The New York Knicks won just 24 games in the 1984-85 season. The Knicks’ efforts and abilities were laughable and the fan base was completely embarrassed. Following the horrors, the Knicks selected basketball legend Patrick Ewing in the 1985 draft with the first overall pick. Slowly but surely the wounds began to heal as the Knicks became a force to be reckoned with in the late 80s and well into the 90s. In due time, the Knicks were back, and it was because of the draft.
Now, the Knicks look ahead as they wish to forget the most abysmal season in franchise history. Everyone wants to know one thing: What’s Phil Jackson going to do with the fourth overall pick?
Thanks to the uncertainties of the NBA Lottery, Knicks fans are very concerned with the team’s spot on the draft board. With the second-worst record in the NBA, the Knicks sit at fourth hoping that one of three major names remain undrafted before their spot at the podium. Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell are the three biggest names in this draft, and the Knicks will simply hope that one of those names remain unannounced — because any one of them would be an incredible pick.
Most mock drafts have Kentucky’s Towns going to the Minnesota Timberwolves. As Towns is widely regarded as the best prospect in this draft, that pick seems all but certain at this point. But with the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, it’s a bit more difficult to foresee whether they want Russell out of Ohio State or Okafor of Duke. The Golden State Warriors’ title has challenged the precedent of big men being vital to a team’s success, but the professional elegance of Okafor has got to be tempting for the Lakers. His discipline and style of play under the basket have many believing he can be the next Tim Duncan.
If the Lakers go with Okafor, it’s likely the Knicks can kiss their hopes of getting Russell goodbye. The Sixers are desperate for point-guard help after trading away Michael Carter-Williams, and the idea of Russell manning the point for years has to be tantalizing. But if the Lakers go with Russell, is it a lock that the Sixers take Okafor?
Most experts would say yes, but what of Emmanuel Mudiay? The Sixers’ desperation for a point guard may overrule their desire for Okafor (or even another big like Kristaps Porzingis). Despite his setbacks, the Sixers just drafted Joel Embiid at center last season and still have the versatile Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt as well (plus Dario Saric overseas). With such a young frontcourt, the Sixers could possibly either trade down for the acquisition of outside players, or take Mudiay, who’s somewhat of a mystery. Mudiay elected to play overseas in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers instead of playing in the NCAA. He’s regarded as the second-best point guard in the draft behind Russell and has major upside.
The Knicks at No. 4 have a “what if” clause. If Okafor or Russell are magically available at that point in the draft, that’ll be the pick. But if they’re not, the Knicks have to be prepared to either A) draft someone like Mudiay or B) trade the pick for some immediate starters and later picks in the draft. With rumors swirling around Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns, it’s a real possibility a trade could happen. After losing Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic, the Suns may be looking to start from scratch.
If it comes to that, the Knicks have a major decision to make. After a horrific season, the fans will be desperate for any sort of immediate success and would likely be okay with a trade. But if Mudiay develops into someone special, the Knicks will be kicking themselves for years to come.
With only five current members of New York’s roster signed for the 2015 season, there’s plenty of room for free agency signings, and what better to lure a player then a young prospect? Provided the Sixers don’t do anything unpredictable (they’ve been known to in recent drafts), it’ll likely come to this sort of decision. Draft Mudiay? Draft somebody else? Or trade down in order to get someone like Bledsoe? It’s a tough call, but if it comes to that, the Knicks have had their answer for weeks now.
It’ll all be unveiled on draft night.