The New York Knicks tried their hardest to get the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Which is to say, they had a dismal season, finished with the worst record in the league, and had the best odds to claim the No. 1 pick. They had a 14% chance to win the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, but they slid down to No. 3. It may not be the top choice, but the Knicks’ draft pick could help them rebound from their terrible season quickly.
Optimism is high in New York as the Knicks have enough money to create two max player slots and will include a top pick onto their roster next season. As we head towards the draft, let’s look at what the Knicks can do with the No. 3 pick and which player they should target at that slot.
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant
Zion Williamson didn’t enter the college basketball season as the prohibitive No. 1 pick, but his excellent play on the court quickly saw him skyrocket to the top of the draft boards. During his lone season at Duke, he averaged 22 points and almost nine rebounds per game while also shooting 68% from the field.
Williamson has the size and athleticism to be a force in the low block, and he could draw comparisons to basketball Hall of Fame or Charles Barkley.
If not for Williamson, Ja Morant would most likely be the top pick in the draft. He played like an All-American point guard for Murray State, and the sophomore put up 24 points and 10 assists per game this season. He led Murray State to a stunning upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by posting a triple-double. Morant’s style is similar to Damian Lillard, and many experts expect him to go to the Grizzlies at No. 2.
RJ Barrett will be the pick
The player that came into the college basketball season has the No. 1 prospect was actually Zion Williamson’s Duke teammate, RJ Barrett.
Barrett is a dynamic scorer who can fill up a scoreboard quickly. He averaged 22 points per game this season for the Blue Devils, and he has the potential to be a future All-Star.
A pairing of 2018-19 rookie Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett could help the Knicks build a young scoring duo that can help with a potential playoff push. Even though the Knicks’ draft pick isn’t No. 1, Barrett is a game-changing player who can help the team right away. His game compares favorably to James Harden, who was also the No. 3 pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
What James Harden has done since entering the league
Harden has quickly grown into one of the games all-time great players. His first few seasons in the league were as part of the trio in OKC with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, as the Thunder quickly became one of the best young teams in the Western Conference. The Thunder had to choose between him and Serge Ibaka regarding long-term contracts.
They chose Ibaka, and Harden went to Houston to wreak havoc on the rest of the West. Since joining the Rockets, Harden has averaged 28 points per game and won the 2017–18 MVP award. He was even better this season as he averaged over 36 points per game, the first player in the NBA to average over 35 points per game since Kobe Bryant did it in the 2005-06 season.
Harden could win his second MVP award this season, so Barrett having a similar comparison should put a smile on the faces of Knicks fans.
Who might want the Knicks’ draft pick?
Even if New York doesn’t use the No. 3 pick, it can still land an impact player. How? By trading for disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis.
It’s no secret Davis wants to join LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Knicks might be the sleeper team to acquire him. The Lakers offered pretty much everyone on their roster to the Pelicans in exchange for Davis at the 2019 trade deadline, and they were quickly turned down.
A few young players, the Knicks’ draft pick, and the prospect of not seeing him play in the Western Conference might be enough to entice New Orleans to trade Davis to New York instead of Los Angeles.
Do you think RJ Barrett can be the next James Harden?
Barrett almost certainly won’t be at Harden’s level as a rookie, but if he is the Knicks’ draft pick, fans should be pleased with the selection. If they can get Barrett, will they be able to use him the same way the Rockets use James Harden? Can he become an all-star in a few years? No matter who New York chooses, fans will be thrilled with the player at No. 3 in the upcoming draft.