As the New York Knicks prepare to take on the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they’ll soon have news on their two upcoming first-round draft picks.
ESPN Draft Analyst Jonathan Givony reported on Monday that the NBA will hold a coin flip on May 25 to determine all tiebreakers in the upcoming 2021 draft.
Both the Knicks’ first-round pick slots will be decided. So in the middle of their first playoff series in eight years, they’ll receive news on the upcoming draft, too.
As it stands today, the New York Knicks will have two picks in the middle of the first round, just outside of the lottery.
They’re slated to have either the 19th or 20th pick, and either of the 21st, 22nd, or 23rd picks.
Among the teams between which it will be decided is their first-round opponent the Atlanta Hawks (19/20) as well as the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers (21/22/23).
Players listed at each of those slots in last year’s NBA draft are listed below:
- 19th – Saddiq Bey (Detroit, via Brooklyn)
- 20th – Precious Achiuwa (Miami)
- 21st – Tyrese Maxey (Philadelphia)
- 22nd – Zeke Nnaji (Denver)
- 23rd – Leandro Bolmaro (Minnesota, via New York)
All of those players aside from Bolmaro have seen time on the NBA court this season, with both Achiuwa and Maxey playing roles on Eastern Conference playoff teams.
Potential First-Round Targets
In his latest mock draft for Bleacher Report, 2021 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Projections with Regular Season Complete, Jonathan Wasserman went through and made a selection for each of the 30 upcoming first-round picks.
When it came to the New York Knicks, he selected Tre Mann out of Florida with the 19th overall pick and Tennessee’s Jaden Springer with the 23rd overall pick.
With all of Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina headed for free agency, they’ll be in search of positional depth as well as a starting point guard ahead of next season.
So it’s not surprising to see Wasserman insist on them drafting a lead guard, albeit with both picks.
Each of the two guards project to be first-round selections, with Mann ranked 18th and Springer ranked 28th on ESPN’s Top-100 list of prospects.
Don’t let the disparity on ESPN’s board fool you, Wasserman considers them both capable of immediate contribution.
On Mann at 19th:
With two first-rounders and an early selection in the 30s (via the Detroit Pistons), the Knicks figure to be active on the phones to package picks and move up. Regardless, Mann could give them extra creation and shot-making with his ball-screen play and off-the-dribble shooting. He still has more to prove as a playmaker, but in the short term, the Knicks figure to target a free-agent veteran to run the offense now that they’ve suddenly entered win-now mode.
And on Springer at 28th:
Though scouts aren’t convinced about Springer’s lead-guard potential, versatility and defense should earn him minutes and paychecks. Despite lacking blow-by burst, the 18-year-old could become a valuable rotation piece for his spot-up shooting, passing off the dribble and ability to pressure ball-handlers.
Mann’s coming off a strong sophomore season with the Seminoles where he averaged 16 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
And Springer is committing after his lone season at Tennessee. As a freshman, he averaged 12.5, 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.