If Phil Jackson was never fired: 2019 NBA DRAFT
Knicks get the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft
With a record of 28-54 during their alternate universe 2018-19 season under Phil Jackson, the Knicks have the 5th best odds for the first pick in the 2019 NBA draft. The Dallas Mavericks, who finished 33-49 with Luka in real life, move up the lottery without him, pushing the Knicks down to the 5th worst record. The Hawks had the 5th best odds in real life, and after the lottery, they fell to pick number eight. As a result, the Knicks are picking number eight. They also have the Sacramento Kings’ pick at 14, acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
Knicks select Jaxson Hayes with the 8th overall pick
Jaxson Hayes, the athletic seven-footer from Texas, was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans at pick number eight in real life. With Phil Jackson and Luka Doncic in tow, the Knicks take the franchise rim protector at number eight to bolster their lackluster frontcourt. Although Jaxson projects as a long-term project rather than a short-term answer, he will play from day one as he fits well as a rim-rummer and alley-oop partner for Luka Doncic. The Knicks desperately need a strong interior presence, and Jaxson Hayes is the best big on the board.
Knicks select Brandon Clarke with the 14th overall pick
In real life, Brandon Clarke was selected with the 21st overall pick in the draft. However, he was projected to be a sure-fire lottery pick before the draft, raising questions over his slide down draft boards. These questions do not faze Phil Jackson as he needs to select a power forward given that Lance Thomas is a free agent, and Jarred Vanderbilt failed to establish himself as a keeper in his rookie season. Brandon Clarke is the best passing big man in the draft, and his athleticism fits well with the Knicks’ young core. The Knicks do not have to run plays for Clarke, and he will play his role as a defensive anchor and rim-running big.
Knicks select Tremont Waters with the 48th pick
Under Phil Jackson, the Knicks never make the Emmanuel Mudiay trade where they swap their rights to the Clippers’ second-round pick with the Denver Nuggets’ second-rounder. Instead of picking at number 55, Phil Jackson has the 48th pick and selects LSU guard Tremont Waters. He projects as the best scorer of the players available, and the Knicks snag him, hoping he develops into a spark plug for their weak bench.