On June 23rd, the New York Knicks selected Trevor Keels with the 42nd pick in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft.
Since then, the former Duke Blue Devil has been receiving uplifting words from not just his former coaches, but the media as well.
In a recent article by the New York Post written by Zach Brazier, it was stated by Duke assistant coach Chris Carrawell that the Knicks landed a player who has a first-round pick type of upside in Keels.
Carrawell didn’t stop the praise there as he continued to say this about Keels:
“He competes, man. Trevor really has the potential to be a really good defender once he learns the NBA game. He can really guard the ball. When he’s locked in, he does a good job of putting pressure on the ball, and he’s not bad off the ball as well.”
Everything that Carrawell has said up until this point should get the Knicks organization, as well as the fans, excited.
However, there was something that Carrawell said that significantly stood out in this article:
“If he stays with it, and gets an opportunity and improves, I compare him to Marcus Smart.”
Can Knicks’ Trevor Keels develop into a defensive-minded stud similar to Marcus Smart?
For a second-round pick that will likely be on a two-way deal in his first year or so in the NBA, it’s unfair to make a comparison like this, especially on a Knicks team that will have a logjam at the guard position going forward.
Not to say that Keels won’t have a successful career, but making a comparison to the Defensive Player of the Year who just reached the NBA Finals is a little much with all things considered.
Keels definitely possesses the physical tools that Marcus Smart does, but there are things that Keels needs to improve on if he wants to find his footing in the league.
His shot from behind the 3-point arc has more questions than answers. However, considering Smart shot 29% from three during his time at Oklahoma State between 2012-2014, Keels will be just fine.
It’s also important to consider how difficult it is to get playing time under Tom Thibodeau, which was displayed constantly throughout the course of last season.
The Knicks already possess young talent, plus the fact that players such as Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Cam Reddish had a difficult time finding the floor doesn’t make me confident in Keels seeing any runtime. I don’t envision New York keeping Keels long-term, given the current outlook on the roster.
Keels is a phenomenal player, and I’d like to see him thrive in the league after showing people he could coexist with first-round picks Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore Jr, Mark Williams, and AJ Griffin at Duke.
This may mean that Keels would be better off somewhere else, considering all the drama that circulates around the New York market.
Should the Knicks’ offseason fall apart, this could be an entirely different story. Until we know exactly what’s happening in New York, it will be tough knowing if Trevor Keels will thrive under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
Keels will suit up for the orange and blue in the NBA Summer League, which will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
His summer league debut will be on July 8th, when the Knicks will face the Golden State Warriors on ESPN2.