There has been much hand-wringing in New York about the state of the Knicks’ point guard play. Indeed, the options are Frank Ntilikina the recuperating Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith, who’s set to return after missing time because of a death in the family. Even when all are present and accounted for, those are not stellar options.
But we know this: The Knicks’ point guard of the future is not currently with the team. New York is 1-7, and with little pressure to win now, they’re giving ample time and opportunity to rookie R.J. Barrett both as a scorer and a ballhandler. The Knicks are not going to get a whole lot better which sounds grim here in November. But it will pay off in June.
Yes, it’s not too early to look ahead to the NBA Draft, especially if you’re the NBA’s worst team. When the draft comes around, the Knicks will find one of two things: either the No. 1 pick or the point guard of the future.
The top pick figures to be Memphis big man James Wiseman but as we saw last year with Zion Williamson, you can’t bank on tanking a season and coming away with the best player in the draft.
So it’ll be a point guards for the Knicks. This year’s draft is packed with them. There will be an ongoing debate over which lead guard is the best throughout the season, starting with Cole Anthony vs. LaMelo Ball. It’ll go even beyond that pair, however.
In the end, the Knicks will wind up with Wiseman or with a potential star at point guard. We checked in with a scout about which top point guard prospects would best fit with New York. Here’s what we found.
1. Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Scout says: “He has to show he can win at North Carolina. It’s the same thing as Ball—he was at Oak Hill (for prep school) last year and they did not have a great year and you always have to question that when you are looking at point guards. But he can play off the ball and that makes a nice combination with Barrett, who needs the ball a lot, too. He plays with a lot of speed and power and getting Anthony and Barrett out in transition, that’s a great, great combo. That’d be a fun young team.”
2. LaMelo Ball, Australia
Scout says: “He’s a good fit with the Knicks because he is a playmaker. Obviously, the team is going to have to deal with his dad and all the Hollywood BS in his game. He is a legitimate 6-7, maybe he’ll get to 6-8 and he can shoot it and pass. His shot should translate to the NBA. Couple questions though. His team in Australia, they’re terrible. He has some NBA guys on that team, Josh Boone, Aaron Brooks. But he’s not winning. You want to see winning when you are picking a point guard. And there’s, is he a distraction? That is the question.”
3. Theo Maledon, France
Scout says: “He has good size (6-5, with a 6-8 wingspan) and he has come along quickly in his development. I think he is probably the next tier down from Anthony and Ball but he is playing in a good league in France so he could move up if he has a good year. He would work well with R.J. because he can be a combo guard a little, like R.J. I’ve heard him compared to Dennis Schroder but this guy is better than Dennis Schroder.”
4. Nico Mannion, Arizona
Scout says: “If they were to get a free agent, if they had another scorer, then I think Mannion would be a guy they’d consider because he is a maestro. He just gets things organized for you, he is going to make the right decisions. He can score himself, he has a quick first step and he is very crafty at finding ways to finish. But he’s going to get the ball where it needs to be. Defense is going to be a problem for him. We’ll see how that comes along playing for Sean Miller. He’s going to be coached hard. He has a chance to be Top 5 but I am not sure he’s the right fit with R.J.”