NY Knicks Draft Strategy: Consider RJ Barrett in making your pick

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RJ Barrett, New York Knicks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New York Knicks can draft the best player while also finding the right fit to complement their young core.


After selecting a full-time head coach, the New York Knicks will set their attention on the 2020 NBA Draft. Leon Rose has assembled a front office of smart basketball minds to help him navigate an important draft in which the Knicks will make up to three selections.

How should the new front office approach the draft? Should they focus on the best player available or the best fit for their roster?

In talking to NBA draft expert Spencer Pearlman, he thinks a tiered approach helps teams do both.

“I personally think [using tiers] is better than just a pure ranking system,” says Spencer Pearlman, scout extraordinaire and contributor for The Stepien. “When picking within a tier, you can select the player that best fits your team because, in theory, they’re all ranked the same.”

This is how the Knicks should be thinking: best player available that also fits. And I’m not talking about positional fit, necessarily; I’m talking about fit within the organization/culture, the coach’s system, and with the cornerstones already on the roster.

Leon Rose should make that “cornerstone” aspect a priority. That’s what I believe this draft should be about: finding players who can complement and enhance their young cornerstone. (With all due respect to Mitchell Robinson and apologies to Frank Stans everywhere, you know who I’m talking about).

RJ Barrett showed this year that he has both the physical ability and mental makeup to be New York’s next big star. With a mismatched roster, multiple coaches, and in-season turmoil, he still produced what must be considered a successful rookie campaign. Now it’s time to push him to greater heights. Choosing the right coach is the first step, but acquiring players who can help maximize his effectiveness might be the most important step.

To that end, the Knicks’ draft should focus on choosing the BPAs that possess these three qualities:

  1. Plays Without the Ball – RJ’s shown potential as a ball-handling, playmaking wing.  Having a big wing that can initiate offense is paramount in today’s NBA (and has been for a while now). So whether it’s shooting, slashing, or both, someone who can play off RJ and be effective without the ball is vital to helping him reach that potential.
  2. Plays Defense – The Knicks have young players with defensive upside, RJ included. The better defenders around RJ, the better RJ’s defense will be (Plus, more good defenders means less defensive responsibility on your scorers).
  3. Can Serve As a Secondary Playmaker – When RJ’s off the ball – spotting up in the corner, posting a smaller guard, filling a lane in transition – this player needs to be capable of making the right play (RJ’s percentages this year were…not good. This would help with that).

Let’s now take a look, with Spencer Pearlman helping us out, which prospects fit these qualities.

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