Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
If the NBA cancels the rest of the regular season and resumes with a 16-team playoff format, the Knicks will finish with the sixth-worst record in the NBA.
That would give New York a nine percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick and a 36 percent chance of getting a pick in the top four in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Obviously, the Knicks could also slide back in the lottery. If they finish with the sixth-worst record, New York could move all the way back to ninth depending on how the ping pong balls bounce. (Technically, there is a very small chance that they’d slide back to 10th).
We say all that to say that the Knicks probably are preparing for dozens of different scenarios for the draft.
They have two first-round picks (they received the No. 27 pick in the Marcus Morris trade with the Clippers). They also have the 38th pick in the second round.
Depending on where they land in the lottery, they could look to trade up, down or stand pat and make their pick.
We know that some people in the organization agree with ex-Knicks head coach David Fizdale‘s assessment that the club could use a lead guard who is a threat to shoot. That kind of player, in theory, would help open up the offense in several ways, including by putting more pressure on defenses in Mitchell Robinson pick-and-rolls. A strong shooting lead guard would also complement RJ Barrett well.
One lead guard the Knicks have scouted extensively, per an NCAA source, is North Carolina’s Cole Anthony.
“New York has done their homework on Cole,” the NCAA source said.
Anthony, the son of former Knick guard Greg Anthony, averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for North Carolina last season.
He suffered a partially torn meniscus in December and missed 11 games following surgery. Anthony returned in February. The Tar Heels struggled in his absence and after his return, finishing the season 14-19.
Based on his shooting last season at North Carolina, you wouldn’t think Anthony fit the definition of “strong-shooting lead guard” that we mentioned above. He hit 38 percent of his shots, 35 percent of his 3-point attempts and 75 percent of his free throws.
Were those numbers an aberration? Can Anthony improve as a shooter in the NBA? Those are questions that NBA teams will be asking themselves as they prepare for the draft.
If you assume that Anthony’s shooting doesn’t improve over time, you’d also assume that Barrett and Anthony in the same backcourt wouldn’t space the floor well.
But both players are young and have plenty of time to work on their shots. If the Knicks took Anthony, obviously they’d be betting on the idea that his shooting would improve.
A few caveats here: the Knicks doing extensive homework on a player isn’t necessarily a sign that they are going to pick that player. They are probably doing extensive scouting on several players to prepare for different draft scenarios in advance of the NBA Lottery. Also, the Knicks’ scouting this season was done by GM Scott Perry and his brain trust. New Knicks president Leon Rose will obviously rely on that scouting to evaluate the draft. Perry is Rose’s hand-picked general manager for the 2020-21 season.
But Rose and top advisor Brock Aller could also draw different conclusions on a player than the Knicks’ scouts/front office.
NBA holds conversations on COVID
The NBA has held “NBA Together Virtual Roundtable” discussions on how COVID-19 has impacted the African American community, the incarcerated community and on the rise in anti-Asian discrimination and violence during the pandemic. Former Knick Jeremy Lin, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and ex-player Caron Butler participated in the conversation about anti-Asian discrimination this week.
“It hits home seeing how many Asian Americans are affected by it right now. So I felt like I had to come out and say something. To not feel welcome or safe physically is just a different level so that’s something I wanted to make sure I took a stance on,” Lin said in the conversation.
According to the NBA, the league, teams, players and owners have provided more than $88 million toward support and relief amid the pandemic, and players and teams have donated meals to people in need and PPE to health-care workers.