The Knicks have the 8th and 27th pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Here are a few more prospects the Knicks could look at in the first round.

Tyrese Maxey // PG, Kentucky

Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images
  • Age: 20 years old
  • Measurements: 6’3”, 198 lbs, 6’6” wingspan
  • Stats last season: 14.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 42.7 FG%, 29.2 3FG%

Maxey is a projected lottery pick that has great footwork and balance when he shoots. He has high confidence in his shot and range to one day become an effective shooter in the NBA. He plants hard off both feet and elevates quickly when taking a jumper. Truthfully, Maxey is a better shooter than his percentage says and his spot-up shooting will probably become the most pivotal variable in his game. Clyde Frazier will have a field day mentioning his ambidextrous ability as he can get a shot off the dribble in any direction. He is more effective in scoring off the bounce and excels off the jab and a few quick or change of pace dribbles. One of his favorite shots is the floater, shooting a high percentage off one or two feet. He can also finish at the rim and welcomes contact. His focus and touch with either hand is impressive. 

On the flip side of that, Maxey needs to make better decisions when it comes to shot selection. He has a tendency to settle for floaters and force tough shots. He doesn’t quite have the ball-handling skills like some top point guards in today’s game and doesn’t create as much space as you’d hope. Sometimes, he drives to the rim too hard and loses control, his floaters are predictable and it can lead to offensive fouls. Sometimes, he gets tunnel vision and misses the open teammate. Some say the fault lies in the hands of Coach John Calipari’s system and the role he had at Kentucky. He needs to read the defense better because he attracts a lot of attention. He’s also a bit streaky. Some nights, he can have a career game against a Top 25 team but drop a dud the next time against a small mid-major school. 

Maxey is a great and tenacious player on defense. His ability to mirror his opposition and to react quickly is dazzling. However, he won’t get you too many steals.

He’ll make a play when he’s confident, but he’s a better on-ball defender than a pickpocket. His balance is also present on defense.

His ability to stay balanced plus his body control and ability to contest most shots should delight front offices. He’ll surely have a pick dodger badge on Next-Gen stations because he has great technique when it comes to defending a pick-and-roll and hustles back to get into position without committing a foul. He can also impress on off-ball defense. He can frustrate his defender, communicate on switches, and help very well.

Given his current shape, Maxey needs to add weight and strength to guard bigger wings and hold his own on switches.

Devin Vassell // SF, Florida State

Photo: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
  • Age: 20 years old
  • Measurements: 6’7”, 194 lbs, 6’10” wingspan
  • Stats last season: 12.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 49% FG, 41.5% 3FG

Another player the Knicks could be looking for early on draft night is Devin Vassell. He is a lethal marksman from behind the arc. His high release point and good footwork. There is no doubt that most of his offensive production early in his career will be from spot up and corner threes. Just picture RJ driving, kicking out after seeing the help defense come to a wide-open Vassell for three. He improved mightily on his off the dribble scoring from his freshman to sophomore year. If he continues that trend into the league, he could certainly become a pump-fake, side-step, knock-down-three type of player. The potential is there for Vassell to develop a more complete scoring toolbox.

He is a good and smooth athlete in transition but isn’t exactly explosive as a two-foot jumper. He has a high motor, is competitive, and isn’t scared of getting in the trenches. 

But, Vassell needs to improve his ball-handling ability. He’ll get uncomfortable if he takes about four or more dribbles in the halfcourt. He isn’t exactly quick and strong to get by defenders. He will usually try a quick dribble combination and pull-up. He will sometimes take off-balanced floaters and runners when he gets cut off. If he is having trouble adjusting on floaters and runners at the amateur level, he’ll definitely struggle at it at the next level. 

First off, Vassell has a high IQ on defense. He picks up on tendencies and is always thinking of how to create turnovers. He also knows when to fully rotate or stunt and recover. He will come over and help when needed. He is great at moving laterally. He can turn his hips and use the cross-step to recover and get back into position. He is also long, so he uses that to his advantage when it comes to blocking. His 6’10” wingspan makes him a shot-blocking threat at all times. He plays the passing lanes so well and uses quick hands and reflexes to disrupt the follow of an offense. 

