Knicks rookie's NBA player comparison means he could turn into a draft steal

Yes, please!
New York Knicks, Kevin McCullar Jr.
New York Knicks, Kevin McCullar Jr. / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The New York Knicks entered the 2024 NBA Draft with three picks but, after a flurry of trades, walked away with four players. Their second-to-last pick, Kansas' Kevin McCullar Jr., is a player who was New York's selection in several mock drafts.

The 23-year-old averaged 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in 2023-24, shooting 45.4% from the field and 33.3% from three. He was mocked as a late first-round pick, so the Knicks snagging him at No. 56 was a pleasant surprise. His age could be what caused him to slide down the draft board.

McCullar Jr. received high praise from Norm Roberts, who spoke with the New York Post on Wednesday. Roberts is an assistant coach on Bill Self's Jayhawks staff and explained why the guard will fit in seamlessly with the Knicks.

"He probably has as high of a defensive IQ as any player I’ve ever been around in my life. And he’s tough as nails, so he’ll go guard a 6-foot-9 guy or guard a 5-foot-11 guy. So that, to me, is a guy that will fit right in with who they are and what they do."

Norm Roberts, The Post

Even better, Roberts compared McCullar Jr. to one of New York's most beloved players.

Kansas assistant compares Kevin McCullar Jr. to Josh Hart

Josh Hart quickly won over the hearts of fans after the Knicks acquired him in 2023. He went on a historic run in the 2024 playoffs, playing 48 minutes in three games. Hart makes the hustle plays that coaches love.

Roberts was asked about the Hart-McCullar Jr. comparisons and confirmed that he thinks they are true.

"I coached against Josh Hart when he was at Villanova, and they are very similar players."

Norm Roberts, NYP

Who would've guessed that the Knicks would select another version of Hart? McCullar Jr. fits New York's tough-nosed, defensive-minded culture.

Because he's a rookie, he won't be a regular face in Tom Thibodeau's rotation. However, his defensive IQ should help him stand out to the head coach. If McCullar Jr. can develop a three-point shot, he could become a valuable 3-and-D player. While that might be too much to ask, it'd give him longevity in the league.

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