The 2020 NBA Draft took place on Wednesday from the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn.
Knicks president Leon Rose got his first opportunity to start putting together a team that fans hope can compete for a playoff spot in the near future.

Rose started early in the day when the Knicks traded the 27th and 38th pick to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the 23rd pick and the draft rights to Ante Tomic. Tomic is a 33-year-old second-round pick from the 2008 NBA Draft.

The Croatian is expected to stay in Europe and may never cross the Atlantic to join the NBA.

With the 8th pick of the 2020 Draft, the Knicks selected Obi Toppin from Dayton.

A power forward, Toppin averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.0 APG in his two years as a Dayton Flyer.

He is a local product, born in Brooklyn, he graduated high school at Ossining High School in Ossining, N.Y. in neighboring Westchester County. He was a major part of the Pride’s run to a Section 1 Finals appearance.

Photo: David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports

There are some questions at this pick due to the number of big men on the team already. The Knicks are surely going to have a battle between Julius Randle and Toppin if Randle isn’t moved. Some also may question the defensive ability of Toppin combined with his age, 22. Toppin is an offensive player right now, but it seems as though the Knicks are confident that head coach Tom Thibodeau can develop a defensive game.

Toppin a breathtaking athlete. His ridiculous explosive leaping ability is the focal part of his game. He is a very creative dunker. We all know how Madison Square Garden gets after a thunderous dunk (once fans are allowed back in).

  • He has great speed, runs the floor well in transition, and can outrace anyone down the court.
  • He also has a great second bounce, which could make an impact on the offensive glass.
  • He is always a lob-threat.
  • He also has the potential to be an efficient shooter and has good form. If he can develop a three-point game, his ceiling gets much higher.
  • He’s a solid inside scorer. He uses his body well and has a soft touch around the rim. He shot almost 70% from inside the arc this past season.
  • He’s effective during pick-and-rolls. He possesses good balance and footwork in these situations. He can read doubles makes good passes, illustrating a good feel for the game.

However, Toppin is heavy-footed. He has poor footwork when guarding on the perimeter. He must improve on his ability to guard in space to see important minutes in the NBA. He is often caught out of position on the inside and not just when guarding bigger players. He needs to work on his discipline and work on his defensive footwork. He also has mental lapses on defense and lacks defensive awareness.

Some may be upset considering Tyrese Haliburton was still available and the Knicks’ dire need for a starting point guard. However, this team needs more offense and Toppin oozes talent on that end of the floor.

In the midst of the draft, just as the Knicks selected forward Leandro Bolmaro from Argentina via FC Barcelona Basquet with the 23rd pick, the Knicks traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Knicks picked up the 25th pick and the 33rd pick in the transaction.

With the 25th pick, the Knicks selected Immanuel Quickley from Kentucky.

A point guard, Quickley averaged 10.1 PPG, 1.5 APG, 2.9 APG in his two years as a Kentucky Wildcat.

Photo: Mark Zerof/USA TODAY Sports

Quickley played under new Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne at Kentucky. The Wildcat connection continues to grow with a roster that already has former ‘Cats Kevin Knox and Julius Randle. Many experts saw Quickley as a potential second-round pick, but New York picked him late in the first. 

Standing at 6’3”, 190lbs with a 6’8” wingspan, Quickley is an elite three-point shooter. On 4.8 attempts a game from behind the arc, he shot 43%, including an eye-opening 48% in just a month of January.

  • He has a nice-looking form, a quick release, and great footwork. He’ll mostly be a left-right or 1-2 shooter off the catch.
  • He also shot a very impressive 92% from the free-throw line on 5.2 attempts per game.
  • He’s really good at running lanes and spotting up in transition. These open looks helped him find a rhythm and once he does, he’s pretty much unstoppable.
  • He also has good awareness of contesting defenders. He’ll use escape dribbles and fakes into pull-ups, side-steps, and stepbacks. He is also skilled at getting open.
  • He moves almost in silence to get open. Many times, he would get away from his defender without realizing it and will find the open space.

Credit Coach Calipari and his system for the development of this aspect of his game. If this translates into the NBA, he’ll be a sharpshooter for the Knicks. He can also get the job done off the dribble. Quickley has one of the best floaters in college basketball. His 45% ranked first in high major schools with more than 65 attempts. Most of his floaters are off two feet but has the ability to get it done off one foot and with the off foot. He’s a pretty good defender, too. He became the go-to defender down the stretch at Kentucky. Although he doesn’t have the quickest feet, his length and ability to close gaps makes up for it. He’ll be able to guard ones and most twos. He showed improvement on defense from his freshman year, showing he can continue to develop this aspect at the next level. He is also great at navigating around screens and getting skinny. 

On the other side of that bill, he needs to improve as a passer and a playmaker. He doesn’t have the handle or vision to consistently run offenses. Right now, he’ll fit best as the tertiary ball handler but can develop to become the secondary ball handler. He’s a poor finisher at the rim. He shot just 42.4% FG at the rim and isn’t very explosive. He tends to rely on his floater when he inches towards the paint. He often had mental lapses on off-ball defense. He needs to learn to be locked in at all times at the next level. He may also need to bulk up a bit. If he wants to be durable and be able to guard bigger ones and most twos, he’ll need to add somewhere between 10-15 lbs.

With the 33rd pick of the draft, the Timberwolves selected center Daniel Oturu from Minnesota, who was traded to the Knicks.

Then he was quickly traded again to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the Pistons’ 2023 second-round pick.

The Knicks ignoring the point guard position early again was certainly frustrating. I don’t love the Toppin pick, but I don’t hate it either. It seems as though they may have reached for Quickley.

I would be remiss if I said I was thrilled.
Grade: B-

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