The New York Knicks’ need for a point guard and upgrade in offense is no secret.
Despite the Knicks having its best season since 2013 this year, it was evident that they still needed to improve their roster to truly be considered one of the East’s elite teams — especially during the playoffs.
When head coach Tom Thibodeau appeared on ESPN’s telecast for last month’s NBA Draft Combine, he — unsurprisingly — first mentioned defense in regards to building the Knicks’ foundation. He then went on to note a need to add to shooting and offense.
While including picks in a trade package is a likely possibility, New York could very well find a player who can fill its point guard and shooting voids in the NBA draft. One of those players is Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois.
According to SportsNet New York, Dosunmu was one of several draft prospects who worked out for the Knicks on Tuesday. A guard known for his scoring, Dosunmu is projected to be taken somewhere in the range of the late first round to early in the second round. So he is likely to be available to the Knicks at either of their first-rounders, Nos. 19 and 21.
Prior to declaring for the draft, Dosunmu starred at Illinois for three seasons. His all-around play helped him make national headlines, especially during this past season.
Across 32 games, the guard posted averages of 20.1 points, 5.3 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 35.1 minutes. His minutes and scoring averages were both team-highs.
Furthermore, Dosunmu’s play was integral in helping Illinois win the Big Ten Tournament. The conference championship was the program’s first since 2005, when former NBA guard Deron Williams played at Illinois.
Dosunmu’s numbers and impact were good enough to earn him the recognition of an Associated Press First-Team All-American, becoming the first Illini to achieve such an honor in history, per Illinois Athletics.
He was named the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year, chosen as the USA Today National Player of the Year and honored as a NCAA First-Team All-American in addition to being a finalist for the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Naismith Trophy.
When Dosunmu was at the NBA Draft Combine, his height was measured as 6-feet, 3.5-inches without shoes and 6-feet, 5-inches with shoes whereas his wingspan is listed at 6-feet, 10.25-inches.
After working out with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dosunmu spoke with reporters and emphasized his ability to play on “both ends” of the court as “a complete player.”
His statistics at Illinois show that.
He rebounded well for his position with an average of 6.3. He assist number were good at 5.3 per game as was his 48.8% shooting from the field. His 39.0% on 3-pointers is respectable, and he proved his ability to be an aggressive scorer with his 5.1 free throw attempts per game.
If he translates those skills to the professional level, the Chicago native could make a name for himself as a reliable combo guard in the league.
CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger said positive things regarding the guard’s scoring and playmaking abilities:
Ayo Dosunmu is one of the most polished scorers in the draft. If his 3-point shooting can hold up it will take him to the next level, but he’s still incredibly valuable as a mid-range jump shooter and pick-and-roll playmaker.
Dosunmu could be a compelling choice to Thibodeau and the Knicks from a defensive perspective as well. His draft profile on NBA.com highlighted the potential he has — especially given his 6-foot-10.25 wingspan — and the growth he has made:
Dosunmu was more consistently solid off the ball and active on the glass last season than he was as an underclassman. Making strides with his frame, he held his own guarding multiple positions.
In a mock draft, Zach Harper at The Athletic noted how Dosunmu, albeit a good playmaker, needs refinement in that area as well as with his 3-point shooting:
He’s a solid enough playmaker, but he’s a little sloppy with the ball and much more of a scorer than anything. His 3-point shot came around this year, but he didn’t even attempt three 3-pointers per game.
Additionally, Dosunmu has proven his ability to get to the free throw line with over 5 attempts per game in his last season at Illinois. But a 78.3% free throw shooting percentage is low for someone at his position. So he needs to work on improving at the charity stripe to make himself a more effective offensive player.