.

Anthony Edwards is somewhere in between a wing and a combo guard, but the Georgia product is flying up draft boards. His talent may be too much for the Knicks to pass up, even if he isn’t a perfect fit.

By taking Avdija or Edwards, the Knicks run the risk of playing another season in point guard purgatory. It’s hard to imagine the Knicks go any direction other than point guard at this point, but crazier things have happened.

The main theme here is that there is nothing certain should the No. 1 pick fall to the New York Knicks in the draft. However, bearing the burden of the first-overall pick in the draft is a good problem to have. Knicks fans have learned to hope for the best, but brace for the worst. Perhaps 2020 will be different.

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