Knicks Draft Preview
As the 2011 NBA Draft rapidly approaches (Thursday, June 23), I thought it was a good idea to take a look at some of the guys the Knicks are rumored to have some interest in with their 17th pick. Jimmer Fredette, Chris Singleton, Klay Thompson, Marshon Brooks, Josh Selby, and Nikola Vucevic have been the most talked about names in Knicks camp, so let’s highlight each prospect.
Jimmer Fredette 6-2.5/196 lbs./Guard/BYU
A pure scorer who can put the ball in the basket in every way possible. Fredette has good size as a point guard and is a better finisher around the rim than people give him credit for. Fredette has “in-the-gym” range to go along with a quick release and very good ball-handling skills. Jimmer has also shown the ability to make off-balance shots, especially in the lane and is very underrated as a passer. Fredette also has a high basketball IQ, something that coaches and general managers love. His biggest weakness is definitely his ineffective play on the defensive end. Fredette can also be a little careless with the ball as shown by his career assist to turnover ratio of 4:3.5. Jimmer also has below average athleticism for a point guard which could give him trouble at the next level on both ends of the court. Overall, I think Jimmer is a better prospect right now than J.J. Redick was when he came out of college. He reminds me a little bit of Gilbert Arenas, and I think he will be a solid scorer off the bench.
Chris Singleton 6-9/230 lbs./Forward/Florida State
Singleton is a prolific athlete and possesses great size and length at the small forward position. He’s deadly in the open court and can jump out of the building. He is also a very good spot-up shooter and has shown he can knock it down from behind the arc. Singleton’s greatest strength is his combination of size, strength, quickness, and length which makes him a lockdown defender. He’s capable of taking the opposition’s best player out of the game, a quality that every NBA team is looking for. Singleton is also great around the rim and on the glass. He can definitely fill up the stat sheet. On the other hand, Singleton does have some glaring weaknesses. He is not a very good ball-handler and looks awkward when trying to create his own shot off the dribble or in the post. All in all, I think Singleton is the perfect player for the Knicks. He brings a blue-collar attitude to the game, plays defense with great intensity, and prides himself on his work ethic and overall effort. If Singleton is still available at 17, the Knicks simply have to take him.
Klay Thompson 6-7/206 lbs./Guard/Washington State
Thompson is a sharp-shooter with a pure stroke and great size for a 2-guard. He knows how to play without the ball, constantly coming off screens and spotting up. Klay has also mastered the forgotten art of the mid-range jumper and doesn’t need a lot of space to get off his shot because of his quick release. Thompson has great range and shoots the 3 with ease. The knocks on Thompson are largely centered around his average athleticism for a 2-guard. He’s much better in the half court set than he is in the open court. Thompson also doesn’t have great lateral quickness which makes him a below average or average defender at best. All in all, I really like Klay Thompson and I think he can be an above average shooting guard in the NBA.
Marshon Brooks 6-5/195 lbs./Guard/Providence
Brooks’ great length and size coupled with his uncanny ability to create his own shot makes him a viable threat as a 2-guard on the next level. He has unlimited range that extends out beyond the 3-point line and knows how to finish in the lane as well. Brooks also has an explosive first step and great lateral quickness which will allow him to improve defensively. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to rebound the ball from the guard position. Brooks averaged 7 rebounds per game in college, largely due to his relentless effort on the glass and his long wing span. However, Brooks does have a tendency to hold onto the ball for a vast majority of possessions and lacks the necessary court vision needed on the next level. He also takes a large amount of shots per game (18) and has somewhat of a questionable shot selection. Brooks also needs the ball to be effective, so he has to improve and get more comfortable without the ball in the NBA. Overall, I’m just not sure about Brooks. He’s had some impressive scoring games in the Big East, but I’m just not sold on him just yet. He does, however, have great upside and the potential to be sort of a Josh Howard type player in the NBA.
Josh Selby 6-3/195 lbs./Guard/Kansas
Selby is probably the most raw prospect in this year’s draft. He had an extremely up-and-down freshman season at Kansas and is a definite work in progress with an extremely high upside. He is a very explosive athlete and can beat pretty much anyone in a one on one setting, but he struggles with his decision-making at times. Selby didn’t shoot a great percentage from the field at Kansas, 37%, and forced the issue way too many times. Selby also lacks the necessary court vision and passing skills needed at the point guard position and is a little undersized for a 2-guard. All in all, Selby is a project with a very high ceiling. He will definitely go through some growing pains in the NBA and make you scratch your head sometimes, but don’t be surprised at his flashes of brilliance as they could be more and more frequent as he matures.
Nikola Vucevic 7-0/260 lbs./Center/USC
The tallest player in this year’s draft, Vucevic definitely has an NBA ready body. He has good post moves and can step out to around 20-feet with his jumper. Vucevic has shown great versatility in college and seems to be by far the most physically ready big-man in the draft. He’s shown great improvement over his 3 years at USC and a great hunger to get better. However, Vucevic does not run the court well or possess anything more than average athleticism. You won’t find him above the rim very much, but he does have a nice touch in the paint. Overall, Vucevic is very fundamentally sound, a good defender, and above average shot blocker. I think the Knicks go with him if they choose the route of selecting a big man.
Other names being thrown around include undersized rebounding machine Kenneth Faried out of Morehead State and 6-8 combo-forward Tyler Honeycutt from UCLA. Personally, I like Faried’s tenacity on the boards but at only 6-8 he is vastly undersized and is absolutely putrid on the offensive end, not the type of guy the Knicks are looking for. Honeycutt is an intriguing prospect. He has great athleticism, lateral quickness, and good length which gives him great potential, especially on the defensive end of the court. However, Honeycutt struggles with turnovers and is a very inconsistent shooter. Both of these guys would be solid fall back picks if none of the above mentioned players are available, but don’t be surprised if the Knicks move up in the draft as rumors have swirled about a potential swap with the Pacers in order to ensure the Knicks get the player they covet most. Also, keep an eye on 6-6 Guard out of Georgia Tech Iman Shumpert and 6-9 PF/C from the Congo Bismack Biyombo.