Is Ignas Brazdeikis another second-round steal for the New York Knicks out of the NBA draft?
New York Knicks picked two players in this year’s draft, with RJ Barrett receiving all the attention but second-rounder Ignas Brazdeikis could be another home run. Remember how Mitchell Robinson turned out?
Brazdeikis could be an impactful player and the Knicks even traded up to draft him. The question, though, is how does he work into a crowded rotation, especially with a full 15-man roster of guaranteed contracts? The short answer: shooting.
As a freshman for the Michigan Wolverines, Brazdeikis averaged 14.8 points and shot nearly 40 percent from the three-point line. In the summer league he flashed promising potential dropping 30 points against the Phoenix Suns. He finished July with 18 points 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists over the last four games. The best part was Brazdeikis making 2.8 three-pointers per game while shooting a sizzling 58 percent from the behind the arc.
A 6-foot-7 frame makes Brazdeikis the perfect fit in today’s position-less NBA, to play either the three or four position. His shooting will get him on the court but the effort at the other end will secure a role.
Brazdeikis will have competition from the likes of Marcus Morris, Kevin Knox, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett to a certain extent; but his shooting and confidence from the perimeter will force head coach David Fizdale’s hand. The Knicks were one of the worst three-point shooting teams last year, so having Brazdeikis take 20-22 minutes a night would provide more spacing for players like Barrett and Dennis Smith Jr to operate.
The Knicks’ front office may have uncovered another gem in Brazdeikis and his path to getting minutes is his outside shooting. Barrett is clearly the better prospect and talent, but I can see a path for Brazdeikis to find more minutes in pivotal moments because he is comfortable playing off the ball.
For players like the 20-year-old rookie, the transition will be smoother because of his ability to make shots from the perimeter. His strength is a weakness of the Knicks and that will help him carve a role with this team and surprise many people.