For the time being, the New York Knicks will be making their first selection of the NBA draft with the No. 19 pick. But there’s a chance the Knicks will find themselves on the clock even sooner than that.
With a 41-31 finish this past season, New York were the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Even with a postseason appearance, the Knicks lost their first-round series to the Atlanta Hawks 1-4.
So while progress and improvement are finally being made in New York, there is still work to do for the Knicks to become a legitimate threat in the league.
If the Knicks are able to trade their way up in the draft, then it could give them a better chance at drafting Oregon shooting guard Chris Duarte — whom ESPN’s Seth Greenberg mentioned to the New York Post could be a potential target for the Knicks.
Mock drafts have had Duarte predicted to be selected somewhere between mid to late first round. But there’s a chance he could be drafted earlier thanks to his long-range shooting skills.
Duarte enters the NBA draft following two seasons at Oregon. Standing at 6-feet, 6-inches tall, the senior shooting guard was Oregon’s star player this past season. Before playing for the Ducks, he competed in the NJCAA for Northwest Florida State College.
In his senior season, Duarte posted averages of 17.1 points, 2.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 34.1 minutes per game. He was his team’s scoring leader and came second in minutes over the course of his 26 games. He was recognized for his exceptional play by being named the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year and the Associated Press Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Duarte was Oregon’s best scorer, shooting an efficient 53.2% from the field this past season. His 42.4% shooting on 3-point field goals also made him Oregon’s best 3-point shooter. Berman referred to Duarte as a “3-point shooting machine.”
He’s also an active defender, having averaged 1.9 steals per game as a senior.
Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area recently compared Duarte to Klay Thompson and also expressed his belief in Duarte’s NBA readiness:
Duarte’s skills should translate immediately to the NBA. He has shown he is a multi-dimensional shooter, a savvy driver who makes up for his lack of athleticism with physicality and a tough defender who forces turnovers through effort and intensity.
This skillset could give Duarte a future in the NBA as a 3-and-D player, who could surely find value on a Tom Thibodeau-led team.
At 24 years old, Duarte is old for a rookie, which presumably limits his potential in the NBA. But this could be seen as a positive to Thibodeau, who has no problem giving more minutes to older, more experienced players. The Knicks could also benefit from having a rookie who has a more developed game and doesn’t need time to grow.
In regards to his weaknesses, NBADraft.net mentions limited athleticism and lack of speed. He also needs to work on caring for the ball better; he averaged 2.3 turnovers per game during his senior season.