The NBA Draft is this Thursday, and if you follow the Knicks you might have heard that they don’t have a selection, as of now. In case you live under a rock, the refresher is: SELFISH CARMELO ANTHONY robbed them of ALL their assets back in 2011, when the Knicks should have realized the whole Carmelo Anthony thing wouldn’t work out and that three years down the line, they pick would be in the lottery of one of the best-projected drafts in years, because they should have realized they may have had a chance at then 15-year-old Andrew Wiggins. Anywho, the Knicks are reportedly trying to get into the draft somehow, whether it be by dealing someone like Iman Shumpert or purchasing a late first round/early second round pick. This is all speculative, of course, but here are some guys they could target if they find themselves with a pick on Thursday:
P.J. Hairston – SG/SF – University of North Carolina/Texas Legends
Let’s start with Hairston, one of the few guys in this draft class the Knicks have shown legitimate interest in and have had work out for them. Hairston is projected as a late first round or early second round player, so he could be available for the Knicks should they grab a pick in that range. Hairston is a bit of a unique case for a draft-eligible player; he was suspended in December of last year by UNC for receiving impermissible benefits, and the school did not seek to reinstate him. Prior to that, though, he was one of the team’s top players, leading them in scoring as a sophomore in 2012-13. His college career done, he headed to the NBA D-League with the Texas Legends, where he continued his scoring ways. He was one of the top fast-break players in the league, and did his half-court damage in spot-up situations. He isn’t heralded much as a defender—NBADraft.net’s (admittedly often wonky) NBA Comparison is Isiah Rider. But if Phil Jackson is interested, you’d have to think there’s some things he likes about Hairston’s defensive potential.
Patric Young – C – Florida
Another prospect projected in the early-ish second round area that has garnered tangible interest from the Knicks, Young is coming off a successful 4-year career at Florida under Billy Donovan. Young is a bit undersized for an NBA center, but is built like an absolutely freakish Adonis and has a 7-1 wingspan. At the college level, he was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, and turned in some good performances in Florida’s recent, latest run to the Final Four. Put simply, Young isn’t going to have a high ceiling when it comes to offense. His senior season saw his usage rate at its highest, but his efficiency at its lowest despite getting nearly all his touches in and around the rim and in post-up situations. But there’s no doubting the Knicks’ need for some effective defensive size, and if Young is to have a successful NBA career, it’s probably as that.
Tyler Ennis – PG – Syracuse
Marc Berman of the New York Post says the Knicks have interest in Ennis, but he didn’t work out for them as it’s highly unlikely he’d fall to where the Knicks could get to in this draft. I suppose if the Knicks could get to OKC’s 21st pick by dangling Iman Shumpert they’d have a chance, as DraftExpress has Ennis projected to go 19th. Ennis would instantly become a fan favorite, simply because he’s a young point guard who is not named Raymond Felton. Ennis is also not thought of as a score-first point guard; that coupled with his decent jump-shooting ability (35.3% from 3-point range last season) would seemingly make him a fit in the triangle. I think any point guard that elicits some interest from Jackson is intriguing for Knicks fans, and playing under Derek Fisher could likely only help someone like Ennis become adept in Jackson’s system. A concern, as with just about any player coming out of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone system, is Ennis’ one-on-one defending ability.
So far, those are about the only players the Knicks have reportedly shown interest in (their interest in Ennis fleeting at that). Surely there are others, and Knicks fans can play fantasy GM and envision who they’d take if the Knicks were able to get into that late first, early second round area. Someone like UCONN’s Shabazz Napier, like Ennis, would be an exciting get. Jordan Clarkson of Missouri is an athletic combo guard that could be a replacement for Iman Shumpert, and Mitch McGary would be a lot of fun as a Knick. Or the Knicks could bring in Russ Smith, pair him in the backcourt with J.R. Smith, and help expedite the apocalypse.