New York Knicks: Draft strategy can’t be best player available

New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks should have an early pick at the 2020 NBA Draft. The strategy can’t be to select the best player available.

In the NBA, teams generally draft the best player available rather than by position of need. In the case of the New York Knicks, the pick should be a player who most closely aligns with the culture that the organization is trying to build.

If defense, unselfish play and high IQ are the qualities you demand in your team, these should also be the qualities you look for in each and every player. You would pass on Carmelo Anthony and select Dwyane Wade.

Will the Knicks’ front office have the rhinoceros hide of Dave Gettleman and make the choice based on an overall plan, or will they cave in to fans and media clamoring for someone like Anthony Edwards?

If team culture is important, they should pass on Edwards. Yes, he is a scoring machine, but he doesn’t seem to fit in a defensive-minded, share-the-ball type of culture.

Last year, the Knicks could have—should have—had Zion Williamson or Ja Morant. RJ Barrett has not been the prize we had hoped. He is a promising youngster with the swag of a star, if not the game.

This year, there are a few ‘can’t miss’ players, but no immediate stars. Perhaps the Knicks fortunes will ‘revert to the mean’ and their 2019 sixth-place finish will result in a higher place in the 2020 NBA Draft order.

The loss of the NCAA Tournament has denied fans a closer look at the talent in this draft class. Even if the tourney had been played, some of the top players would not have been involved.

Last year, Chuma Okeke and Brandon Clarke became fan favorites at draft time because of the higher profile provided by the NCAA Tournament. That same opportunity for improving one’s draft stock will not be present in 2020.

LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton, and Théo Maledon are possible lottery picks whom the general American population has not been able to watch as extensively as they’d like. For many, YouTube highlights don’t cut it.

That poses the question: Should said prospects be praised as widely by fans as they tend to be?

Elfrid Payton is a very good PG, except in the eyes of those who value scoring above all else. Say what you will about LaVar Ball, but he sure knows how to develop talent. If LaMelo Ball is the best player available, then he would be the logical choice.

However, players who have been intensively scouted while competing in the NCAA have a greater reliability factor because they are a more thoroughly known talent.

As Edwards has already been scratched, Obi Toppin and Isaac Okoro jump to the top of the list. In a draft deep at PG, these two fill positions with less depth. Both check all the boxes as far as IQ, defense, character and unselfishness.

Both will be excellent NBA starters for a long time.

Point guard is the most important position on the team. It is the position LeBron James assumes when needed.

Marcus Winston may be the next Fred VanVleet. Will Halliburton et al may be the next Ja Morant, the next Luka Doncic, and so on, and so forth.

dark. Next. How should the 2020-21 New York Knicks look?

Let’s hope the New York Knicks are prepared to ignore the crowd and make the tough choices necessary to build a winner.