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New York Knicks in advantageous position with 11th overall pick

New York Knicks in advantageous position with 11th overall pick

New York Knicks made the 2021 NBA Playoffs and seemed on the verge of finally moving on from decades of inconsistent play and disappointing results.

Then the 2021-22 season rolled around and fans were quickly reminded that, like most things related to the Knicks since 1999, their brief success was just a mirage in the dessert of despair.

Not just the Knicks not rehearsing to make the playoffstheir star player Julius Randle has decreased considerably in performance, and their young players have made only modest improvements.

They are now armed with 11th selection of the first round in this year’s NBA Draft, which for many may seem like an uninspiring position to choose from. However, it offers the Knicks a chance to choose their own future direction.

Chaos can cause players to slip

This year’s draft will be unpredictable. No one really has any idea which direction the Orlando Magic, owner of the first choice, will go. The Oklahoma City Thunder and general manager Sam Presti usually whistle at their own pace, which means the second overall selection would be a complete surprise, allowing talent to slip.

While the Knicks may not be able to get Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr, any unexpected picks will drop the entire remaining draft board, allowing the Knicks and teams before them to potentially have access to names. that they didn’t expect to have.

Such a name could be Benoit Mathurin. Arizona’s 6’6 guard/winger is a fluid offensive player who can create shots for himself on the perimeter and uses his 6’9 wingspan to finish the field on taller players. He was one of the brightest scorers in college basketball this season, averaging 17.7 points and high rates both from outside (6.1 attempts) and from the free throw line (4.8).

At 19, Mathurin already has a lot of experience to his credit, having participated in the Latin American division of the NBA Academy in Mexico before heading to Arizona. As such, he already knows the NBA ecosystem, which head coach Tom Thibodeau will surely appreciate.

Limited pressure

Selecting 11th, fans and pundits generally don’t expect slam dunk successes. There’s a lot less scrutiny for getting the pick wrong there than in the Top 3. That doesn’t mean the pick is less important, but it does mean the Knicks can make a pick without feeling the added burden of come away with something great. They will always try to do so, but they can afford to bet on a player who is a few years away from being able to contribute.

It could be Jalen Duren, the 6’11 big man from Memphis who, at 18, looks like one of the most physically ready center prospects in years. Duren tips the scales at 250 pounds, sports a 7’5 wingspan and has excellent defensive athletic timing, suggesting he will have a solid NBA baseline as a player when he makes the cut. transition.

Duren averaged 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in just 25.3 minutes per game this season, while hitting 59.7% from the field and 62.5% from the line, which is not a bad starting point for a center. Duren’s cap is substantial and the Knicks may decide to take a slow approach with him and play him primarily with RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickly to get him used to the team of the future.

While the Knicks may appear to be in winning mode now, they simply don’t have the necessary pieces to compete for a championship, and so should continue to spend time building a long-term core that has better chances of getting there. .

The 11th pick might not look like it, but it’s a crucial part of that core, whether it’s a long-term advantage or immediate help via a more polished recruit. . The flexibility of the selection in this area could be good news for the Knicks.

Unless otherwise stated, all statistics via NBA.com, PBPStats, Clean the glass or Basketball-Reference. All salary information via spotrac. All odds via FanDuel Sports Betting.

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