With the Knicks‘ playoff chances for 2019/20 essentially dead, the team has its eye on the 2020 draft class. And according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks’ scouting staff has been informed that the top priority for the club’s lottery pick is a scoring point guard.
Despite using their 2017 lottery selection on Frank Ntilikina and acquiring former top-10 picks such as Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., the Knicks have been unable to secure a long-term answer at the point guard spot in recent years. It remains to be seen whether New York will find its answer in this year’s draft, but there should be some options, especially if the team remains in position to pick in the top half of the lottery.
Berman singles out LaMelo Ball as one possible target, noting that Leon Rose was expected to be Ball’s agent at CAA before Rose agreed to become the Knicks’ next president of basketball operations. Cole Anthony (UNC), Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky), and Killian Hayes (France) are other young guards who figure to be on the Knicks’ radar on draft day, says Berman. All those players are projected to come off the board between No. 4 (Ball) and No. 12 (Hayes) in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link).
With the Knicks’ front office in a transition period, it can be tricky to know what to make of reports like these, since it’s unclear whether they reflect the preferences of interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry or incoming head of basketball operations Rose.
However, Berman writes that the Knicks’ aggressive pursuit of D’Angelo Russell at this month’s trade deadline was under Rose’s “consultation,” which suggests the veteran agent has had a voice in the front office even before he finishes tying up loose ends at CAA and officially joins the franchise. Russell, of course, would have perfectly fit the description of a scoring point guard.
According to Berman, the Knicks’ other priority in the draft will be a swingman with three-point range, something that RJ Barrett (.318 3PT%) hasn’t yet shown. Berman notes that New York could use the Clippers’ first-round pick to target that sort of player.