The NBA Draft is an event that leads to speculation and rumors galore, but no one could have predicted the talk of Phil Jackson considering trades for Kristaps Porzingis.
He's officially sent the basketball world into a frenzy. With that in mind, a plethora of potentially surprising outcomes are on the table for the Knicks leading into Thursday. After looking at four potential selections yesterday, here's a look at four more prospects New York could consider.
The Knicks have certainly done their research and continued to watch Smith Jr. closely, and rightfully so. At eighth overall, the top notch point guards in this draft could very well be off the board and this young gun is seemingly just a cut below the rest of the best.
Smith Jr. is quick, raw, and enjoys attacking the hoop to get easy scoring opportunities. That in and of itself is an impressive skill set, but it might not be one that fits New York's ideal style of play. They've already had experience with a score-first point guard in Derrick Rose and came out understanding that this group desperately needs a facilitator. Smith Jr. doesn't have the necessary instincts and relative know-how to pass the ball when his penetration draws defenders in and leaves teammates open. At 19 years old, however, there's time to develop that in his game. He could represent the worst of the best case scenarios for the Knicks.
If everything goes to plan, Smith Jr, should be a viable option for New York. The availability of Jackson, however, would ironically increase if the Knicks make an even bigger splash and move up, potentially to third overall, in the draft.
How could this happen, you ask? Should New York work out a deal that sends Porzingis to the Boston Celtics, the third overall pick would be a necessary asset they receive in return. Of course, no price seems quite right for Porzingis, who should be virtually untouchable. Nevertheless, Jackson would likely interest the Knicks if they move up. He's a lengthy defensive-minded forward who could be tasked with guarding the NBA's top scorers right off the bat. On the offensive end, he has decent slashing ability but would need to develop that killer instinct to put the ball in the hole.
In the bizarre alternative timeline in which the Knicks trade Porzingis, it wouldn't be surprising to see them subsequently draft Markkanen as part of the plan.
Markkanen is exactly the type of versatile forward the Knicks could very well fall in love with, arguably so much so because he draws similarities to Porzingis himself. He's an international product, who, at 7'0", can shoot the lights out from around the perimeter. Unfortunately, Markkanen is somewhat of a one-trick pony. The rest of his game (physicality, defense, NBA understanding, etc.) isn't as polished. As the Knicks have learned with Porzingis, putting in the time to help such a player grow can turn out to be a big commitment, regardless of how much potential a prospect may have. It's better to see it through with their in-house talent than give up on Porzingis and start fresh with Markkanen.
This kid is explosive and can flat out score the basketball. As the Knicks explore potential trades for Carmelo Anthony, drafting Jackson could help them begin to fill that big offensive void immediately.
Fresh off winning a national title at the collegiate level, Jackson knows what it takes to win and has already been a part of positive cultures. This should be a big plus during the Knicks' evaluation process.
Jackson's explosiveness absolutely makes him an intriguing prospect to explore, but frankly, there seems to be more talented and versatile prospects available at the eighth spot. If he happens to intrigue New York that much, Jackson could probably be had lower in the draft. This would allow the Knicks to explore a larger trade to continue improving other areas of the team.