Villanova forward Mikal Bridges


Schmeelk: Knicks Should Like What They've Seen From Mikal Bridges, Wendell Carter

Reviewing Potential Draft Targets In NCAA Tournament

John Schmeelk
March 26, 2018 - 1:31 pm

Last week, I looked at which players to watch in the rounds of 16 and eight in the NCAA tournament. With the Knicks nearly solidified into the ninth spot in the NBA draft lottery, let’s see how some of the players they may be choosing from fared in recent days.

Texas A&M sophomore center Robert Williams: Williams scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, blocked three shots, had two steals and dished out three assists in the Aggies’ blowout loss to Michigan in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. With Williams’ college career likely over, he has a fairly high floor but low ceiling. He has an NBA body and should be a good pick-and-roll screener, finisher, rebounder and defender at the NBA level. In my opinion, I do not believe his skill level is high enough to be deserving of a top-10 pick in the NBA draft in June.

Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox: Knox scored just 13 points in 34 minutes against Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday to go along with eight rebounds. He made his first 3-pointer of the tournament, finishing 1-of-9 from that range over three games. Knox was Kentucky's best player for most of the year, but that role was taken in the tournament by his teammate that follows on this list. Knox couldn’t take over the game against Kansas State offensively and is still raw in a lot of areas. His measurables and potential are still there, but the development he needs will knock him out of my top 10. I also believed he is destined to play power forward, not small forward.

Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: After two very strong games to start the tournament, Gilgeous-Alexander struggled against Kansas State, shooting just 2-of-10 from the field. He did score 15 points thanks to getting to the line 12 times and making 11. Gilgeous-Alexander's combination of length, defensive potential and deceptive quickness makes him an intriguing point guard prospect. He lacks explosiveness, and his jump shot needs a better release. He’s in the tier right below where the Knicks pick.

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Villanova junior small forward Mikal Bridges: After going just 7-of-18 from the field in the two games over the weekend, Bridges' stock has probably remained pretty steady. Bridges' game comes with few question marks. He is an excellent shooter and good defender with length that struggles a bit to create his own shot. His floor as a 3-and-D small forward is extremely high. His name should have a huge red circle around it when the Knicks are on the board at nine. He fits a need and is the type of player winning teams have in their starting lineup.

Duke freshman power forward Marvin Bagley III: Bagley continues to be a numbers machine for Duke. He put up 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting against Syracuse on Friday. In the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas on Sunday, Bagley was less efficient, shooting just 5-of-9 and scoring 16 points. He grabbed 17 rebounds over the two games. Bagley could be a top-three pick, and definitely won’t drop out of the top five. He should be an excellent offensive player in the pros, even if he struggles at times defensively.

Duke freshman center Wendell Carter Jr.: Carter has sold me on his game over the course of the NCAA tournament, although his numbers over the weekend were fairly modest. He scored 24 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked two shots in two games, but it was the way he played that was impressive. Often hung out to dry as the big in Duke’s odd 1-4 zone defense, he still protected the rim fairly well. Some evaluators have used Al Horford as a comparison, and I see it. Carter is a good defensive player, rebounder and passer. He has range that can extend out to the 3-point line as well. His skills should fit well next to Kristaps Porzingis.  

MORE: Schmeelk: Why Tim Hardaway Jr. Contract Is As Bad As We Thought It Was

While fans are understandably dismayed that the Knicks will likely be selecting ninth in the draft -- with a small chance of moving into the top three or moving back lower than ninth -- the good news is this is a fairly deep class at the top and New York should be able to get a good player to help build with at No. 9.

The players I think will eventually make up the top 10 are Slovene swingman Luka Doncic, Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, Bagley, Michigan State center Jaren Jackson Jr., Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, Texas center Mohamed Bamba, Bridges, Carter and Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. What order will those players go in? There’s a lot of time between now and the draft to figure that out.

For everything Knicks, Giants, and the world of sports, follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk