Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
The New York Knicks received something of a win during the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, landing the ninth selection in the upcoming draft.
It certainly beats falling out of the projected slot, especially with the front office and new head coach David Fizdale needing to fix the point guard position and generally improve the situation around Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis aside, nailing the draft with a top-10 pick could help the Knicks match the stature of the city, helping them become an attractive free-agent destination once again at a time major names such as LeBron James are headed to market.
After securing a projected outcome, let’s take a look at the biggest rumors surrounding the Knicks.
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If it isn’t viable to address point guard with the ninth pick, the Knicks could turn to something perhaps as pertinent—replacing Carmelo Anthony.
It’s easier said than done, obviously, but the front office seems to like a pair of notable small forwards in the 2018 class in Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the rumors: “If the Knicks stick at their current ninth seed, Villanova small forward Mikal Bridges, fresh off an NCAA title, will probably be available, and they have interest. They also are intrigued by the larger upside of Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.”
Either would make sense for the Knicks and would put in heavy minutes right out of the gates. Villanova’s Bridges put up averages of 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds last year while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor over 32.1 minutes, checking in at 6’6″ and 210 pounds.
Michigan State’s Bridges is a bit raw but presents more upside in a 6’7″, 225-pound frame a season removed from averaging 17.1 points on 45.7 percent shooting over 31.4 minutes.
Granted, both guys have to fall to the Knicks to qualify, and the draft process is a long one with plenty of stock changes. But it’s clear finding a sheer scorer with upside is the name of the game if the Knicks look at forward.
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If the Knicks decide to go a different route, fans might want to get to know the name Collin Sexton.
Sexton, a one-and-done player from Alabama, is the type of point guard the front office seeks to run the offense. He’s a high-upside prospect, and he’s right to enter the draft after just a single season in large part because teams like the Knicks won’t be able to pass on what he could become at arguably the most important position of all.
For the Knicks, it’s going to come down to whether the Crimson Tide product is an upgrade over what they already have, according to Berman: “One NBA source close to the Knicks brain trust told The Post they must decide if the Alabama guard is an unquestioned upgrade over what they already have in Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke.”
Sexton certainly offers quite a lot to a point-needy team, as he’s 6’3″ and 190 pounds and in his debut collegiate season managed 19.2 points, 3.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds on 44.7 percent shooting. He’s a speedy two-way player who can create, but he suffers similar problems as some of the guys on the Knicks roster given his struggles from range.
Emmanuel Mudiay, after all, is the former No. 7 pick by Denver who on his career shoots 31.7 from deep. Trey Burke is a former No. 98 pick hitting 33.9 percent of his attempts since 2013 and Frank Ntilikina, while far from a finished product after being the eighth pick a year ago, shot 31.8 percent from deep as a rookie.
The new decision-makers in place will have to weigh whether an investment in Sexton’s skill set will pay off in the long run and if they’re willing to wait for it to arrive. Either way, it’s clear this far along in the draft process what the Knicks would like to do.
Rounding out the Coaching Staff
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
While not as exciting as potential prospects the Knicks could draft, the front office still needs to wrap up the process of selecting the coaching staff.
According to ESPN.com’s Ian Begley, Fizdale and Co. will consider Howard Eisley as part of the staff. He worked under Jeff Hornacek, so a bit of continuity there would make some sense.
The report also noted former Fizdale understudies Keith Smart and Nick Van Exel could also join, though the latter seemed to shoot down the idea on social media when asked.
While this seems like simple housekeeping a team needs to address after a coaching change, the reality is it is one of the most important pieces of the offseason for the Knicks.
The who and why of the finalized coaching staff will have an impact on how free agents view the organization. Those names will also play a huge role in the development of draft picks, as well as budding talents such as Ntilikina. And since Fizdale wants to bring his position-less approach, they’ll be key in helping find interesting double-point guard schemes and other innovations to the Big Apple.
While it’s all eyes on the draft right now, Knicks fans will have to hope Fizdale can get the guys he wants to solidify what could be a long-term coaching staff.