The Knicks desperately need an infusion of talent. Fortunately, New York has two first-round picks to work with in the 2020 NBA Draft.
If the Knicks want to make a leap into the playoff picture anytime soon, they desperately need to add talent in this year’s NBA Draft. The good news for fans in New York is that they have two first-rounders to work with. The bad news is that it’s going to be hard to find a gamechanger with either the No. 8 or No. 27 overall selection.
The team’s roster isn’t bare, but it’s not teeming with young talent either. R.J. Barrett had an uneven rookie campaign, but the organization seems dedicated to letting him grow at the off guard position. Mitchell Robinson only has one year left on his current deal, but he looks to be the team’s center of both the present and future. Every other position in the starting lineup seems to be up for grabs moving forward.
The glaring need on the roster is to find a point guard capable of elevating everyone around him. That need could change if the Knicks successfully land Fred Van Vleet in free agency, but even that signing shouldn’t stop the team from selecting a player they feel can become a difference-maker at the point.
1. Tyrese Haliburton, Point Guard, Iowa State, Big Board Rank: 11
Haliburton isn’t a can’t-miss prospect, but he could be the best lead guard who will be on the board at the No. 8 spot in the draft. The combination of his athleticism and work ethic could give the Knicks a much-needed boost on the perimeter.
The downside to Haliburton’s game is that he does not project to be an elite playmaker at the NBA level. In some ways, he may be too similar to Frank Nitilikina for the organization’s liking. Both players lack significant skills in the pick-and-roll game.
The former Iowa State star still projects as a solid fit for the Knicks if they want to leave the ball in Barrett’s hands. That is a risk in and of itself, but it could propel Haliburton up the team’s draft board.
2. Devin Vassell, Wing, Florida State, Big Board Rank: 6
The Knicks shouldn’t feel constrained by needing to take a point guard with this pick. If they show some positional flexibility, Vassell could be the guy at No. 8.
He may never turn into a top-shelf creator at the next level, but his ability to stroke the ball from the perimeter makes him a great fit in any offensive scheme. New York could absolutely use more spacing in their halfcourt offense to give Barrett more room to operate.
Vassell’s greatest lift to the Knicks could be on the defensive end of the court. He’s a high-effort guy with above-average length. Once he adds a little more strength to his frame, he should be capable of guarding high-level wings at the NBA level.
Learn more about Devin Vassell with our full scouting report.
3. Killian Hayes, Point Guard, France, Big Board Rank: 2
The Knicks would likely rush to the podium to select Hayes at No. 8 if he falls that far. He’s almost certainly going to be off the board at that point in the draft, but he could also be a target for New York if they package their two first-rounders in an effort to move up in the Lottery.
Hayes isn’t a perfect lead guard prospect, but his length and exceptional feel for the game give him star potential. That’s something the Knicks have lacked on the perimeter for quite some time. Drafting Hayes might require a bit of patience from the team’s front office and coaching staff, but he could pay massive dividends for the team in time.
Learn more about Killian Hayes with our full scouting report.
4. Malachi Flynn, Point Guard, San Diego State, Big Board Rank: 28
Interestingly, the Knicks should see better value available at the point guard position with their second first round selection. They may not have the patience to wait this long to address their biggest need, but if they do, Flynn could turn into a real positive asset.
He does lack the elite athleticism required to become a superstar, but his polish at the position gives him a chance to compete early in his career. His feel and passing ability give him a chance to become a solid starter. Don’t be surprised if he rises too much in the pre-draft process to stay on the board this long.
5. Tyrese Maxey, Point Guard, Kentucky, Big Board Rank: 9
Maxey’s greatest strength as a player is his competitive nature. That helps him overcome pretty mediocre feel on the offensive end. His ability to blossom into a plus shooter from the perimeter will likely define his ceiling as a pro.
Predictably, that has scouts all over the board on where he might land in the draft. The Knicks would be fortunate if he falls all the way down to No. 27. He’s an imperfect prospect, but the upside is high enough for New York to snap him up late in the first round.
Learn more about Tyrese Maxey with our full scouting report.