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.
But if the Knicks end up staying put, would they entertain bringing four rookies into next season?
It seems uncertain given who’s calling plays from the team’s bench.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau has always valued his veteran players and likely would look at a season with four rookies as inhibitive of the team’s overall goal of returning to playoffs.
Still, Bleacher Report Draft Expert Jonathan Wasserman has New York not only keeping all four picks, but using all four on the guard spot in the year’s draft.
Wasserman’s Picks for NY
With the 19th overall pick, Wasserman has the New York Knicks taking fan favorite point guard Sharife Cooper.
Dubbed by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor as the best passer in the draft, the 19-year old is coming off a productive, but brief 12-game campaign at Auburn where he averaged 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game.
Next up, with the 21st pick, Wasserman has New York taking senior guard Chris Duarte out of Oregon University.
The 23-year old is valued for his three-point shot, after connecting on 42 percent of his jumpers from deep last season on his way to averaging 17.1 points.
Duarte is considered an instant offense, something the Knicks desperately need.
But there’s also a chance that could find that in the second round of this draft, where Wasserman has them taking two more guards at 32nd overall (Quentin Grimes, Houston) and 58th (McKinley Wright IV, Colorado).
It’s hard to see them taking fliers in the second round on a position well filled in the first, but stranger things have happened. New York could see Grimes as a can’t-afford-to-pass up prospect if they find him available at 32.
As Wasserman notes, he’s made a catapult climb on big boards everywhere after his performance at the Combine:
Grimes improved his stock dramatically in Chicago, looking like the best player on the floor during both scrimmages. Aside from his lights-out shooting, his feel for the game and IQ also popped and helped make it easy for a team to picture an early contributor.
Grimes averaged 17.8 points on 56% true shooting last season in Houston. He seems to project as a day-one bucket getter.
On the other side of the second-round, Wasserman has New York taking McKinley Wright, another player who improved his stock at the Combine last week in Chicago.
As ESPN’s Mike Schmitz noted afterwards, his efforts on the defensive end of the ball is raising his stock:
Wright’s defensive intensity caught the eye of NBA scouts. He routinely picked up 94 feet, got underneath bigger guards and proved to be a pest by staying attached, fighting over screens. Wright is also an excellent positional rebounder who can fill in the gaps on the offensive end as a cutter, driver, midrange shooter, occasional floor spacer and facilitator.
Both Grimes and Wright were dubbed ‘winners’ from the Combine by Schmitz and colleague Jonathan Givony.
For the New York Knicks to end up taking two guys who are currently skyrocketing big boards with their two second-round picks, well it’s hard to be mad at that outcome.