There are a few different ways the Knicks could approach the 2022 NBA Draft.
Thinking through a few of those options, here are a few thoughts before the show starts.
Trade for Jaden Ivey. Keep RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin. Obviously, to some extent, this is a pie-in-the-sky idea, but it’s not crazy.
Between the combination of draft capital, tradeable contracts, Julius Randle, and even a promising young prospect in Quentin Grimes. There are ways New York and Sacramento can work their way to a deal without including Barrett, Quickley, or Toppin.
Pairing Randle in the frontcourt with Domantas Sabonis may be too clunky for Sacramento, but there are ways to loop in a third team. If the Knicks are willing to part with a few first-round picks, they should be able to pull off this deal.
There’s also the possibility that Ivey falls to five and the Knicks strike a deal with the Pistons. Crazier things have happened.
The more the Knicks are willing to spend, the more this move matters. Still, the juice is worth the squeeze here. Fill in the gaps around this young core with veterans. Maybe even re-sign Mitchell Robinson and really start to develop homegrown talent. That’s how teams are winning in the NBA lately. “Build from within” should be the offseason slogan.
There are things to love about how this young core would complement one another. All four like to push the ball in transition. Obi Toppin’s late-season flashes may have been just that — late-season flashes — but at worst, he looks the part of a super-sub, sixth-man, energizer. At his best, he could be an offensive force at the four.
RJ Barrett is prone to dips in offensive efficiency, but he had dominant stretches last season. Simply put, when he plays well, the Knicks win. They were 11-5 in games where he scored 27 points. He took a leap last year and he’s poised to take another.
Quickley brings three-point gravity and a great floater, but he doesn’t get to the rim. Barrett likes to attack the rim, but he has a controlled, methodical way of doing it. Ivey’s impressive downhill motor makes him an explosive dunk waiting to happen. Each player’s skillset complements the next.
Even though Jaden Ivey is likely going fourth, he’s in the top tier of this draft class. This entire scenario is as enticing as it is risky.
If not, try and trade for a 2023 first-rounder. A run at Ivey would make sense for the Knicks. Holding onto 11 to take a prospect they love who drops would be a reasonable strategy too.
But if the Knicks don’t love their board, they should find a way to punt until 2023. It’s easier said than done given the fact that teams are already actively doing this. The Nets deferred a first-rounder from the Sixers until 2023.
But there could be a desperate team out there that wants to grab someone at 11. It only takes one desperate GM to make it happen. According to NBA Twitter, every GM is bad. So, there’s at least a chance someone bites.
Don’t worry about fit at 11. If, after repeated attempts to trade up or trade down, the Knicks wind up picking at 11, don’t worry about fit. In theory, there should be a way to find minutes for a pick at any position. Take that with a grain of salt because, well, Tom Thibodeau is the head coach. But last season should be a wake-up call that Thibs needs to be a little more flexible moving forward.
Take the best player available and figure the rest out later. Most of the guys who fall in the 11 range project as a combo guard, wing, or center. In the event that Julius Randle and Obi Toppin are both on the Knicks next year, that’s the only minutes logjam fans will have to worry about.
The NFL Draft is more entertaining. Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion with the kind of people who read articles about the NBA, but it’s true. Picks always wind up hitting Twitter early in both drafts, so that’s a wash.
However, the most bizarre thing about the NBA draft telecast is how they pretend trades don’t happen in real-time. ESPN broadcasters have to try and play this charade that Prospect A is going to Team X even though everyone saw on Twitter (from Woj or Shams) that the pick was traded a long time ago. Knicks fans might remember John Calipari’s appearance on ESPN after the Knicks drafted Quickley.
John Calipari after Immanuel Quickley was originally selected by the Thunder:
“He’s going to the Knicks! You gotta know he’s going to the Knicks. They’re getting a worker, a great kid, a terrific basketball player.” pic.twitter.com/LmMJ7xruO6
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSkool) November 19, 2020
But even quirky behavior from the media aside, the NFL draft is a bigger deal. It’s a three-day affair that takes over primetime on Thursday and Friday. Saturday is for the real diehard fans if you are into that sort of thing.
The first round of the NFL draft is better than the entire NBA draft. Each lasts around four to five hours, but by the time the second round of the NBA draft rolls around, teams are trading cash for picks, and nearly every pick is a complete roll of the dice. NFL teams can grab day one starters in the first three rounds of the draft.
The higher leverage translates to higher overall entertainment value. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be sitting there through all 58 picks on draft night, but NFL draft weekend has it beat.