Another week gone by, with the Knicks now cementing themselves as the worst record in the NBA by two whole games. With the Suns now sitting at 15 wins, it has become very likely that the Knicks finish last heading into the draft lottery.
This isn’t an insignificant statistic, even if the bottom 3 teams all have the same percent chance to finish 1st in the lottery. By finishing with the worst record, the Knicks can only fall as far as 5th in the draft lottery. While drawing the 5th pick would be a disaster for a season full of this many losses, the Knicks minimizing how far they can fall in the draft is important. Most scouts have dubbed this draft top heavy, with Zion seen as the only truly elite prospect. Maybe sometimes RJ Barrett depending whom you ask.
With 17 games remaining, the Knicks should try to stay at the bottom spot and hope for the top pick, with a top 3 pick at worst. In a summer where Anthony Davis will be available to bid on, a high pick gives the Knicks an additional asset that can be used in any package for AD should they decide to get involved.
WHERE IS FRANK?
Frank Ntilikina has been out since before the All-Star break with a nagging groin injury. Initial assessments had him returning just before the All-Star break, with a return just after the break the worst case scenario. To this point, he still hasn’t gotten back on the floor, although he has increased his workouts. It’s crucial for Ntilikina to get back onto the floor with only 17 games remaining. As someone who has failed to impress in a Knicks uniform to this point, he doesn’t have many chances left to prove himself worthy of his high draft status. Injuries are unfortunately part of the game and Frank was playing well before he went down. However, with rumors swirling about the Knicks potentially shopping him on draft night, he needs all the minutes he can get to prove himself.
So what exactly are the Knicks looking for in terms of a return for Frank? According to some rumors, the Knicks are searching for a 1st round pick in return for Ntilikina. From afar, it sounds as if the Knicks won’t truly send him anywhere unless they are blown away by an offer for him. In that case, there are many players on the roster that you can justify trading. The Knicks do need to be careful shopping Frank, however. There is always tremendous value in having players like Frank on a squad. Someone who doesn’t need the ball to be effective and can impact the game defensively is always welcome on a basketball team. Additionally, with the types of free agents the Knicks are connected to, there is truly a need for players to be impactful without the ball. Hopefully in the end, it works out for Ntilikina in New York. Having said that, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see him traded if the front office gets an offer they like.
Kevin Knox Brutally Inefficient
It’s true what coach Fizdale said about Knox’s rookie season. Nobody is going to remember what percentage you shot during your rookie year when you’re in year 8. But oh boy, has Knox been awful from the field. Knox is shooting only 36% from the field and 33.1% from 3. For someone that moves so fluidly on the offensive end, Knox hasn’t shown the ability to find high percentage shots. Part of what makes his ghastly percentage from the floor worrisome, is his shot selection. Far too many times, you find yourself asking why Knox would shoot that shot during the course of a game. Knox has been so bad, he was cheered for finally shooting over 50% from the field in this last week’s game vs the Kings. He went 4/6 from the floor, giving him his first game above 50% from the floor in a month and a half. Yes, it’s been a brutal stretch for him.
Patience is key when it comes to Knox however. He’s still the second youngest player in the NBA (he’s only 19!!) with lots of room to grow. His size and length and fluidity on the offensive side point to someone who should have no problem becoming an efficient scorer down the line. Perhaps more importantly than cleaning up his shot selection and field goal percentage, is Knox’s ability to impact a game when his shot isn’t falling. Prior to this week’s 3 game road trip, Knox had grabbed 37 boards over the previous 5 games (basketball references.com). He started to show a better effort in his defensive rebounding.
However, over this recent road trip he has regressed with only 8 combined rebounds over the 3 games. It’s this type of inconsistency that Knox has to clean up. He certainly has the skill set to do so and these last 17 games will be important for him to continue working on all aspects of his game.
Good Guy Shoutout
In a really tough season, a guy like Lance Thomas deserves love from Knicks fans. Currently the longest tenured Knicks player, he’s now been a part of 5 years in a row with at least 50 losses. Yet, you could never tell from his body language. He’s been a true leader of this team, even organizing team dinners in the midst of a historic losing streak to make sure everyone stuck together and didn’t lose their spirit. He’s always the first one off the bench congratulating teammates and has taken his role of mentoring in stride.
With this likely being his last year in a Knicks uniform, Thomas deserves mention before he’s gone. He’s been a good soldier in a tough year and all Knicks fans should be appreciative of his time here in New York.