How the New York Knicks can land their next star

The Knicks Reddit page is at odds with each other, as it should be when it comes to the draft. There's a vocal majority who are keen on landing Frank Ntilikina, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. At the same time, many are keen to instantly write-off Dennis Smith Jr and Malik Monk, two perhaps more valuable pieces, due to flaws that have been largely inflated. 

The Knicks don't really have the assets to facilitate a trade up the order, so let's assume that Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are certainties to be off the board. Over the next few paragraphs, each hypothetical drafting situation will be broken down to show how the Knicks could land one of Smith, Monk or perhaps another prospect like Jonathan Isaac, Tatum or Ntilikina. 

The Sixers go the best player available

1. Celtics - Markelle Fultz
2. Lakers - Lonzo Ball
3. 76ers - Josh Jackson
4. Suns - Jayson Tatum
5. Kings - De'Aaron Fox
6. Magic - Dennis Smith Jr
7. Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac
8. Knicks - Malik Monk

At this stage, it seems like the Sixers, Kings, and Timberwolves will have the most effect on who the Knicks will be able to pick. There's been plenty of conjecture already at whether the Sixers will take Malik Monk at three, or whether they'd prefer to take the best player left on the board, which is in many minds; Josh Jackson. The Sixers have shown in the past that they're happy to take who they think is the best player, then work out the fit later, but it's likely they'll be a bit wiser after the Joel Embiid/Nerlens Noel/Jahlil Okafor issue. 

In this scenario, the Lakers take Ball (not a certainty but it seems like a logical fit) and the Sixers go for the athletic two-way wing in Jackson. The Kansas star looked solid from the NBA three-point line, but his free throw shooting was shaky, to say the least. Worst case scenario, Jackson is a vast improvement over Robert Covington. While he mightn't be the best fit next to Ben Simmons, he's still looking likely to be an excellent player that can co-exist without needing the ball a lot. 

The ramifications of that for the Knicks are huge. They'd need Monk to slip past the Suns (they already have Devin Booker), the Kings (they've got Buddy Hield), the Magic (they seem to love Evan Fournier, but an extra shooter could be great for them) and the Timberwolves (Monk is similar to Zach Lavine in many characteristics). 

Why Monk is a great fit

Monk has clearly the most projectable offensive game of all the prospects besides Tatum, Ball, and Fultz. Monk has an excellent three-point stroke and is capable of becoming 22 points per game scorer at the next level. He also has elite bounce and a developing secondary ball handler talent. His floor seems like it will be at that Eric Gordon level, but his ceiling could legitimately be a top 10 scorer in the league. Any high level shooting around Kristaps Porzingis makes plenty of sense for the Knicks, and he can fit into any offensive system. 

Dennis Smith Jr slips through the ranks

1. Celtics - Markelle Fultz
2. Lakers - Lonzo Ball
3. 76ers - Malik Monk
4. Suns - Josh Jackson
5. Kings - De'Aaron Fox
6. Magic - Jayson Tatum
7. Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac
8. Knicks - Dennis Smith Jr

The Magic have had Smith around for a workout and why wouldn't they? He's likely to be a dynamic scorer who would sell plenty of tickets if he and Aaron Gordon put their athleticism on show. However, teams have their concerns over whether his shooting will translate at the next level. His lack of defensive intensity is a concern considering his already short wingspan. The general public of Knicks fans are perhaps writing Smith off too easily because he had an ACL reconstruction before his first year of college. It's clear he still has elite athleticism, which means that recruiters should not be put off by that. 

Why Smith makes sense for the Knicks

The Knicks had a washed-up Steve Francis for a short period of time. They also had a post-prime Derrick Rose this year, which while it wasn't great on many levels, you cannot doubt that on offense he was fun to watch. Smith has a little bit of Francis about him. He's got the bounce, he is perhaps the second-best shot creator in this draft and his assist rate should be fine at the next level. Smith isn't the perfect prospect, but he's got a good chance to become a lower level all-star point guard. If the Knicks can get that at pick 8, that's a huge success next to Porzingis. 

Ntilikina rises up the boards

1. Celtics - Markelle Fultz
2. Lakers - Lonzo Ball
3. 76ers - De'Aaron Fox
4. Suns - Josh Jackson
5. Kings - Jayson Tatum
6. Magic - Dennis Smith Jr
7. Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac
8. Knicks - Frank Ntilikina

The Sixers may just fall in love with Fox based on his defensive potential, leadership qualities, floor general capabilities and elite speed. That would potentially leave Monk to slip, but that does not necessarily mean the Knicks will take him. 

Why Ntilikina makes sense for the Knicks

Of the top eight or nine prospects, Ntilikina is the hardest one to compare to a current player. On the Locked On Knicks podcast, Jared Dubin and Sam Viccine compared Ntilikina to Jrue Holiday. He doesn't have the speed that Holiday has, but he's got incredible length and he's a willing passer out of the pick and roll. 

Ntilikina could defend point guards and most wings, and he seems to have the basketball to be able to run the offense for stretches. He lacks the ability to create his own shot, but he is a solid spot up shooter. If the Knicks decide they want to take a two-way guard that will work well in the triangle, it seems like Ntilikina is the perfect fit. His ceiling perhaps isn't at the same level as a Monk or a Smith, but he looks more rounded than those two. 

As long as the Knicks land one of those three, or somehow manage to trade up and grab someone like Fox, it should be considered a successful draft. 


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