With the NBA draft looming (happens on Tuesday, June 25th) there are many questions to be asked about how the Knicks will approach their 8th selection. While there are a number of possibilities to be investigated (i.e. trading up with Memphis to the #2 pick to acquire Hasheem Thabeet, or trading down with somebody if the Knicks target Stephen Curry is off the board and roll with a point guard like Ty Lawson etc...), we cannot assume that any of this will happen. That being said, I will now investigate the players likely to available when the Knicks pick comes around on Tuesday.
Ian's Mock Draft:
1. Los Angeles Clippers - Blake Griffin
ESPN Player Comparison: Carlos Boozer meets Amare Stoudemire
2. Memphis Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet (barring a trade)
ESPN Player Comparison: Dikembe Mutombo
I would LOVE for the Knicks to trade up to #2 with Memphis and be able to grab Thabeet (who many are calling the next coming of Mutombo). Thabeet's defensive presence would benefit New York moreso than another shoot-first guard and would finally bring a legitimate big man to New York for the first time since Ewing (I'm not counting the ghost of Marcus Camby who wasted away on our bench with injuries before we shipped him off and he had a career resurgence). I just compared Thabeet to Ewing?! Don't get me wrong, the offensive skills are lightyears apart, and while Thabeet may never be even close to the overall player Ewing was, he's still a highly skilled 7'3" defensive guru - last time I checked, those don't grow on trees.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder - James Harden
ESPN Player Comparison: "a less athletic" Brandon Roy
While many "experts" have had the Thunder taking Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio here with the #3 pick, I personally think he will slip a little bit. First of all, the Thunder already have a stud point guard in Russel Westbrook, and if Thabeet is off the board (obviously if he's still here, he would be the pick for the Thunder), I wouldn't be surprised if the Thunder drafted this dynamic scorer to add to the already impressive young core of Durant, Westbrook and Jeff Green.
4. Sacramento Kings - Ricky Rubio
ESPN Player Comparison: didn't give one, so I'm going to say shades of Tony Parker combined with a better version of fellow Spaniard Jose Calderon (see for yourself)
If Rubio is still on the board, I think the Kings would be nuts to pass up on him, although Sacramento ownership has been quoted as saying that even if he is available that "it's far from a done deal." This years draft is incredibly deep and PG, and of all the teams in the league, the Kinds PG need is well documented - do you really want to spend another year starting Beno Udrih?! Of all the talented PG's in this years draft - Rubio, Holiday, Jennings, Flyn, Lawson - I would say Rubio has the most upsided, but at this point it's basically a crapshoot, I'd be happy with any of those guys on my squad.
5. Washington Wizards - Jrue Holiday
ESPN Player Comparison: did'nt give one, I'd say he reminds me a bit of Mo Williams, although not as good a shooter... yet.
Reports say that the Wiz are trying hard to shop this pick (Knicks, Rockets, Pacers all in talks) to land a proven veteran. However, if they don't pull this move off, it's clear that they're in need of PG, and Holiday may be the best still available. When Arenas is healthy, he can capably run the point (although clearly not his true position), but that's a big when, for Arenas is as injury prone as they come.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves - DeMar DeRozan
ESPN Player Comparison: Richard Jefferson
What's with all the "De-" prefixes? What's wrong with the name Mar Rozan, I think it sounds pretty cool actually. I'm curious as to the origins of African American names beginning with "De", you've never met a white guy who's name was DeBill DeSmith or DeTodd DeMarks. Interesting, if anybody has any feedback to this conundrum please let me know. Anyways, this may be wishful thinking on my part that the Wolves don't snag Curry here (a definite possibility with their need at SG), but DeRozan is more of a dynamic player and seems more NBA-ready than Curry.
7. Golden State Warriors - Brandon Jennings
ESPN Player Comparison: didn't give one... a bigger, stronger Tim Hardaway with shades of (the good) Stephon Marbury - who can THROW IT DOWN.