He’ll need to gain weight and get in the weight room to be able to guard bigger wings and switch onto some forwards. He’ll sometimes overcommit to a steal, too.

However, that fault is more of an overconfidence deal than a fundamental deal. 

Desmond Bane // SG, TCU

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • Age: 22 years old
  • Measurements: 6’6”, 215 lbs, 6’4” wingspan
  • Stats last season: 16.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45% FG, 44% 3FG

Now we look towards the players who could be available for the Knicks late in the first round.

Defenses will need to have a man glued to Bane out on the perimeter. Bane is an elite shooter from behind the arc. Although he has a “what is that?” type of form, he is lethal from three. His great footwork coupled with his ability to read defenses and get open using an off-ball screen leads to wide-open shots for Bane. Incredibly, Bane was one of 20 NCAA Division I players with at least 90 possessions off screens, shooting 41% from the field. The only other high-major player was Kansas State’s, Xavier Sneed. Bane shot 44% in his last three years at TCU. He can shoot off the dribble comfortably, doesn’t have a great handle but has enough tools to get to a spot and use that good range. He has good balance and is capable of shooting off any side. He is a solid finisher at the rim and has a great touch for his size. He loves to use the hang dribble move and uses the push crossover to change pace and get to the rack. Although he doesn’t use it much, he shot over 50% while shooting floaters. He should work on that when he gets to the next level and shoot it more than the 22 times like in his final year at TCU. He is also a good passer. He reads the defense well and is a great ball-handler on pick-and-rolls. He could be a secondary playmaker for an NBA team one day. He may actually be a better passer than a handful of top guards in this draft. 

He can struggle with finishing in traffic. He does possess a negative wingspan, a rarity. He doesn’t have great ball-handling.. It’s a decent handle, but he has to work on it so he can create space. 

His defense is respectable. He is a good defender with high, good positioning, and a great motor. He does lack foot speed, but he plays hard on defense. He is a great off-ball defender, can jump passing lanes, makes great decisions when on help defense and when rotating. He can most likely guard the two through four and be able to hold his own when switching onto a one. 

There are red flags on defense. His footwork speed against faster players is concerning. Some blame comes on his footwork and some on his athleticism. His small arms and lack of explosiveness may hurt him at the next level, but his college numbers simply cannot be glanced over. 

At 22 years old, you have to wonder how much room there is for development. At his maximum potential, he can probably be a number two or three option for a team.

If he doesn’t quite pan out, I could see him thriving off the bench locking down the sixth man, and leading the second team offensively. 

Aleksej Pokusevski  // PF, Olympiacos (Greece)

Photo: Panagiotis Moschandreou/EuroLeague Basketball/Getty Images
  • Age: 18 years old
  • Measurements: 7’0”, 205 lbs, 7’3” wingspan
  • 10.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.8 BPG, 40.4% FG, 32.1% 3FG

Now Pokusevski is interesting, but let me start off with the factors that scare me. 

For a lack of better words, the dude is skinny. His number one goal should be to gain a couple of dozen pounds. He won’t be able to do it in this league at 205 lbs. If he were placed in an NBA game today, he would be targeted by offenses every time down the floor because he isn’t strong enough to bang with bigs down low and isn’t quick enough laterally to hang with guys on the perimeter. 

He is a project. 

It’ll be difficult for him to be a contributor if his shots aren’t falling at a high level. He needs to continue to develop his rhythm, patience, and footwork. Closeouts and defensive footwork in general need work. He also often gambles and puts himself out of position while trying to force a turnover, record a block, or grab a board. Improved discipline should come with time. He hasn’t shown any ability to guard in space, and that is the biggest mystery about him as a player. 

Now, what makes Pokusevski an attractive prospect?

If he is able to hash the issues above, he’ll become the next Nikola Jokic with a Bol Bol shooting ability. 

