The NBA Draft is on June 28, one week from today. Currently, the New York Knicks still only hold one draft pick: the 48th, which puts them in the position of once again looking for a steal in the second round. While they could potentially try and move up in the draft by making a trade, there hasn’t been any definitive word, so as of now, it seems that they Knicks will stay put.
DraftExpress’s Mock Draft currently has the Knicks taking Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom with the 48th pick. Johnson-Odom is a 6’2″ shooting guard coming off an impressive senior campaign in which he averaged 18.3 ppg, on 44.7% FG, and 38.5% 3FG. Johnson-Odom is a sharp-shooter off catch-and-shoots and pull-up jumpers. To add to his dangerous outside game, he is equipped with a 215 lb frame, a 40″ vertical, and a jawline that would make Marlon Brando blush. Offensively, Johnson-Odom has the perfect game to complement the myriad Knicks scorers who do their work inside the arc.
But back to the elephant in the room (or, really, lack thereof): Johnson-Odom is just 6’2″, some say 6’3″. If Johnson-Odom was a combo guard, a la Jason Terry, the problem would be negated. Players of Johnson-Odom’s stature have typically carved out fairly successful careers in the NBA, at times playing the role of scoring point guards, at times playing like undersized shooting guards. However, Johnson-Odom, despite his point guard frame, rarely plays as a point guard. Over his three seasons playing at Marquette (he didn’t play his freshman year), Johnson-Odom never averaged more than 2.7 apg, but had a usage percentage (USG%) of 27% his junior and senior years.
Likewise, the problem is compounded by the Knicks’ (potential) depth at the shooting guard. While much of the roster remains up in the air, J.R. Smith may opt into the second and final year of his contract, Landry Fields (who despite being a natural small forward, has been fairly productive as a two-guard in the NBA) may be re-signed this offseason, and Iman Shumpert will be returning from a torn ACL in December or January. If the Knicks were to draft Johnson-Odom, they would potentially have three or four shooting guards all trying to earn a spot in the rotation.
But the upside for Johnson-Odom is undeniable. Not only could he have immediate impact as a reliable catch-and-shooter on the perimeter, Johnson-Odom is a tenacious, physical defender who rebounds well for his size, and was impressing scouts and GMs during workouts because of his defensive presence, according to Jared Zwerling on the Buckets Over Broadway podcast.
Of course, given all of the positives of Johnson-Odom, it’s quite possible that a team could select him earlier in the draft. The only real deterrent is that Odom is undersized and may struggle in the bigger NBA.
So, like all draft prospects, there are pros and cons, and all we can do is wait to see how it turns out.