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The Knicks Need To Select At No. 3 In 2019 NBA Draft

The 2019 NBA Draft is just over a week away, taking place on June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While the event venue is the Nets’ home arena, much of the attention going in will be on the New York Knicks.

Despite finishing with the worst regular-season record in the league, New York wound up with the No. 3 overall pick. While that means missing out on the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, it does put the Knicks in position to select high in a draft that is loaded at the top. Sportsbook odds currently tell us it’s very likely Knicks select RJ Barrett at No. 3 overall, but that is only if they hold onto the pick.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, there has been discussion surrounding the Knicks potentially trading out of that spot in order to acquire multiple picks later in the first round. That, however, feels like a pivot away from the direction New York wants to head in as it looks to become a contender in the very near future. Below are a few of the reasons why (barring an offer they cannot refuse)  it would behoove New York to stand pat and select from the No. 3 spot in the 2019 NBA Draft, in no particular order:

The 2019 NBA Draft Is Top-Heavy

The consensus is that the upper echelon of this year’s NBA draft is three-players deep:

  • Zion Williamson (Duke)
  • Ja Morant (Murray State)
  • RJ Barrett (Duke)

There’s tons of other talent beginning with Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, but there’s a dropoff between tiers. The Knicks being No. 3 allows them to select the next available player from that top level after the Grizzlies at No. 2, since all indications are that Williamson, Morant and Barrett are being selected first.

A team like Atlanta, for example, has the No. 8, 10 and 17 overall picks in the first round and has had its name connected with the Knicks in reports about a potential trade. Because of the dropoff in draft talent, receiving two later picks in the first round (or even future draft picks) is the Knicks pulling a rebuild maneuver despite being a “win now” team with mountains of cash to offer in free agency. Staying at the top and selecting No. 3 gives New York a potential  star to build with along with an asset that can step in contribute to a winning team right away.

No. 3 Pick Could Serve As Trade Bait After The Selection

In a world where the Knicks are able to make a deal for Anthony Davis or another star player, it can probably be done once the selection is made.

If there’s anyone to truly trust on this matter, it’s Las Vegas’ oddsmakers. As we mentioned, Barrett is an enormous favorite to be selected No. 3 overall after Williamson and Morant. The team that selects third is most likely selecting Barrett, whether it’s New York or the organization they deal with. This means the Knicks don’t need to force themselves into a pre-draft trade–teams that want Barrett before the draft will want him after the draft as well, and New York will likely have many more options after the draft than before.

Besides, the Knicks selecting Barrett or Morant, then waiting out the trade process through free agency to see which big-name dominos fall feels like a no-brainer. If a player of Davis’ caliber is available, whichever player the Knicks select should absolutely be an attractive asset to another team (especially New Orleans, who could potentially pair Barrett and Williamson once again). Now, for a moment, let’s assume the selection isn’t up for grabs in a trade…

RJ Barrett Can Be A Building Block For The Knicks

Assuming oddsmakers are correct and Morant is selected after Williamson, RJ Barret has the potential to be a home-run pick for the Knicks. Draft scouting reports will tell you that at 6’ 7” and over 200 pounds, Barrett is a superior athlete and a physical specimen built like your prototypical NBA wing player. The versatile lefty not only handles the ball and like a guard, but creates his own offense with ease and can take on multiple roles as somewhat of a point-forward.

Heading into the 2018-19 college basketball season, Barrett was the top prospect in the country until that mantle was taken by Williamson, his Duke teammate. Although he was overshadowed by the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year, Barrett made some NCAA history of his own. He became the first freshman to post at least 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game and went on to average 20.3 points, eight boards and six assists over four games in the NCAA Tournament.

Barrett is a natural playmaker and scorer who needs to be more efficient as he takes the leap to the NBA, but there’s little reason to think he won’t be able to handle himself. The Knicks’ intent isn’t to force their No. 1 draft pick to save the franchise. The idea is to use up that salary cap space and surround the young talent with All-Star caliber players, allowing the likes of Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr. and potentially Barrett to play roles.

Will The Tide Turn For New York?

Recent history tells us that New York is adept at finding ways to foster futility in the draft, especially when they have a top-10 pick. With the exception of selecting Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 in 2015, there aren’t many draft picks in the last 30 years that the blue and orange faithful have been able to applaud. Historically poor drafting is part of how the Knicks continuously find new and interesting ways to remain in a seemingly perpetual rebuild.

Once again, the New York has a chance to re-establish a long-lost era of prosperity on Broadway. Between a top-three pick and the salary cap room to offer two max contracts, maybe 2019-20 will be the season the Knicks start turning The Garden back into Eden.

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