Finding the next Nikola Jokic could be a huge diamond in the rough for the Knicks at 28

Pokusevski can handle the ball very well and is agile for a man of his size and position. His good vision, flare, feel and high playmaking potential will entice front offices late in the first round. He can adapt and is creative. He has the most unique potential skill set in the 2020 NBA Draft. He impresses with live dribble and cross-court passes as well as some pick-and-roll. Although he isn’t fast, quick or explosive, Pokusevski is a smooth and fluid athlete who runs the floor well. He can thrive in the open court in the NBA. Although his percentage from behind the arc isn’t very attractive, he has great footwork coupled with good form. He shot 78% from the free-throw line. He shows high potential as a shooter. He can eventually become more of a spot-up shooter if he adds to his movement and off the dribble shots. He is the definition of a stretch four. It would be almost like guarding a small forward as to power forward. 

He can however push his shots and kick his legs out when shooting or short arm shots when he is feeling himself. This may improve with added strength. He has trouble getting around defenders and finishing in traffic, again because of his lack of size. He’ll also sometimes force a pass and be too flashy. His decision making still needs improvement. 

Pokusevski is a great shot blocker. He has great timing and awareness when it comes to blocking, but he’ll absolutely have to bulk up from his current weight to guard fours and fives. He doesn’t have a great positional matchup defensively with his decent footwork. A lot of that is due to his physical profile. 

He is a promising prospect but will need tougher reps than the ones he was getting in Greece. 

Cassius Winston // PG, Michigan State

Photo: Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports
  • Age: 22 years old
  • Measurements: 6’1”, 185 lbs, 6’5” wingspan
  • Stats last season: 18.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 45% FG, 43% 3FG

The Knicks could look towards East Lansing with their late first-round pick

Winston is a great playmaker. Over his final three years at Michigan State, a consistent 30-win team, he averaged 6.8 APG. He is great out of the pick-and-roll with great vision and wits to know where his teammates are. He can make some impressive reads when he has the ball in his hands. He keeps his eyes when pushing in transition and makes the correct outlets and can add plenty of flair to them. He seems to always be a play ahead of the defense. He is also a great shooter. He can stroke it from three and off the dribble. He shot 42% off the dribble and his compact dribble lets him get to his spots. He has good footwork, balance, and alignment on dribble threes. He has several moves he can bust out at any time and uses all footwork variations consistently. He also shot 58% off screens and 47% on spot-up shots. He also possesses the ability to play off-ball and can be effective in several different roles. Get ready for Swiss Army Knife references from Clyde Frazier during MSG broadcasts if the Knicks draft Winston. Given his athletic size, he can finish at the rim. He finished with either hand with great touch. One of his most used tools while driving is using the runner and floater. In 45+ attempts, his 45% on runners and floaters ranks 20th in NCAA Division I. For reference, Markus Howard finished at 39% and Nico Mannion at 37.5%. He is crafty and will sometimes use the wrong foot to get his layups up and in and avoid shot blockers. He shot 52% at the basket overall. Front offices will also see intangibles and will most likely be impressed during interviews before the draft. Winston is a leader, a hard worker, and a team-first player. 

The one negative offensively is his lack of burst and explosiveness to get to the rim with regularity, especially in the NBA

However, this may be a one-way street. 

On defense, his footwork is slow and limits his potential. Some of his struggles were effort based while others were athletic-based and his lack of size may hurt him at the next level. Teams will certainly expose him by creating mismatches and attack him. He’ll need good defenders around him on the floor. Given his age, his defensive ceiling is near and he is not a good defender at all.

Once in a while, he’ll have good defensive possession, but don’t expect it every time down the floor. If he wants to see consistent minutes, he’ll have to work on his athleticism and effort. This isn’t football, he simply cannot play on offense.

Winston is simply going to have to work on his defense. If he doesn’t, he’ll quickly find himself in the G-League or playing overseas. 

The 2020 NBA Draft is on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

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