With the trade deadline now having passed, media pundits are quickly shifting their attention toward the 2023 NBA Draft and in a recent mock by Bleacher Report the New York Knicks are seen snagging some much-needed perimeter scoring help.
Though they shipped out the rights to their own first-round selection to Portland in the Josh Hart trade executed on February 8, Leon Rose and company still find themselves in possession of at least one potential top-30 pick in this year’s draft and, considering how the draft board is currently projected to be constructed, writer Jonathan Wasserman believes the Knicks could look to nab 20-year-old UConn product Jordan Hawkins with said luxury.
“Shooting 44.9 percent off screens and 47.1 percent on spot-ups, Hawkins comes off as a plug-and-play shot-maker with one of the draft’s most bankable shooting skills,” Wasserman wrote.
Measuring in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds, the 20-year-old has an ideal build for a modern-day two-guard while his on-court skills recently had an anonymous coach raving about him to The Athletic’s Seth Davis, stating that he’s already proven himself worthy of making it to the NBA.
Now in his second season with the Huskies, Hawkins is putting forth a tremendous campaign whilst sporting impressive averages of 16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on a whopping 40.0% shooting from distance.
With his play this season, Hawkins is listed as a candidate to take home the 2023 Jerry West Award, an accolade given to the nation’s top shooting guard in Division 1 men’s college basketball, and projects to be an early-to-mid first-round selection should he wind up declaring for this year’s NBA Draft.
New Knicks Wing Off to a Strong Start
Though a prospect like Jordan Hawkins may end up being a realistic target for the Knicks as we inch closer to draft night, as things currently stand it appears the club already has its wing position firing on all cylinders, particularly now with the recent acquisition of veteran, Josh Hart.
Now in his sixth year in the association, the 27-year-old has proven himself to be a steady two-way presence when on the hardwood and, during his young tenure donning the orange and blue threads, he’s already capturing the hearts of the New York fanbase with his all-around production and high-end efforts.
Though we may only be two games into his new-found tenure with the Knicks, simply put, Hart has been playing lights out and is currently posting averages of 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.5 steals per game on 65.0% shooting from the floor and 66.7% shooting from distance.
On top of this, he’s sporting a defensive rating of 108 and a defensive box plus-minus of 5.4, both team-highs.
While it may be a bit too early to predict what type of impact a player like Hart will ultimately have on this team, there are some like former NBA forward Richard Jefferson who believes he can help guide Tom Thibodeau’s squad on a rather deep playoff run.
Knicks Big Still Not Cleared for Contact
It has been 27 days since Knicks fans last saw starting big man Mitchell Robinson suit up for the team and, per a February 13 report by SNY’s Ian Begley, his absence is expected to linger on heading into the NBA All-Star break as he has yet to be cleared for contact.
“Mitchell Robinson hasn’t been cleared for contact yet. But he’s making progress. Robinson was on court with Othella Harrington a few minutes ago working out. Knicks will send people with Robinson during the All Star break if he doesn’t stay in NY during break to continue rehab,” Begley tweeted.
Upon initially fracturing his thumb on January 18, expectations were that the big man could end up missing just three weeks though, as we inch closer to it being a month since his last appearance on the hardwood, his rehabilitation timeline seems to be up in the air.
Before sustaining his injury, Robinson was having a solid season for the Knicks, as he was posting impressive per-game averages of 7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks on 67.4% shooting from the field and boasted a team-best defensive box plus-minus rating of 1.6.