With two first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, Leon Rose and the New York Knicks front office have several different ways they can approach draft night later this month, including trading up into the lottery.
As Marc Berman of the New York Post reported last month, they’re interested in finding their way into the top-14:
They have two first-round picks (19 and 21) and two second-rounders (32, 58). Chief strategist Brock Aller will look to deal picks and money to move into the lottery, according to sources.
A number of teams are reportedly interested in trading down, largely those in the middle tier of the first-round, at the end of the lottery and late teens.
The Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans are all teams that have been reported at one point in time to have interest in trading down.
Do any of those three teams make sense as a trade partner for New York? Would the Knicks be willing to give up the assets they’d require to make a deal?
Regardless, a recent report suggests Leon Rose and company have pinpointed their top prospect and will continue scouring the trade market in an effort to land a higher pick in the coming weeks.
Moore: Knicks ‘Have Targeted Player in the Low Teens’
Everyone he’s talked to around the league expect the New York Knicks to move up in next week’s draft:
I asked five sources for a team in the first round most likely to move up, and they all said the Knicks. The Knicks have picks No. 19 and 21, along with two second-rounders and an extra top-ten protected pick in 2023 (from Dallas).
Moore’s reporting lines up with everything that’s been reported elsewhere, so consider it unsurprising largely.
But he followed that up with one new piece of intel, in that the Knicks may have pinpointed their top prospect:
Multiple sources said there’s a player in the low teens that they have targeted, but no one’s sure who it is.
As of today, it’s unclear who New York has their eyes on, but it’s worth mentioning that point guard Sharife Cooper is a name they’ve been increasingly linked to in recent weeks.
SNY’s Ian Begley reported earlier this week that the Knicks were “trying to gauge other team’s interest” in the Auburn product. Perhaps in order to see whether or not, or how far they have to move up?
Something to monitor with the 2021 NBA draft just 11 days away.
What the Latest Mock Drafts are Saying
None of the latest mock drafts would help to indicate who the New York Knicks could be interested in, outside of 19 and 21.
But they should still properly reflect a good idea of who will be available in the range of the “low teens.”
For the Knicks, who are already slated to pick at 19, that would mean anywhere from 16 to 18.
In his latest mock draft for The Athletic, Zach Harper has Josh Giddey, Chris Duarte, and Usman Garuba going in sequential order to Oklahoma City, Memphis, and OKC again.
For The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor has Kai Jones, Ziaire Williams, and yep you guessed it, Sharife Cooper going in that range in his latest mock draft. Maybe there’s some fire to this smoke after all.