Villanova's Mikal Bridges


Schmeelk: The Draft Is Here - Final Thoughts!

John Schmeelk
June 21, 2018 - 10:22 am

The NBA draft is finally here and the Knicks are still a bit of a mystery. I posted some final week thoughts on what the Knicks might do on Tuesday, and for the most part those thoughts still stand. You can find it here. I haven’t really changed my mind since Tuesday but there are some new things that need to be addressed.

(We also did a full hour with Cole Zwicker on the City Game Podcast that you can listen to here.)

First, here’s my final ranking of the Top 10 players in the draft specifically dictated by what fits well for the Knicks. The links below go to detailed stories on the specific players listed.

  1. Luka Doncic
  2. DeAndre Ayton
  3. Marvin Bagley III
  4. Jaren Jackson Jr.
  5. Michael Porter Jr. (assuming the team has faith in the medicals, otherwise remove him completely)
  6. Trae Young
  7. Wendell Carter Jr.
  8. Mohamed Bamba
  9. Mikal Bridges
  10. Miles Bridges
  11. Kevin Knox

I know some fans wonder why Mohamed Bamba is so ridiculously low on this list, especially since Ian Begley linked a second meeting between Bamba and the Knicks to a potential trade up. The reason is simple: I don’t see any sort of a long term fit next to Kristaps Porzingis.

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While I see Carter’s physicality down low and excellent decision making and passing as a potential offensive fit next to Porzingis, Bamba doesn’t have either of those qualities. He is light in the lower body, like Porzingis, and depends on follow dunks and jump shots for all his points. He is not a post player and a developing jump shot is his best trait offensively. I think there is real bust potential for Bamba because of his lack of an offensive game and inconsistent motor.

Bamba can disappear at times on both ends of the floor and seems to glide out there sometimes. Defensively, he is a monster shot blocker with an inhuman 7’10 wingspan and he has good agility as well. Unlike Jaren Jackson Jr., however, I do not think he can switch 1-5 on pick and rolls. If you were starting a team from scratch he would be higher on my list, but not for the Knicks. He copies too many qualities of Porzingis.

The team that has been mentioned prominently in potential trade down scenarios is the Memphis Grizzlies, but I don’t think it is very realistic to expect something to happen. Even if the Knicks take on Chandler Parsons contract, the asset cost to move up would just be too high. If they did move up, Doncic should be the top choice and Bagley and Jackson Jr. would come next.

As for where the Knicks stand, I will trust Marc Berman’s report that the Knicks have decided on Mikal Bridges over Kevin Knox. I know they would be interested in both players if the top eight end up being chalk, and there’s no reason to think Marc is wrong.

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Here’s what I think the Knicks front office is thinking in terms of how they are ranking players that are realistic possibilities for the Knicks at #9:

  1. Wendell Carter Jr.
  2. Michael Porter Jr. (recent medicals may have made them sour on him according to reports, but I don’t know if that’s the case either way)
  3. Trae Young
  4. Mikal Bridges
  5. Kevin Knox

I think Carter is well ahead of the next four players on the list (in the Knicks eyes) and would be the easy pick for them if he is there. I do not think there is much separation between the next four guys on the list. All of them have significant risks and flaws.  

Porter Jr.’s back injury is a real concern for every team, but the realistic chance that he could be the best player in the draft will probably overwhelm the Knicks caution at number nine and force them to roll the dice.

Trae Young’s size and issues on defense don’t seem to mix with David Fizdale’s or the front office’s philosophy on how to build a team. He is not a positionless player and will be targeted on defense until he proves he can handle it. With all that said, his ability to shoot and pass will make him too hard to pass on for the Knicks.

>>MORE: Boomer & Gio: Trae Young Has High Hopes

Mikal Bridges is a very known quantity. He is an older prospect that will turn 22 in August, but is the type of defender and shooter at the wing (with a 7’2 wingspan) that teams crave. He should be a good starter in the league for 8-10 seasons. Here’s a stat for you courtesy of Ben Rubin at Mikal Bridges is the only player in the history of college basketball to have at least a 59.5% career two point percentage, a 35% 3-point percentage, an 83.5% free throw percentage and 150 made three pointers. THE ONLY PLAYER EVER!! Think about that for a second. He is a dead-eye shooter.

Kevin Knox is a good shooter and projects as a stretch four. He will turn 19 in August and is one of the youngest players in the class, which certainly leaves some room for improvement. He isn’t great off the dribble getting all the way to the basket, and struggled as a defender and rebounder at Kentucky. There is potential here though, especially if he turns into someone that can defend multiple positions. This is purely a projection pick.

The Knicks also select 36th. Here are some names to watch.

Unlikely to drop but would be great: Melvin Frazier, De’Anthony Melton, Jacob Evans

Realistic: Jevon Carter, Jalen Brunson, Hamidou Diallo, Bruce Brown, Justin Jackson

Final Prediction: The Knicks do not trade up and wind up with Mikal Bridges, though I do believe Trae Young dropping is a real possibility with either Kevin Knox, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander or Collin Sexton jumping into the top eight. I think the Knicks take Young over Bridges if he is there but I’m not positive. I think there’s a smaller chance Michael Porter Jr. falls but I’m not willing to bet on it either. I’ll still stick with my Jevon Carter pick in the second round.

Enjoy the chaos tonight. It should be a blast!

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