The Warriors pose another serious threat to the Knicks hopes of landing Curry (if the Knicks don't trade up), as he would be a perfect fit for "NellieBall". However, the Warriors also don't possess a true point guard, and if Jennings is all he's cracked up to be, it could be a good fit. The Jennings story is well known by this point (he skipped college to go play professionally in Italy, and although he wasn't so offensively succesful in the Euro pro leagues, he does have tremendous upside and a valuable experience under his belt playing against elevated competition). I think Jennings is also a good fit here, but the Warriors could go a number of ways with this pick - maybe taking big man Jordan Hill to solidify their frontline or taking another guard like Johnny Flynn or Tyreke Evans.
8. New York Knicks - Stephen Curry
ESPN Player Comparison: didn't give one, so I'll roll with Coach D'Antoni and say Allan Houston, although not as big or NBA-ready, give him time and he could become very special... in the Ray Allen / Allan Houston mold.
This could be wishful thinking, but it's certainly possible. Curry has expressed serious interest in playing for D'Antoni and the Knicks (who even stated that he's a BETTER shooter than Allan Houston) and would be a great fit for the 3-happy Knicks. If he is gone however, there's no need to despair for the Knicks have needs at virtually every position and there are a slew of talented guys out there - Arizona's 6'10" Jordan Hill (an athletic 4 man who could provide a big role if David Lee opts to leave New York), Memphis's Tyreke Evans (the dynamic, athletic SG), possibly even talk of the 7'1" Ohio State big man B.J. Mullens (unproven at this point but with tremendous potential). As a fan, I'm hoping for either Curry or a trade up to get Thabeet... but I have complete faith in Donnie Walsh (first time I've ever said that about Knicks management) to make a smart, fiscally responsible move with our eyes still locked in on the 2010 free agent bonanza.
9. Toronto Raptors - Tyreke Evans
ESPN Player Comparison: Jerry Stackhouse
If Evans is still on the board, the Raps would be crazy to pass on him. They will be in need of another backcourt guy if Marion decides to leave (Anthony Parker will also be a free agent, leaving them very thin in the backcourt behind Calderon) and Evans could be a solid fit in Toronto. Evans is a strong, NBA-ready guard who has been compared to Jerry Stackhouse and would be a nice asset for a struggling Raptors team.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Jordan Hill
ESPN Player Comparison: Ronny Turiaf
There has been talk of the Bucks eyeing Syracuse PG Johnny Flynn here, but I believe Jordan Hill will be a better player from the get-go. He's a solid 6'10", very good rebounder and defender and could solidify an already solid Milwaukee frontline with Bogut and Villanueva. Throw Jordan Hill into that mix and the Bucks could make some noise if they manage to hold on to Redd and Jefferson.
11. New Jersey Nets - Tyler Hansborough, PF
12. Charlotte Bobcats - Earl Clark, SF
13. Indiana Pacers - Johnny Flynn, PG
14. Phoenix Suns - Gerald Henderson, SF
15. Detroit Pistons - Austin Daye, C
16. Chicago Bulls - DeJuan Blair, PF
17. Philadelphia 76ers - Jeff Teague, PG
18. Minnesota Timberwolves - B.J. Mullens, C
19. Atlanta Hawks - Eric Maynor, PG
20. Utah Jazz - Chase Buddinger, SG
21. New Orleans Hornets - Sam Young, SF
22. Dallas Mavericks - James Johnson, PF
23. Sacramento Kings - DaJaun Summers, SF
24. Portland Trailblazers - Ty Lawson, PG
25. Oklahoma City Thunder - Terrence Williams, SG
26. Chicago Bulls - Omri Casspi, SF
27. Memphis Grizzlies - Toney Douglas, SG
28. Minnesota Timerbolves - DeMarre Carroll, PF
29. Los Angeles Lakers - Darren Collison, PG
30. Cleveland Cavaliers - Derrick Brown, PF
That's all for my first round prospectus, will be back after the draft with my percentages.