james bouknight
Mandatory Credit: Robert Scheer/Indy Star via USA TODAY Sports

James Bouknight is a local kid who can score the basketball with anyone. He could be the next great bench scorer for the New York Knicks.

Danny Small

The New York Knicks are on an upward trajectory, but there are still moves that need to be made. This is true for most NBA teams, but the Knicks could use another pure scorer to help shoulder the offensive load. James Bouknight is one of the most polished offensive players in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Bouknight, 20, is a New York native who would love to come back home to play for the Knicks. He told reporters this exact sentiment earlier this week.

New York owns the 19th, 21st, 32nd, and 58th picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. Let’s take a look at Bouknight’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit in this Knicks draft profile.

Strengths

Scorer

James Bouknight is not a shooter, slasher, or mid-range threat. He’s all of the above. Bouknight is a scorer’s scorer who can do it from all three levels. Shot creation is the most valuable skill for an NBA player to have and Bouknight is already a polished scorer who can go get a shot in almost any situation.

We could devote an entire section to Bouknight’s athleticism, but we’re including it here. The UConn product is a stud when it comes to getting to the rim. Although he might be a bit undersized when it comes to his overall strength, he has no problem finishing over bigger, stronger defenders. Bouknight shot 62.7% at the rim during his sophomore season in Storrs.

There is something about his offensive game that can lull defenders into a false sense of security. Just when it looks like he has no options, he figures out a way to get to the rim or pull off a step-back jumper in the mid-range. Bouknight is remarkably creative as an offensive player.

Weaknesses

Playmaking

Bouknight is fantastic when the ball is in his hands, but teams are going to start overplaying him as a scorer at the next level. Even though the 20-year-old can get his own shot in a phone booth, he will need to start flashing some playmaking chops to keep defenses honest.

He has a tendency to fall in love with his own offensive repertoire, leading to overdribbling, overpenetration, and poor shot selection.

In college, Bouknight needed to be the alpha male on offense. In the NBA, Bouknight will have to learn to trust his teammates when the defense is overplaying him.

Off-Ball Defense

Despite the fact that Bouknight has all the physical tools to be a lockdown defender, there is still room to grow on that side of the floor. Much like he can be on offense, Bouknight can be overaggressive off the ball. That can lead to easy backdoors and open shots for the opposing team.

As great of a player as Bouknight can be on both ends of the floor, he needs to learn how to keep it simple. He’s more than capable as a one-on-one defender at the point of attack, but he tends to lose focus when he’s off the ball.

Fit With The Knicks

Knicks Need Scoring

The Knicks need scoring in a desperate way. The biggest reason for New York’s early playoff exit came down to making shots. They didn’t have enough guys who could go out and get a bucket at any time.

Although Bouknight has plenty of room to improve offensively, there is no denying his ability to score in one-on-one situations. He’s one of the top prospects in this draft in that regard.

It’s also worth noting that Bouknight could slot into the role of offensive burst off the bench. Alec Burks is a free agent and there is no guarantee he is back in New York next year. The Knicks could use another offensive engine off the bench.

Local Kid

Perhaps this is an overblown narrative that writers like myself enjoy pushing, but Bouknight is a local kid who knows what New York is like. The former four-star recruit won a New York Federation Class B championship for La Salle after growing up in Crown Heights Brooklyn.

Being a New York native isn’t a prerequisite for playing on the Knicks, but it’s always nice when fans have a local kid to cheer.

Bouknight is projected to go somewhere late in the lottery. If the Knicks are going to land him, they will likely need to package a couple of picks together to move up.