In my last article, Knicks Draft Prediction, I had some fun and tried to guess what the Knicks were going to do. By no means am I a draft expert, but I do study how the team operates. Much to mine and many Knick fans’ surprise, the front office took a much different approach. Below is what I thought the team would do.
- Draft less than 4 players » wrong !!!
- Draft a CAA client » wrong !!!
- Draft a Kentucky player » wrong !!!
- Draft a young athletic upside player » wrong !!
But looking back, the Knicks’ approach was consistent to last year’s. It was my preconceived notions that were wrong. Below are the things they were consistent about:
- Trading back to acquire future draft picks
- Drafting older players
- Valuing production over potential
- Focus on character
Everyone including myself thought that the front office was going to select young athletic players with high ceilings that they had connections to. Which coincidently was what the Brooklyn Nets did. The Nets selected Cameron Thomas (LSU) and Day’Ron Sharpe (UNC), two very athletic one-and-done players with high ceilings, who also happen to be CAA clients.
So that tells you something about how the Knicks view the draft. They were fine going with players that are more likely to be role players instead of gambling on raw players with star upside potential. They also understand the mindset and character necessary to be successful in New York. Most young players are not ready to deal wit the pressure and scrutiny that comes with playing under the bright lights of the Madison Square Garden. Mature and grounded players are more equipped to deal with adversity. Scott Perry said it once, “A lot of guys want to live in New York, but a lot don’t want to deal with what comes with playing in New York”.
Most fans aren’t excited about the players the Knicks selected, especially because of where they were picked. But what if I told you that the top 3 players selected would turn out to have careers like Joe Harris, Goran Dragic, and Malcolm Brogdon? Every Knick fan would take that in a heartbeat. The 3 vets I just mentioned were all taken in the 2nd round and had similar concerns to the players the Knicks drafted.
I am not saying anyone of this players will turn out to be that good, but if you do the math, what the Knicks did makes sense. In the NBA, there are 30 teams with 5 starters, that is 150 players that start. Then there are the top reserves that play significant minutes, the 6th and 7th men off the bench. That is roughly another 50-60 players. So in the NBA there are roughly ~200 players that play significant minutes. Of all those players, only about 10 are considered star players that could lead a team to a championship. So only 5% are considered superstar players. Then there are another 20 players that are considered all-star quality, they can be the 2nd or 3rd best player on a contender. Those players only account for about 10% of the total that play significant minutes. That means that roughly 85% of NBA players that play significant minutes are role players.
NBA player categories
- 5% of NBA players that are superstars
- 10% of NBA players that all-star quality
- 85% of NBA players are role players
So if you’re one of the few big market team that has the ability to attract those elite players via trade or free agency, it makes sense to stock up on assets and fill out the roster with the right role players instead of gambling on raw high upside players. Now lets review the players the Knicks selected.
25th Pick – Quentin Grimes
When I saw highlights of Quentin Grimes I immediately thought of one of my favorite players, the ultimate 3&D wing, Klay Thompson. Not to say Grimes will ever be as good as Klay, but you see similarities. Both are tall guards that shoot well and can defend. Both don’t possess elite athleticism, but are high I.Q. players, that are technically sound with great footwork. The Knicks were in need of a catch & shoot wing to eventually replace Reggie Bullock. While Grimes won’t be as good as Klay, fans will be happy if he turns out to be some version of Joe Harris, but better defensively. Below are some reasons to like the Grimes pick.
- Fills need – shooter
- Production – Shot over 40% from 3 on volume
- Mature – 21 years old and overcame adversity
34th Pick – Rokas Jokubaitis
This pick came out of nowhere and surprised many. The Knicks already have a Euro point guard from the Spanish league in Luca Vildoza. While Jokubaitis is a fairly unknown player, basketball experts like him.
The fact the Knicks got Rokas Jokubaitis is mind boggling awesome. Love that kid!!! Scouting. Elite!
— David Zenon (@DaveZenon) July 30, 2021
Jokubaitis’s claim to fame is that he lit up LaMelo Ball for 31 points when they played against each other in Lithuania. He is a combo guard that can play on or off the ball. Not considered an elite athlete, but has a high basketball I.Q., and good size, 6’4″ 194lbs. Rokas has been compared to Goran Dragic because he is a fearless Eastern European lefty. What I like about this pick is that Rokas is only 20 years old and will be playing for one of the best teams in Europe, Barcelona. Below are things to like about the Jokubaitis pick.
- Fills Need: Dynamic ballhandler
- Draft & Stash: Will develop without taking roster spot
- Asset: Will increase in value by playing for Barcelona
- Mature: only 20 years old, but been pro since 15
- Accolades:2020-21 Euro League Best Young Player voted on by players
- 2020-21 Runner-up for Rising Star Award best U-22 player voted on by coaches
- 2020-21 Best Young Player in Lithuania 1st Division
36th Pick – Miles ‘Deuce’ McBride
McBride is a player that had been linked to the Knicks. The good news was that the Knicks were still able get their man at the 36th pick after trading back from the 21st and 32nd picks. McBride embodies all the things Coach Thibs looks for in a player. He is smart, hard-nosed, and loves defense. He fell into the 2nd round because there were concerns about his ability to create in ISO situations. But he is a hard worker with great size for a point guard, 6’2″ 195lbs with a 6’9″ wingspan. He has a great assist 4.9 to turnover ratio 1.8. He shoots well from 3, 41.4% and 81.3% from the free throw line. McBride is player that can come in and contribute right away because of his defense. Below are some things to like about pick.
- Fills Need: Ball handler
- Mature: Played 2 years of college ball
- Shooter: 41.3% from 3
- Size: highest rating for position by NBA Draft.net
58th Pick – Jericho Sims
There is not much to say about this pick, it is unlikely that Sims will make the team. He is one of the best athletes in the draft, especially for a big man. But after playing 4 years at Texas, a program known for producing Centers, he did not show any significant development. Teammate, and fellow big man Kai Jones, who is 2 years younger was drafted 19th, ironically with pick that belonged to New York. If the Knicks development program can somehow get Simms to add new skills to his bag, then watch out. But if a team wants to take a flyer on a young raw player with immense upside, the 58th pick in the draft is where to do it. Below are things to like about Sims’ pick:
- Fills Need: Back up Center
- Mature: 22 years old
- Production: great defensive player
- Athletic Ability: 44.5 inch vertical leap
- 2nd highest ever recorded in Combine history