Another year, another disappointing NBA Draft Lottery night for the New York Knicks as they remained rooted in the No. 9 spot after the ping pong balls were all sorted out.
The Knicks had over an 80-percent chance of owning the pick in the lower portion of the top-10, though there was a minuscule six-percent possibility the team could sneak into the top three.
It wasn’t meant to be though as the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks will be the first teams on the clock in this year’s draft come June.
In case you missed it, here is the first 14 picks following the draft lottery:
1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets)
9. NEW YORK KNICKS
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons)
13. Los Angeles Clippers
14. Denver Nuggets
Now the Knicks are once again confronted with trying to make the right pick in a lower draft slot of the lottery. Their unwillingness to tank, which included wins down the stretch against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, has put them in a position to possibly miss out on a generational talent.
Luckily for them, this year’s draft class provides plenty of depth, which means they could be coming away with a star if they play their cards right. It is already known what the Knicks are looking for, too, as president Steve Mills disclosed to MSG Networks that he will be looking for an athletic wing talent, most likely a small forward, to add to his team’s talent pool.
The most logical prospect that will likely be available is Villanova small forward Mikal Bridges, the 6-foot-7 two-time national champion quite possibly being the best two-way talent available in this year’s draft class.
His offensive game from three-point range has quickly caught up with his shut-down perimeter defense — something the Knicks have desperately needed —as he shot almost 44-percent from downtown last season. He is most dangerous as a spot-up shooter, which will put a heavy reliance on New York’s point guards, whether it’s Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay or Trey Burke, to create space and find him when open. Regardless, he would provide the Knicks with a long-distance threat other than the aging Courtney Lee and reserve Lance Thomas.
Add in a clutch gene that has seen him sink some big shots and the Knicks should have Bridges as their top priority as Carmelo Anthony’s true replacement.
But there is also Michigan State’s Miles Bridges that provides an intriguing option, though he provides a different kind of game and is a bit of a wild card, something the Knicks don’t need as they attempt to continue developing Ntilikina and Mudiay.
Miles is an inch shorter than Mikal, but has the ability to play power forward. The Knicks don’t necessarily need that as Kristaps Porzingis (when healthy) prefers to play the 4 while Enes Kanter (if he re-signs) would be the team’s starting center. However, Michigan State’s Bridges is what we call a “tweener” as the team that drafts him won’t really be sure what position he can play until he acclimates to the pros.
What can’t be disputed is his athletic ability. Bridges is a freak athlete that can not only jump out of the gym for highlight-reel dunks, but can add a strong presence on the boards. His offensive game is continuing to develop, but it isn’t consistent, especially from the outside.
Still, he is an aggressive gamer who plays with fire, something that will be greatly appreciated at Madison Square Garden, home of a franchise that has rolled over and played dead for the past 17 years. It just depends if the Knicks believe whether or not he can fully make the move to the small forward spot.