ESPN mock draft has Knicks selecting BIG EAST Most Improved Player with No. 42 pick

It’s common knowledge by now that the New York Knicks have the No. 11 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but their second-round pick hasn’t received much attention. New York will pick No. 42 in the second round.

In years past, the Knicks have selected solid players in the second round, like Jericho Sims in 2021 and Mitchell Robinson in 2018. Now, Robinson’s due for an extension and if he doesn’t sign one with New York, he’ll enter free agency as a big name on the market.

The Knicks will have the chance to draft a player like Robinson, who worked his way into the starting lineup.

In ESPN’s latest mock draft (subscription required) that was released after the draft lottery, Jonathan Givony has New York choosing Marquette’s Justin Lewis at No. 42.

Should the New York Knicks draft Marquette forward Justin Lewis at No. 42?

The six-foot-seven forward with a seven-foot-two wing span averaged 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 steals in the 32 games that he played in for the Golden Eagles as a redshirt freshman. Lewis shot 44% from the field, 34.9% from the 3-point line, and 76.1% from the free-throw line.

In 2020-21, he played in 21 games and his statistics went up in every category during the 2021-22 season, which is why he was named the BIG EAST Most Improved Player.

Lewis was also named to the All-BIG EAST First Team after he led Marquette in scoring and rebounding.

His career-high came on Jan. 26 in a 73-63 win over Seton Hall. Lewis finished with 33 points (11-of-19 from the floor, 4-of-7 from the 3-point line), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals.

The 20-year-old is a proven scorer, but he needs to work on being a more consistent scorer. For instance, Lewis shot 28.6% from the field on Feb. 26 and followed that up by shooting 61.1% on Mar. 2.

In the NCAA tournament, he shot 2-of-15 from the floor (13.3%) for 6 points in a 95-63 loss to UNC. That being Lewis’ final collegiate game likely left a sour taste in his mouth which could help to fuel his game at the next level.

Lewis is both a good rebounder and defender, but along with his shooting, he also needs to improve his ball handling skills. In today’s NBA, players in the frontcourt are more likely to be good at both handling and passing the ball so Lewis’ game is going to need to evolve a bit.

The Baltimore native would be a solid addition to the Knicks, whether it be as a backup for RJ Barrett or as someone who could step in to help fill the void left by Julius Randle and/or Obi Toppin if one of them, or both, were to be traded this summer.