Now that the playoffs are over for the Knicks, we can start to look towards the draft.
The Knicks host four picks this year, the 19th, 21st, 32nd, and 58th. Because of the shear volume of picks and the way they’re spread out across the board, it’s important to keep an eye on everyone, including Vrenz Bleijenbergh.
The history of these foreign unicorns is spotty for sure. You could get Giannis, Porzingis, Gasol, Gasol, or Jokic.
Or you could get Darko Milicic.
But because the Knicks are trying to find offensive star power and the sheer amount of picks they have, it would be prudent to spend one of them on a guy like this.
Vrenz Bleijenbergh’s Strengths
Vrenz Bleijenbergh (and I’ll give you $5 if you can pronounce that) on paper looks like a Durant-style offensive player.
Long and lean at 6’10, real shooting range, point-forward skills, and the potential to be a real offensive virtuoso.
Even ignoring their similarities as skinny, white, European, point forwards, try to compare and contrast Vrenz’ game to that of Aleksej Pokusevski’s:
They each have very similar positives and negatives to their names.
A giant with an outside game and point skills. Athletically, weight is his biggest concern, Vrenz leans toward the lighter side but he’s not as rail-thin as Poku is.
Should the Knicks draft Vrenz Bleijenbergh in 2021?
Vrenz doesn’t have quite the flair and wow factor Poku does offensively, but he has better fundamentals and a higher floor entering the league.
Part of why we love the freaky foreign guys is their potential for exceptional plays and weird angles. That’s all well and good, but sometimes the Knicks just wants a sound basketball player.
That’s not to say that Vrenz is a finished product, but he’s already shown NBA-ready qualities.
Quicker feet defensively, already more muscle mass, and a deceptively fast first step, Vrenz might be less entertaining than Poku, but he is already more polished.
Now, he’s still a project, but it’s his deceptive speed that will keep him alive in the league next year. It will allow him to play forward where his weight discrepancies won’t be as exposed.
All that said, his greatest skills are his passing and shooting at 6’10.
That’s the selling point, and quite honestly you don’t need much more than that as a draft prospect. He takes long strides to get to the rim and has soft hands at the cup.
He’s a five-tool offensive talent, let’s just hope he can translate to the NBA.
Vrenz Bleijenbergh’s Weaknesses
Obviously he needs to put on weight.
His advantages at 6’10 will be more or less nixed on the defensive end if he can’t push back against other front court players. He can play the wing, but his slight frame will limit his versatility and defensive impact.
He had decent percentages scoring and from three, but the one strange outlier in his EuroBasket stats was his free-throw shooting.
Only 10-19 from the line in the tournament and 5/8 in the Belgian league.
This may be a fluke because he shot 18/48 from three-point land, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Vrenz Bleijenbergh: How does he fit with the Knicks?
From a front office perspective, this would be getting the most bang for your late-first-round/early-second-round buck.
Most mock boards have Vrenz Projected in the 25-40 range in the Draft. It may be a stretch to take him with our 19th pick, but once we get into the 20s it’s anyone’s game, and that 32nd pick looks like the perfect slot to take him.
The Knicks’ biggest problem was secondary creation, offensive firepower, putting the basketball ball into the basketball hoop if you will.
That’s why Bleijenbergh is such a perfect pick for them. You get the upside of a creationary virtuoso at the price of an early second rounder or late first-round pick. It’s a steal.
Imagine a jumbo line-up of Randle, Barrett, Bullock, Bleijenbergh, and Mitchell Robinson.
Or a scoring lineup of five true creators; Rose, Barrett, Burks, Randle, and Bleijenbergh.
Having a player as unique as Vrenz allows Coach Tom Thibodeau to fully flex his imagination.
He’s risky on paper, but if Bleijenbergh pans out he could be a top-level talent.
With four picks to swing around Leon Rose has to look at the upside with a guy like this.
If he’s a flop, who cares?
You have three other rookies. If he hits, he’ll hit big, and you’ll look like a genius.