The NBA had their annual draft lottery on Thursday and the Knicks were once again vying for the number one pick.
The team had Leon Rose as its representative this year, sporting a replica of a lucky wristband a fan gave to RJ Barrett before a March game.

Unfortunately, it was the same story for the Knicks, who were the sixth-worst team in the league this year, as public enemy Mark Tatum announced the team dropped two spots, drawing the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Twitter erupted once again because it’s evident people care what happens with the Knicks, or else why would anyone talk about them? Let’s not forget teams like Sacramento and Charlotte keep missing on draft picks, but no one talks about their struggles in the draft.

Even De’Aaron Fox, whose Kings went 2-6 in the bubble and were basically just getting conditioning done in Orlando, felt the need to take a swing at the Knicks on Twitter, probably due to the fact he’s forced to live in Sacramento and not New York.

The Knicks pick at eight. They will also have the 27th pick (via LA Clippers, Marcus Morris trade in 2020) and the 38th pick (via Charlotte, Willy Hernangomez trade in 2018).

Here are a few prospects that the Knicks could take with the eighth pick.

PF Obi Toppin // University of Dayton

Photo: David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports

In my opinion, Toppin is probably the best player that could be available to the Knicks at eight.

Toppin had a great career at Dayton. In his freshman year, he averaged 14.4 PPG on 67% shooting from the field in 31 games, 15 starts where he averaged 26.5 MPG. His sophomore year is when he really put himself on the radar. In 31.6 MPG, he averaged an even 20.0 PPG on 63% shooting from the field to go along with 7.6 rebounds a game. He would average just about 8-for-12 per game as he uses his 6’9”, 220 lbs body to get into the paint, where he would shoot 73% from. 

It’ll be interesting to see how Toppin develops his shooting from behind the arc. Although his shot chart says he’s efficient from three, I don’t expect him to take too many threes early in his career as he averaged just 2.6 threes per game last season, shooting 39%. He took 82 three-pointers last season, which was a jump from his 21 three-pointers last season, illustrating an attempt at developing from there.

If you’re one of the advanced stats kind of fan, Toppin had a PER of 32.5 last season for the Flyers along with a .684 true shooting percentage and box plus/minus of 12.3. For reference, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the NBA in PER and box plus/minus at 31.9 and 11.5, respectively, while Rudy Gobert led the league in true shooting percentage at .699.

He ranked 7th in the NCAA in scoring efficiency among players using 10 possessions per game (1.20 ppp) and 2nd in the A-10 in cut scoring at 3.6 PPG.

If the Knicks were to draft Toppin, it would be a homecoming of sorts as Toppin was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent his senior year at Ossining High School in Westchester County located 36.5 miles north of Madison Square Garden.


PG Tyrese Haliburton // Iowa State University

Photo: David K Purdy/Getty Images

Well, let’s address the elephant in the room. The Knicks need a point guard. They haven’t found the point guard they’ve been looking for. It’ll be tough again to see if they can find the point guard they need after slipping all the way down to eighth as it seems they missed out on the Lamelo Ball Sweepstakes. 

It was a tough freshman season for Haliburton. He surprised many in becoming the starting point guard for the Cyclones as he was surrounded by veterans. The other four starters on that Cyclones team went pro. He averaged just 6.8 PPG on about 2-for-4 shooting, and 3.6 APG in 35 games, 34 starts as a freshman. But, Haliburton turned things around in his second year for the Cyclones as he stepped into a new role. He averaged 15.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 5.9 RPG, and 2.6 SPG. He would shoot about 6-for-11 per game, about 50% from the field and 42% from behind the arc.

However, on February 8, the 6’5”, 175 lbs Haliburton was injured in a game against Kansas State as the clock was getting closer to halftime. An MRI the next day revealed a fractured left wrist, ending his season. He played in 22 games, starting in each of them.

At the time, Haliburton had a 25.9 PER (Joel Embiid ranked 7th with a 25.8 PER), along with a true shooting percentage of .631, which would place him T-13 with Jonas Valanciunas and Daniel Theis and over Damian Lillard and James Harden whose true shooting percentage sat at .627 and .626, respectively. 

Last season, Haliburton led the Big XII in points created bypasses of pick and rolls at 7.8 PPG, which would lead to dreamy, highlight-reel plays with Mitchell Robinson. He also ranked 3rd in the Big XII in transition points with 3.7 PPG and spot-up scoring at 4.7 PPG, areas the Knicks haven’t had much success in. 

