Was there a player the New York Knicks targeted who could turn their franchise around? They stuck with their international flair in the NBA Draft with two Canadians.
On the night of the NBA Draft lottery New York Knicks fans left unhappy as their team, who was the worst team in the NBA a season ago, ended up with the third pick of the draft. The third pick is nothing to scoff at, but when the player at the top of the draft is as good as Zion Williamson is, the first pick was everything. The Knicks entered the draft Thursday night looking for a little bit of everything. The roster had so many holes that they were in the best player available mode with their two picks.
With the third pick in the 2019 NBA draft the New York Knicks selected Duke guard RJ Barrett. Barrett to the Knicks was a given considering he was the third best player in this draft, and the Canadian guard had been linked to New York since the draft lottery was over. Barrett has the potential to be a franchise changing talent. Standing at 6’7” he will fit in nicely with the rest of the wings in the NBA. The Knicks desperately need an Alpha on offense who can take over a game and create their own shot. Barrett checks both of those boxes.
The guard is not shy on the offensive end and will create and make shots even against the best competition. One of the more underrated aspects of the guards game is his ability to handle the ball, run the floor and create shots for his teammates as well as himself. Barrett has a big frame, and in college he was able to get that frame to the rim for easy finishes. The guard also got fouled at a prolific rate, that won’t change in the NBA. Barrett is a streaky shooter from three but has enough athleticism and is smart enough to drive the lane and get easy baskets. Where the Knicks drafted in the lottery, this was still a great pick and will have a long career. He is now the piece the Knicks will build around for years to come.
For their second pick of the night the Knicks drafted Ignas Brazdeikis from Michigan. This pick was a bit of a reach; however, the pick does come with some upside. The former Michigan forward is an undersized power forward who is good at quite a few things but not great at any. He was the offensive leader for Michigan and helped lead them to the top of Big Ten conference. Brazdeikis shows his upside on offense with a prowess for scoring the ball. He is also tough inside and can finish through contact. He will need to greatly improve his footwork, defense and long-range shot if he wants to make an impact for the Knicks this year. In time he could be a very good pick for the Knicks.
After the draft the Knicks signed three players as Undrafted Free Agents. They were able to get one of the bigger sleepers in the draft as a free agent. As of this writing the Knicks have signed Kris Wilkes out of UCLA, Amir Hinton from Division 2 Shaw University, and finally VJ King from Louisville. Wilkes is the player who has the most upside out of the three.
Wilkes much like Brazdeikis is a gifted scorer who can put the ball in the basket. He didn’t have the best numbers shooting the ball, but he has the athleticism and ability to be a successful NBA player. The Knicks have already received a great contribution for another undrafted player in Alonzo Trier. Wilkes can turn into a nice role player and could be a nice bench piece if he can carve out the right role. Wilkes does need to work on his defense and never shot above 40% from three at UCLA. The Knicks are hoping he develops into the “3 and D” guy many thought he could be in pre-draft workouts.
Hinton and King both signed Exhibit 10 contracts which sign the players though the summer league season. At that time the team can release them, convert to a 2 way deal or keep them on with a regular season deal. Hinton led Division 2 in scoring with just under 30 per game and many have said he is one of the top 3 guards in the class. King is a reach and is nothing more than a fringe NBA player. He will really need to impress in the Summer League.
Overall Grade: C+