The New York Knicks never expected to be here.
After acquiring Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier last summer, the team was finally meant to have an offense capable of inspiring confidence in New York bettors and leading them toward a deep playoff run.
However, things don’t always go as planned, which is why the Knicks missed out on the playoffs and find themselves with a late lottery pick in Thursday’s upcoming NBA Draft (ABC, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.).
Caesars Sportsbook New York came out with its odds to win the 2023 NBA title Friday morning and the Knicks were at +15000. The Warriors are a favorite to defend at +500 and the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets are next at +600.
With the future of Mitchell Robinson still unresolved, the team’s desperate need for a point guard to pair with RJ Barrett, and the never-ending need for a legitimate two-way wing, the Knicks have multiple holes to fill on their roster. As such, we can expect the front office to explore every avenue possible heading into draft night – which is why reports have begun to surface about the Knicks doing their due diligence on teams interested in trading for Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, who is certain to be off the board by the time the fourth pick is made.
Here is a look at odds for the first player to come off the board, as determined by BetMGM Sportsbook New York:
There still should be some talented individuals who project in NBA betting to be available by the time the Knicks are on the clock with the 11th overall pick, so let’s take a look at three of the more likely candidates.
NewYorkBets.com is always there as a handy reference for NBA odds updates and the best New York sports betting promo codes.
AJ Griffin: Duke, Small Forward
Griffin is far from a sure-fire prospect at the NBA level, but how many draftees are?
Still, Griffin comes from NBA lineage and has flashed a high-level basketball IQ at Duke. Griffin is 6-6 and boasts a 7-foot wingspan along with the physique to rival a linebacker. That type of body composition, when coupled with his basketball IQ, would make him a dream acquisition for Tom Thibodeau, who will expect any new recruit to be a reliable defender.
Offensively, Griffin is a capable 3-point shooter who averaged an impressive 44.7% from deep on 4.1 attempts per game at Duke. Beyond his floor-spacing capabilities, he also is exceptional at fighting through contact in the lane.
Still, there are some concerns about Griffin’s explosiveness as the next level and his injury history in high school.
Overall, Griffin is a prospect with good two-way potential, but his game will take some time to adjust to the NBA level – especially if he can’t sustain his perimeter success against NBA-level defenses. If the Knicks are looking for upside, and are willing to develop talent on the fly, Griffin could find himself in New York next season.
Jalen Duren: Memphis, Center
If Mitchell Robinson isn’t planning on staying around, the Knicks will need a replacement big man, and Jalen Duren could fit the bill. Standing at 6-10, the Memphis big man could be the ideal replacement. He would instantly inject some athleticism and pace into New York’s rotation.
In his recent mock draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer likened Duren to the Boston Celtics’ Robert Williams, minus the injury concerns. Given Williams’ impact throughout the playoffs, that’s some high praise.
As with most modern-day rim-runners, Duren enters the league with a limited post game, and while his athleticism will offset that weakness, it does mean that his impact in the halfcourt will be limited outside of operating as a lob threat off pick-and-rolls. The same can be said for his defensive IQ; when tasked with guarding somebody straight up, he can be foul prone.
However, as one of the youngest players in the draft, there is plenty of time for the Knicks to hone Duren’s skillset and develop him into a fearsome defensive presence while building out his offensive game. In the short term, Duren will inject pace and energy into the Knicks, helping them to run the floor and lean into their youthfulness.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you have Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett sharing the court with you.
TyTy Washington: Kentucky, Point Guard
For all the talk of trading up for Jaden Ivey, the Knicks could well find their point guard of the future with the 11th pick in the draft. TyTy Washington has been linked with the Knicks since the draft lottery, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Kentucky guard is shifty, intelligent and is exceptional as an off-ball threat. Washington is 6-2 with a 6-8 wingspan. Given his ability to change directions at high speed, he has the tools needed to develop into a respectable perimeter defender, a prerequisite for Thibodeau.
During his final season with Kentucky, Washington embraced an off-ball role, which helped showcase his scoring potential. He ended the season with averages of 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists and he shot 45.1 percent from the floor and 35 percent from deep.
We also have seen flashes of a high-level playmaker when Washington has operated as a true point guard, illustrated by his 27% assist rate – and that was as a secondary ballhandler, so there’s definitely more playmaking below the surface.
Unfortunately, Washington does lack some explosiveness, which means he relies on hesitation moves, head feints, and the pick-and-roll to generate his offense. That will be a lot harder to come by against NBA-level defenses – especially around the rim.
Still, we’ve seen players in Washington’s mold succeed at this level before. Given enough playing time, he very well could develop into the ideal point guard for the Knicks moving forward.
With three clear-cut needs heading into the offseason, New York is certainly going to fill one of those voids in the draft. Sure, none of their projected prospects scream “can’t miss,” but they all bring a unique skillset to the table and should fit in well with the project the front office is building at Madison Square Garden.