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Anything can happen on draft night. Who do the experts have the New York Knicks taking in the 2021 NBA Draft?

Danny Small

The New York Knicks are one of the most intriguing teams in the league as the 2021 NBA Draft approaches. New York doesn’t have a lottery pick, but they have three selections in the top 32 this year.

Could the Knicks try and consolidate those picks and move up in the draft? Is it possible they trade those picks away for a veteran player? Anything can happen on Thursday night.

Let’s take a look at who the experts have the Knicks taking in the first round of the NBA Draft.

ESPN — Jonathan Givony

#19 — Usman Garuba, PF/C, Real Madrid

Excerpt: “It remains to be seen how much of an appetite the Knicks will have for adding two first-round picks to their already crowded rotation — many expect them to either look to package Nos. 19 and 21 and move up to the late lottery or mid-first round or trade one or both picks for more ready-made contributors. If they keep the pick, adding a versatile defender with toughness and Euroleague experience such as Garuba will surely please coach Tom Thibodeau. Garuba did not look out of place in an exhibition game against Team USA last week, helping his cause among teams in the late lottery and teens.”

#21 — Kai Jones, PF, Texas

Excerpt: “As mentioned, it remains to be seen how much of an appetite the Knicks will have for adding two first-round picks to their already crowded rotation. Many expect them to either look to package Nos. 19 and 21 and move up to the late lottery or middle first, or trade one or both picks for more ready-made contributors. Jones is likely too talented to fall much further as a versatile defender who showed some promise as a floor-spacer to complement his rim-running, offensive rebounding and finishing prowess, giving him plenty of upside to grow into a long-term contributor.”

Yahoo — Jeremy Woo

#19 — Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

Excerpt: “The Knicks have made attempts to move up into the late lottery by combining their two first-round selections, sources say, and could still find a suitable move going into draft night, whether that’s acquiring NBA talent, or moving around in the draft. New York has also been the team most frequently linked to Jackson over the course of the predraft process, noting the team’s demonstrable penchant for Kentucky players. While Jackson is inarguably raw and not particularly skilled, he’s an exceptional athlete, and flashed enough intriguing things during the season to solidify first-round interest. The hope is that Jackson will emerge as a rim-running center who protects the basket, but he’s not particularly reliable yet and viewed as more of a project. He’s an acquired taste for some scouts, who question his offensive acumen and feel.”

#21 — Usman Garuba, PF/C, Real Madrid

Excerpt: “Teams are all over the board on Garuba, who has one of the most intriguing defensive profiles in the draft, but is lagging behind in terms of offensive skills at this point, leading to questions over what his eventual role might be on that end of the floor. The Knicks have a defensive-minded head coach in Tom Thibodeau, and could be intrigued by what Garuba has to offer. He’s exceptionally well tested for his age, having cut his teeth in Real Madrid’s senior team and the Spanish national team, and he should have utility as a physical, switchable ball screen defender who can guard all over the frontcourt. But teams are concerned about how far away he might be on offense, and it’s possible he slips into the 20s.”

Bleacher Report — Jonathan Wasserman

#19 — Trey Murphy III, F, Virginia

Excerpt: “Murphy is trending in the draft discussion. I’ve heard Mikal Bridges used as a comparison from a team that sees a valuable three-and-D role player.”

#21 — Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

The Athletic — Sam Vecenie

#19 — Usman Garuba, PF/C, Real Madrid

Excerpt: “Tom Thibodeau’s favorite player is Taj Gibson. There are a lot of similarities between Garuba and Gibson, as both are absolutely elite defenders positionally. The difference is that Garuba has a bit more athleticism and pop than Gibson ever did, and thus has a real chance to be the kind of impact defender it’s worth consistently keeping on the court. Also, the Knicks will be very familiar with Garuba, as he’s repped by CAA. While I do think that connection to the current front office has been slightly overblown, I also believe it’ll help in regard to familiarity with a player they might not have gotten a chance to see overseas this year.”

#21 — Jaden Springer, PG, Tennessee

Excerpt: “I’ve heard two consistent things with the Knicks over the last week. First, they see shot creation as a genuine need, and they’ll look to address it. Second, don’t be surprised if they end up not picking at 19 and 21. Springer would fill that shot-creation ability, and it’s easy to see how Thibodeau would be an enormous fan of the Tennessee product due to his defensive intensity.”

Elite Sports NY — Danny Small

#19 — Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

Excerpt: “The Knicks have been in search of a point guard for what feels like an eternity. There is no guarantee that Cooper fills that gap, but he’s a strong option at No. 19. He’s a crafty ballhandler with insane vision in transition and the pick-and-roll despite being undersized at 6-foot.”

#21 — Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon

Excerpt: “Chris Duarte is not a perfect prospect, but he’s someone that Tom Thibodeau can work with. Duarte is an elite off-ball defender who can knock down three-pointers. Getting playing time under Thibs isn’t easy for rookies, but Duarte is the type of defender who could work his way into some major minutes.”