Experts are also intrigued by his defensive ability. Although Haliburton is rather skinny, he has started to fill out his frame a bit. With and without the ball, he allowed 0.50 points per isolation possession last season. That places him in the 84th percentile. Haliburton also does things outside his responsibilities that experts like to see including picking up his teammates after making mistakes, picking up full court, and timing with shot-blocking. He has the length and the lateral quickness to become a good defensive player. Combine that with his competitiveness and stat-stuffing, he could really be an impact player who could slide to New York after his stock slipped a bit after his season-ending injury.

PG Cole Anthony // University of North Carolina

Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Here is a player the Knicks scouted extensively.

The son of 11-year veteran Greg, Cole Anthony had what he might describe a bit of a disappointing year in his lone season at North Carolina.

After Coby White left the program to go into the NBA, the door opened up for Anthony to become the starting point guard. But, a partially torn meniscus in his right knee led to arthroscopic knee surgery after just nine games into his collegiate career hurt his draft stock. At the time of his injury, he was averaging 19.1 PPG (second in the nation to Anthony Edwards), 6.3 RPG, and 3.4 APG. The Tar Heels were 6-3 at the time, they proceeded to go 4-7 in the 11 games he missed and finished 14-19, the worst record for the Tar Heels in the Roy Williams era. 

He finished the season averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 4.0 APG in 22 games, 20 of them starts, shooting 38% from the field, 35% from behind the arc and 75% from the line. Anthony himself had said that he played about “five games at 100 percent.” 

A healthy Cole Anthony could be a lot for opponents. At 6’3”, 190 lbs, he is a very aggressive player who usually looks to take his opponents off the dribble. Although his form is a bit funky, he can set his feet well. He’s the type to take a shot off one or two dribbles if he finds the adequate space. Anthony scored 1.04 points per jump shot in the half-court, placing him in the 79th percentile. 

There are some nights where he is more prolific shooting from the perimeter and there are some nights where he is more prolific as a playmaker, however, his decision-making can be questionable at times. When coming off the pick and roll, he has shown the ability to make the smart, correct decision in passing the ball out to an open teammate. However, although he can make difficult acrobatic layups, he also has attempted ambitious floaters over taller defenders. 

His leaping ability also makes him an impressive rebounder for his size and position. On the defensive side, Anthony has shown he could become an above-average defender. He held his own while engaged in on-ball defense, allowing 0.67 points per isolation possession, placing him in the 63rd percentile. 

PG Killian Hayes // France

Photo: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The son of Penn State’s ninth all-time leading scorer, DeRon, Killian Hayes is an American-born European prospect. He turned pro at the age of 16, signing with Cholet Basket of the LNB Pro A league in France.

In nine games, which he averaged just nine MPG, he averaged just 2.2 PPG (20 points the whole season). His second season was the one where he proved he could handle the French league as he averaged 7.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG in about 20 MPG. At 17 years old, those numbers would equate to 13.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.8 SPG per 36 minutes. 

This past season, the 6’5”, 192 lbs left-handed guard spent time playing for Ratiopharm Ulm of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany. He played in 20 games for them averaging 11.6 PPG, 5.3 APG and 1.4 SPG, shooting about 50% from the field and 85% from the free-throw line.

Where Hayes struggles the most is shooting from behind the arc. Although his shot looks fluid, he shot 22% from behind the arc last season in league play. He shot 39% from three-point land in EuroCup games, but given the distance, the NBA arc is compared to those in Europe, Hayes may never become the sharpshooter player that thrives in the sport today. 

Experts say Hayes possesses a high basketball IQ. He makes solid decisions in pick-and-roll situations, which can lead to a lob to Mitchell Robinson or a stepback jumper, which is his bread-and-butter move, or go to the rim, where he has shown that he can finish.

Another area where Hayes excels is in the open floor. He can lead a fastbreak with pace and has improved his playmaking ability since turning pro. He can find the open man, he can take a smooth-looking jumper from 15 feet or he can challenge at the rim.

Hayes is good when it comes to one-on-one defending. When he gets beat off the dribble, he can recover quickly, using a good angle and uses that 6’8” wingspan to slow defenders down. He anticipates passes well and is always looking for a steal, but he will once in while get caught napping on the help-side or tends to over help and is late to close out. His defensive awareness is there, but it still needs development.

Reminds me of another French point guard on the roster.

The Knicks’ luck is horrendous. They haven’t moved up in a draft in years.
Hopefully, scouting can find that one player in the lottery that has slipped down past the eighth pick who becomes an All-Star, like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Devin Booker, Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo.

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