Who Will the Knicks Select in the 2018 Draft?
Assuming a trade doesn’t occur within the next 24 hours for the Knicks to move up or down in the draft order, the franchise will try to find its next piece to aid Kristaps Porzingis by picking 9th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
With this in mind, I want to provide the five main candidates the Knicks will likely be selecting from at this position in the draft and important information and analysis about them.
I give some of my individual opinion of these players but seeing that people on television get these things horribly wrong, I simply provided facts and basic analysis on a player’s college performance, basic skills, and potential/ceiling that they could grow in to.
So, the five realistic options to choose from that will be available at the number 9 slot are Collin Sexton, Kevin Knox, Mikal Bridges, Trae Young, and Wendell Carter Jr.
Collin Sexton would be the clear most-likely pick for the Knicks if he played a different position. Standing at 6’2″, Sexton is a point guard, and the Knicks already have Frank Ntilikina, who was picked 8th overall last year, and may favor a wing player.
The Alabama freshman set the nation on fire this year, averaging 19 points per game with a 50% effective field goal percentage. Talking about his offense, he’s set to be a great scorer in this league based off of his skill set and performance.
Sexton possesses a solid 3-point shot that should translate into the league to at least make him a treat from behind the line and can use his strength and craftiness to get to the rim at will.
However, it has to be noted that he has a track record for taking very contested, poor quality shots around the rim and ill-advised 3-pointers when his team could get a better shot.
This and his weak passing ability are red flags because it raises questions about his decision making and playmaking ability, something one looks for in a floor general.
However, these flaws could be tolerable if he truly is a talented scorer, as seen in that more and more star point guards are just really good scorers rather than traditional playmakers and get assists off of the fact that defenses have to sag off of others to help with stop players like Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, or Eric Bledsoe, and a good pass then becomes available.
One of his greatest strengths is his defense. Although the guard is only 6’2″, he is very strong and has a 6’7″ wingspan. Combine that with his characteristics as a tenacious and aggressive defender, and he could be a defensive nightmare. I personally think it is acceptable to draft another point guard even if we already have Ntilikina, so Sexton is high on my list for who the Knicks should draft.
Reminds me of: Eric Bledsoe
Forward Kevin Knox just capped off his season as the best player on Kentucky. As good as he was this year, he still needs to “put it all together” to truly unlock his scoring potential and become what the Knicks would want him to be.
Also, there is a question as to whether he will be a small forward or a power forward. He played and attacks well from the wing but may be too slow on defense to guard other wings and be moved to power forward which he is not as physical for the position as one would like, not to mention this team already has a young star power forward in Kristaps Porzingis.
Still, he is a gifted scorer and has shown he can put the ball in the basket while slicing his way to the rim, using his soft touch for a floater, or even from behind the three-point line. Knox posted a 34.1% 3-point percentage, but I believe his shot can translate even better into the league because the jump shot mechanics are definitely there.
His defense, on the other hand, is very questionable and at times he falls asleep and gets beat backdoor. I would assume this can be fixed when you are getting paid millions to not fall asleep, but this does not take away from the fact that he has been a poor on-ball defender as well.
Still, I stand behind scouts who say that Knox’s stock should be rising, and I hope that he is still available at number 9 because I am leaning toward him as well as Sexton, due to his offensive star ability if he is able to put it all together.
Reminds me of: Tobias Harris or a poor man’s Kevin Durant
Mikal Bridges spent his junior year as a key piece in Villanova’s national championship run. To me, Bridges is one of the simplest candidates for a Knicks selection at number 9 in that you most likely know what you will get from him.
The consensus on the Wildcats’ wing is that he will develop into a very, very good role player. This may not sound like a compliment when there are potential stars in the midlottery, but the specific type of player this guy is is the most coveted type of player in the current NBA.
Bridges is essentially a 3 and D wing. He is not the best at creating his own shot but plays well off of others and can grow into a superb defender and shooter.
This season, he shot an outstanding 43% from behind the arc with a credible sample size of 3-point shots. Mikal also shows promise to be a very good defender because he was a part of a great defense in college, is athletic, and has a shocking 7’2″ wingspan.
Fizdale, being a good defensive coach in Memphis, could use him well. In this era, a player like this is a talent that every team wants, so the Knicks could opt in on this safe pick, even if his ceiling is lower than a Kevin Knox or Trae Young.
Reminds me of: Robert Covington
You already know about this man? Shocking. Trae Young lead the nation in points per game (27.4) and assists per game (8.7) in his only season as the point guard for the Oklahoma Sooners.
As indicated from these numbers, Young is a talented passer and gets most of his buckets from behind the arc. From this, the point guard is drawing comparisons to anywhere from Steph Curry to Jimmer Fredette.
He is arguably the biggest risk-reward player in the draft and has a higher ceiling than most of these other players. The star offensive potential is clearly there, but the things that would hold him back from reaching it are either his poor shot selection in taking bad 3’s or his athleticism leading to an inability to get by defenders and finish at the rim.
Going along with this, his lacking natural athleticism causes him to be a terrible defender. I am convinced that in his rookie year, Trae Young will be literally one of the five worst defenders in the league.
Even though he will never be a good defender or maybe even a decent one, playing with Frank Ntilikina, professional defensive stud, will create an ability hide Trae on defense.
I was debating whether or not to put him on this list because he is the least likely of these players to be available for the Knicks to take at the 9th pick. However, mock drafts such as The Ringer see him falling into our lap and he has expressed his desire to play for New York, and if the Orlando Magic pass on him at number 6, I can see him winding up on the board for us.
Reminds me of: Prime Brandon Jennings or a poor man’s Steph Curry
Wendell Carter Jr.
The last prospect that will most likely be available and a real candidate to be drafted by the Knicks is the center out of Duke, Wendell Carter Jr. While there is nothing that is a dominant strength in his game, there isn’t really a weakness either.
The main criticism to his game is he is not the most athletic player, which holds him back from being absolutely deadly in the pick and roll. He also appears to have a limited offensive game and in turn a limited ceiling because he is not a Mohamed Bamba-like defensive force.
The primary way he gets buckets aside from easy dunks off the pass is through the post, a method which is becoming less and less tolerable in the pace and space era of the 2010’s. This seems like I am down on the guy, but I certainly am not.
I actually got to meet Wendell the day I am writing this and I think he is not only a safer pick but a valuable young player. He shows potential to stretch the floor as he has great shooting mechanics and at the very least can have a spacing ability similar to LaMarcus Aldridge of the Spurs in that he can step back and be knockdown from midrange.
He also has little glaring weaknesses and this spacing makes him useful and easy to play alongside Porzingis. Also, his lanky frame has enabled him to get many buckets off of the pick and roll and hopefully he could boost his scoring numbers with this talent.
On defense, he is no slouch and is an above average rim protector and his mobility indicates that he could hold his own when switched onto quicker guards in the pick and roll (both attributes are coveted in the NBA). Overall, I think Carter Jr. could be a quality piece for a franchise aspiring to be a contender years down the line.
Reminds me of: Clint Capela
What the Knicks will do Thursday night is still an unknown, but one can be certain that they will have multiple talented prospects that each have their own way to fit into this team and system. Let’s hope the front office makes the right choice.