The New York Knicks have been consistently linked to NBA Draft prospects Malik Monk, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith. Which NBA players do they compare to?
With the eighth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks will be searching for the next big thing.
The Knickerbockers have been linked to multiple prospects from a variety of schools, and even countries. These candidates are equipped with traits that compare to some of the NBA’s most talented players.
The three prospects who seem to surface the most in rumors are Malik Monk, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr.
Phil Jackson could use another player like Kristaps Porzingis to help save his subpar legacy as team president of the New York Knicks.
However, he could ill afford to draft a player who turns out to be nothing but an absolute bust.
Malik Monk, Kentucky Wildcats
Position: Shooting Guard
School: Kentucky (Freshman)
2016-17 Slash Line: .450/.397/.822
2016-17 Season Averages: 32.1 MPG, 19.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.9 SPG
Comparison: C.J. McCollum Portland Trail-Blazers
Kentucky Wildcats guard Malik Monk just recently fell into the New York Knicks range, and the Knicks should be thankful for it. He’s furnished with some of the same traits as Portland’s star shooting guard.
Monk and C.J. McCollum are both undersized two-guards. McCollum was generally overlooked in the draft because of it. They both shoot the lights out and can score in many ways.
The pull-up jumper has been a weapon for the early portion of McCollum’s career, as it was for Monk in his stop at Kentucky.
However, Monk comes with a bit of a problem that the Knicks can’t afford to have. The word about Monk is that he struggles on the defensive end of the floor, and New York can ill-afford to have another problem on defense
Both of these talented shooting guards are tremendously gifted, however, and both could be All-Stars down the line in their careers.
Frank Ntilikina, Strabousrg
Position: Point Guard (France)
2016-17 Slash Line: .485/.431/.621
2016-17 Season Averages: 18.3 MPG, 5.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 SPG (Strasbourg)
Comparison: Patrick Beverly (Houston) / Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Frank Ntilikina is equipped with the defensive intangibles that Patrick Beverly has, but is also incredibly similar to the “Greek Freak” for a variety of reasons.
The Frenchman is measured at 6’5″ with a grim-reaper type 7’0″ wingspan. At 18 years old, he may still be growing, as well, which is very similar to the reports about Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Like Antetokounmpo, Ntilikina has raw offensive talent and uses his long strides and long frame to get the basket and shoot over their opponents.
The French guard also has the reputation of being an absolute lockdown defender. He utilizes every bit of his ridiculous length to shut down his opponents.
Ntilikina is an improving shooter sniping at a .43% clip from downtown. Although they play different positions, the Frenchman has a real chance to become a freak of nature in the NBA, just like the player being compared to him.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Position: Point Guard
School: NC State (Freshman)
2016-17 Slash Line: .455/.359/.715
2016-17 Season Averages: 32.1 MPG, 18.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.9 SPG
Comparison: Damian Lillard ( Portland Trail-Blazers)
Dennis Smith Jr. may have the highest ceiling of any New York Knicks prospect other than, maybe, Frank Ntilikina. His high-powered offensive abilities, as well as being somewhat undersized, make him the perfect comparison to Damian Lillard.
Both of these floor generals are very streaky, but can score in bunches. Smith showed at North Carolina State that, when he gets going, he really can’t be stopped.
However, character issues are a big reason of concern for Smith as it was reported that he displayed a carefree demeanor on defense.
Taking a risk in this year’s draft could prove unsuccessful for the New York Knicks. However, selecting the best talent available in this year’s draft may be the only rational option.
If he’s still available, it could lead to Dennis Smith Jr. in orange and blue.