NBA draft data makes Knicks' first-round series win that much more impressive

Leon Rose is a genius!
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The New York Knicks first-round series against the Sixers wasn't your typical No. 2 versus No. 7 playoff matchup. Philadelphia fell in the standings after losing Joel Embiid to knee surgery, but he returned at the end of the regular season. On paper, the teams were more even-matched than a casual fan would think.

In terms of star power, the Sixers had the upper hand with the reigning MVP. Embiid's the only MVP who hasn't made it to the conference finals, and that trend continued this year, thanks to the Knicks.

New York is led by star point guard Jalen Brunson, who received his first All-Star honors in February and is a lock to make an All-NBA team. The Knicks are without Julius Randle, who hasn't played since he dislocated his shoulder in January. As Josh Hart said, enough people haven't discussed Randle's absence. Luckily, he made the trip to Wells Fargo Center on Thursday and watched his teammates secure their trip to the semifinals.

Randle was the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but because he's out, Tommy Beer pointed out that New York didn't have a top-15 pick play in the first round.

Leon Rose is a genius for constructing perfect Knicks roster

Brunson, New York's best player, was the No. 33 overall pick in 2018. The Mavericks let the guard slip through their fingers, as he signed a four-year, $104 million contract with the Knicks in 2022.

Donte DiVincenzo was the highest draft pick, as he was selected No. 17 overall by the Bucks in 2018. Since then, he's played for the Kings and Warriors. Like other non-homegrown Knicks, he found the perfect home in New York.

Mitchell Robinson, the No. 36 pick in 2018, and Deuce McBride, the No. 36 pick in 2021, are the only rotation players the Knicks drafted. Robinson and McBride's development in NYC has been amazing to watch. The latter signed a three-year extension at the end of December and is averaging 11.3 points in the postseason.

Leon Rose deserves his flowers (plus so much more) for assembling the perfect roster. The players he's brought in since he took over in 2020 weren't drafted by New York but embody everything that the city is. Rose has proven that you don't need to mortgage your future to build a winning team. He has the Knicks in one of the league's best (if not the best) positions.

Props to the front office!