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NBA Draft Preview Series – Now what?!?

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at New York Knicks

It’s been 1,825 days since the New York Knicks participated in the NBA’s postseason.  They have won 1 playoff series over the last 17 seasons.  Uno.  It takes a special breed of incompetence to consistently fail so abhorrently, and that’s precisely what the reign of Trust Fund baby Jim Dolan has forced the city of New York and its fans to endure.  Don’t worry, this will not be a 5,000 word slam piece on the organizational ineptitude of the Knickerbockers.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  As an ever-eternal Knicks optimist I still somehow believe that things HAVE to turn around at some point.  And with another top 10 pick in a deep draft to pair with the PorzinGod, why can’t that time be now?

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So let’s take a look at the Knicks options at the #8 spot in the upcoming 2017 draft.

 

OPTION #1 – Draft Malik Monk

 

The consensus by draft experts has been that the Knicks will select the Kentucky phenom if he’s still there to be had.  And unbelievably he’s somehow still enamored by the corpse who is Phil Jackson; Monk is saying all the right things to land in the Mecca as the shooting guard of the future.  He has all the scoring talent in the world averaging nearly 20 points per game while hitting at a 40% clip from 3 in his lone collegiate season.  Those 20 ppg didn’t come easy, he had a defensive target on his back each and every game especially after his 47 point performance in mid-December against eventual champion UNC.

And that last fact is what really impresses me about him.  Co all-everything freshman Mr. Fox was sidelined due to injury for three key SEC contests against tough opponents; Georgia, eventual Final Four bound South Carolina, and defensive minded rival Florida.  With both Florida and South Carolina ranking in the top 5 defensively by Kenpom, it’d seem Malik would have his hands full.  But Monk torched all three opponents scoring 32.33 ppg, shooting a blistering 64% from deep.  Most importantly, he led the Wildcats to all 3 wins single-handedly.

The only real knock on him is he’s a couple inches undersized for a shooting guard at 6’3.  But in today’s NBA, there are no positions anymore.  If you can ball, you can ball.  And we all know Malik Monk can do just that.

 

OPTION #2 – Draft Dennis Smith Jr.

 

The kid’s got talent.  So does everyone who’s projected in the top 8 in this draft.  The key is separating the superstars from the stars, and that’s where Dennis Smith Jr. comes in.  Everything about his game is impressive, he’s got great stats (18 ppg, 4.6 reb, 6.2 ast) and outstanding athleticism.  That 15-17 record though?  It’s cause for concern to stay the least.

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That’s not the only reason I’m not in love with Dennis the Menace; he possesses the ball way too long for my liking.  The NC State offense became the “everyone stand around and watch Dennis” show.  Cut to every Knicks fan shuddering in agreement at the thought of a hybrid guard version of Carmelo Anthony for the next 5 years.

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After the disaster that is Mark Gottfried, the kid needs a really good coach and system to teach him the intricacies of the beautiful game of basketball.  Given the last 17 years of Knicks futility with players like Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, I’ll take a hard pass.

 

OPTION #3 – Trade up, Draft De’Aaron Fox

 

Now I’m not saying it’d be easy.  But Phil Jackson and co. need to make every effort possible to trade up to the appropriate spot (#4/5) and take this kid.  If it costs them Willy Hernangomez?  So be it.  Throw in a 2nd rounder to push the deal over the top.  De’Aaron Fox has the highest ceiling in this entire draft class.  And please, please, PLEASE don’t tell me “he doesn’t fit in the triangle”.

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While I acknowledge Fox isn’t a sure thing, when you watch him fly up and down the floor his supernatural talent and athleticism are undeniable.  The easy comp is John Wall, but it’s easy because it’s the right one.  Both 1 and done’s from Kentucky who are both the same size, both speed demons, and both have a broken jumper.  At least that was the knock on Wall when he shot 32% from 3 his sole year as a Wildcat, yet he still went #1 overall in the 2010 draft.  So why isn’t De’Aaron Fox being looked at the same way?

John Wall (Kentucky freshman) – 16.6 pts, 6.5 ast, 4.3 reb, 1.8 stl, 4.0 TO, 46.1 fg%

De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky frosh)  – 16.7 pts, 4.6 ast, 4.0 reb, 1.5 stl, 2.4 TO, 47.9 fg%

 

Besides Wall averaging more assists yet more turnovers, those numbers couldn’t be more identical.  Fox also has 3 key things going for him that I need to point out.

  1. He’s a lefty.  We’ve seen it with James Harden and Manu Ginobili, lefties can be impossible to guard.  Especially when they’re flying down the floor at 150 mph and then pull the “Eurostep” on you which De’Aaron already so beautifully does.
  2. The floater.  It’s such an important asset for a point guard to have and develop, the ability to pull it out of your back pocket as a go-to move at the ripe age of 19 is astounding.
  3. Competitiveness/Confidence.  Kid’s got both for days.  You know the fact he’s being looked over and won’t be a top 3 pick will only drive this kid more.  He’s a gamer, just ask Lonzo.

In all honesty, Malik Monk is the safest pick.  You wouldn’t have to give up anything and take the kid with the highest floor.  If he stays healthy Monk will be an above average shooting guard in the NBA, there’s no question.  But his former teammate De’Aaron can become a top 10 OVERALL player and dominant force in the league.  And like they did with PorzinGod two short years ago, when it comes to unteachable ceilings it’s time to roll the dice.

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