Schmeelk: A Look At Some Possible Draft Targets For Knicks At No. 9

Might Porter Or Young Fall To New York?

John Schmeelk
May 16, 2018 - 10:06 am
Villanova's Mikal Bridges



Another draft lottery is in the books, and the Knicks have now gone 34 years without getting any luck with the NBA’s mystic pingpong balls. It should surprise no one the Knicks are picking ninth because the Knicks had about an 80 percent chance of staying put. Fans are disappointed the Knicks didn’t take advantage of their 6.1 percent chance of moving into the top three, but they should be equally thankful that the 13.4 percent chance of picking 10th or later didn’t come to pass. Picking ninth is a win given the odds going in.

Some fans are upset that the Knicks won five of their final 13 games, which is understandable, but it’s also important to understand that they lost nine straight and 17 of 19 before that ministreak. You can’t simply forfeit games down the stretch or tell your players not win. Teams will win games no matter how bad they are. The Bulls were actively benching their best players and still won games in March and April.

The Knicks went 7-21without Kristaps Porzingis, a .250 winning percentage. Projecting that winning percentage over 82 games would have given them 20 or 21 wins and the same or better odds than the Suns to the first pick in the draft. It was the fast start with Porzingis that really killed their lottery position.

There is no changing the past. The Knicks are where they are, and even though they won’t have a chance to draft someone like Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton or Marcus Bagley, they’ll still have a chance to pick a good or great player if they pick the right guy.

MORE: Schmeelk: Knicks Make Good Hire In David Fizdale

Here are the players who will be potential options for the Knicks at No. 9. I’ll start with the guys least likely to be there and work my way down.


Good: Seven-footer from Texas with a 7-foot-9 wingspan. Force as a rim protector and a good athlete.

Bad: Very passive and unrefined offensively.

When he will go: Fourth to 10th. I’d be surprised if he were still on the board outside the top seven.

My take: Even if he dropped, I wouldn’t take him. Too much bust potential. Not a great fit with Porzingis.


Good: Six-foot-10 with a 7-3 wingspan. Good defender who can also play center and protect the rim. Didn’t score a ton at Duke but showed range. High IQ. Good rebounder and passer.

Bad: May not be mobile enough to switch on defense. Not a great shot creator offensively.

When he will go: Fifth to ninth. I would be surprised if he were there when the Knicks picked, but he might be due to lack of elite traits.

My take: He could be a good fit for the Knicks as a two-way player next to Porzingis long term, and he should be on the Knicks' radar.


Good: Thought to be the best freshman in the country before the season started. Six-foot-10-inch player with wing skills and athleticism. Shooter and scorer.

Bad: Missed all but a handful of games due to back surgery, so there’s very little collegiate sample size. Some have reported he lacks elite intangibles.

When he will go: Fifth to ninth. I think there’s a legitimate chance the back injury scares people and he is there at No. 9, but I put it below a 35 percent shot.

My take: Might have the highest ceiling in the draft. Potential perfect small forward next to Porzingis. Back injury scares me, but I think you have to roll the dice.


Good: Special shooting and passing skills. Great offensive player. Ridiculous production. Quick.

Bad: Only 6-2 with a 6-4 wingspan and a small frame. Terrible defender. Not explosive. Can he win penetrating one-on-one?

Oklahoma point guard Trae Young

When he will go: Fourth to 10th. He might not go earlier than No. 6, leaving him as a potential drop to the Knicks, but I put it at under 50 percent.

My take: He’s the sexy home run pick. Could be a smaller Stephen Curry, or he could be Jimmer Fredette. Could transform a franchise, or never be big or athletic enough to start. Big-time consideration.


Good: Six-foot-7 with a 7-2 wingspan. Two-way player. Excellent spot-up shooter. Good versatile defender.

Bad: Lacks shot-creation skills. Not super athletic, twitchy or explosive. Older (21 years old).

When he will go: Eighth to 12th. Lacks elite athleticism, which will push the small forward from Villanova down the board.

My take: NBA skill set that mimics what Knicks front office says team needs: length, defense and shooting.


Good: Quick off the dribble. Penetrator. Tough. Smart. Defender.

Bad: Only 6-2 with a 6-7 wingspan. Does he have strength to finish? Lacks court vision. Not a great shooter.

When will he go: Eighth to 12th. His size and lack of shooting will keep him out of the first two tiers.

My take: Good skill set, but with Frank Ntilikina, last year's first-year pick, already on roster, not a good enough prospect to warrant pick.


Good: NBA frame. Good production at Michigan State. Three-point range. Multipositional forward.

Bad: Quick enough to guard small forwards? Not big enough to rebound at power forward? Tweener? Not a good shot creator.

When will he go: Ninth to 15th. What will his niche be in the NBA?

My take: Scary player for me. Not sure what his position is. Can’t create a shot on offense and not sure whom he can guard defensively. Stay away.


Good: Might be best wing athlete in the draft. Explosive leaper. Excellent defender. Good in transition. Plays smart.

Bad: Can’t shoot a lick. Cannot create his own shot. Will he ever develop offensively as a scorer?

Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith shoots over West Virginia's James Bolden at the Big 12 Tournament semifinals March 9, 2018, in Kansas City, Missouri.

When will he go: Eighth to 13th. If he works out at the combine, his numbers might be off the charts and send him up the board.

My take: Can he develop offensively? If he does, he could be great. Big risk because he is very raw. In the mix for the Knicks due to his excellent athletic traits.

Players on the outside look in, but might be elevated to be in the mix for the Knicks are small forward Kevin Knox and point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, both from Kentucky.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants and the world of sports.