The regular season is still in full swing with two months of games left to play, but the New York Knicks are already looking ahead. Having recently chosen Leon Rose as their new president of basketball operations, the team has begun preparations for the NBA Draft. At the moment, they appear to be looking in a very specific direction.
The Knicks (17-38) are currently in line to pick fifth, through their own selection, and 25th, with a pick acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers. Their targets with those picks are scoring guards, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Ideally, they would land a point guard of the future with their own high lottery pick and a 3-point shooter with the selection coming from the Clippers.
Two names reportedly on their radar are LaMelo Ball, who played this season in Australia, and North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony, son of former Knicks guard Greg Anthony. The idea would be to find a guard who can offset some of the scoring burden on No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett and provide spacing to help him grow.
Ball, at least at the moment, doesn’t do that. At 6-7, his size for the position is rare and his ball-handling and feel for the game are both elite, but he shot only 25 percent from behind the arc in Australia. Like his brother Lonzo, he will enter the NBA with an unorthodox shooting motion, but Lonzo’s improvement as a shooter this season could give the Knicks hope for long-term improvement. Anthony projects as a better shooter and scorer, but his freshman season at North Carolina was interrupted by a knee injury. There is also the chance that he returns to school, which his father has said is a possibility.
Where the Knicks land in the NBA Draft Lottery will go a long way in determining who they wind up with. If they earn the top overall selection, for example, they would likely consider Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, viewed by many as the best overall scorer in the class. If they were to slide in the lottery as they did last season, their options would be limited by an already weak class.
But on paper, the idea here is sound. The Knicks appear set at center for the foreseeable future with Mitchell Robinson, and despite his struggles, Barrett is likely a keeper on the wing. Finding a point guard who works alongside the two of them is the next logical step in this rebuild, and while this draft class lacks for overall talent, its deepest position is ball-handling guards.