The NY Knicks are trying to create a long-term contender. We have heard it said many times, championship teams are built through the draft. While that doesn’t seem like the case of late since the favorites to win the championship: Lakers, Nets, and Clippers, were all built around players acquired via free agency or trade, but that is the exception, not the norm.
But, aside from the 3 teams just mentioned, the best teams in this era, the Warriors and Spurs, acquired most of their core players through the draft. The team with the best record this season, the Utah Jazz, was also built through the draft.
However, the Knicks seem to favor the team-building model of their rival across the river and the two L.A. teams. That has been their main issue over the past 40 years, an unwillingness to patiently develop their own players.
If you go back and look at some of the best NY Knicks teams that didn’t win a championship, you will notice they were always a great player short of being the best team. Even though Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau have the cap space to do a quick rebuild, they will still need to do well in the draft in order to reach contention status. That is why the 2020 draft was so important, as it might be the last time the Knicks will have a good lottery pick in the Leon Rose/Tom Thibodeau era.
NY Knicks: the 2020 Draft
The Knicks hit a home run by trading back to the 25th pick to draft Quickley, which most draft experts had pegged as a mid-2nd round pick. The Obi Toppin pick on the other hand has come under a lot of scrutiny. I will not criticize Leon Rose for selecting Obi since he felt he was the best player available and Randle looked more like a salary dump than an all-star at the time.
All the great players that the Knicks have missed out on were because they were drafting for need instead of talent. If you go back and look at past drafts you will realize how few great players are available every year. So you have to secure the 2-3 great players that each draft produces regardless of position. The draft is all about talent acquisition.
It’s easier to trade from an area of strength to fill a hole than to acquire a great player in free agency. So unless the Knicks are able to trade either Julius Randle or Obi Toppin to fill another need we as fans have to ask ourselves, could the Knicks have done better in the draft?