Schmeelk: Where Will The Knicks Draft If The NBA Season Is Truly Over?

League May Go Right Into Playoffs After Coronavirus Stoppage

John Schmeelk
March 20, 2020 - 8:51 am
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Is the NBA season over? Maybe. Probably? There’s a chance the type of severe social distancing that the United States is practicing goes into the summer months. Would it be possible for the NBA to complete the season in some way shape or form in August? Yes, but there’s a long time to go before we have a chance to figure out if that’s even a possibility given the potential impact on next season.

So, what if the season is actually over? It means that we know exactly where the Knicks are in the draft lottery order, and the range that they can pick in whenever the NBA Draft takes place. With the new less top-heavy lottery odds, where you place in the lottery is more about how far you can drop in the draft as it is about how high a team can pick.

The Knicks winning two of their final three games, including their final overtime game against the Hawks, proved very costly to their potential draft position. If the current standings are used to determine NBA lottery positioning, the Knicks have the sixth worst record in the league.

If not for the last two wins of the season against the Pistons and Hawks they would have the second worst record in the league. If they had only beaten the Pistons, but not Atlanta, they would be tied with the Pistons for the fourth worst record.

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There is some level of consolation that the final win against Atlanta was led by RJ Barrett (26 points, 9-14 FG, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) and Mitchell Robinson (16 points, 7-7 FG, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal), rather than some of the veterans unlikely to be with the team long term. If Wayne Ellington hit a bunch of threes and ruined the Knicks draft slot by two or more spots, Knicks fans should be rightfully annoyed.

Here’s what the odds for the Knicks look like in the draft lottery, whenever that might happen, and assuming the rules remain the same. (percentages from tankathon.com)

Team                  1st          2nd         3rd       4th      5th       6th        7th      8th       9th       10th      11th 

Warriors             14%      13.4%   12.7%   12%               47.9%

Cavaliers            14%      13.4%   12.7%   12%               27.8%     20%

Timberwolves    14%      13.4%   12.7%   12%               14.8%     26%      7%

Hawks                12.5%   12.2%   11.9%   11.5%   7.2%               25.7%   16.8%   2.2%

Pistons               10.5%   10.5%   10.6%   10.5%   2.2%               19.6%    26.7%   8.7%     .6%

Knicks                9.0%     9.2%     9.4%     9.6%                 8.6%     29.8%     20.6%   3.7%     .1%

Bulls                   7.5%     7.8%     8.1%     8.5%                             19.7%   34.1%   12.9%   1.3%     <.1%

 

In all, the Knicks have a 37.2% chance of finishing with a top four pick, and a 62.8% chance of selecting 6th-10th. The most likely landing spots for the Knicks when the lottery is completed is 7th or 8th. There’s a 50.4% chance they finish with one of those two selections, with 7th being the most likely at 29.8%.

What softens the blow for Knicks fans is that this is not a draft where having the top overall pick, or even a top three pick, gives them a chance at someone most think will become a generational player. It doesn’t mean that picking higher isn’t better, but this is a flatter draft where the Knicks could possibly get the best player in the draft picking 7th or 8th. There is very little consensus on how to rank the players in the top ten, and there is no longer any March Madness to separate players before the draft comes.

Here are the guards and wings the Knicks could be considering based on where they select (I have removed big men from consideration here): wing Anthony Edwards, wing Isaac Okoro, point guard LaMelo Ball, wing Deni Avdija, guard Tyrese Maxey, guard Tyrese Haliburton and point guard Killian Hayes.

Assuming that James Wiseman goes in the top seven, the Knicks will have the opportunity to draft one of those players. Onyeka Okongwu and Obi Toppin could push more of that group depending on where the Knicks pick. Other players like guard Cole Anthony, point guard Nico Mannion and guard RJ Hampton could be potential targets as well.

The Knicks would also own the 27th selection in the draft (from the Clippers in the Marcus Morris trade) and the 38th pick (from the Hornets in the Willy Hernangomez trade). There are always useful players available at every stage of the draft, if the team making the pick selects the right player.

Next week I will look in more detail at some of the players the Knicks could select, and break down the progress of the Knicks youngsters this season and what it means for the future.

You can follow John on Twitter (@Schmeelk) for everything about the Knicks, Giants and the world of sports.You can find the most recent episode of The Bank Shot, his Knicks podcast, featuring Sports Illustrated NBA Draft analyst Jeremy Woo here. You can subscribe to The Bank Shot here.

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