The entire Draft has been touted as a three-player Draft. Zion, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett are the top three picks, “and then the Draft starts.”
That’s why the Lakers trading the 4th pick to New Orleans and David Griffin exploring further trades for that pick has been so interesting. Every analyst has a different opinion who should go there (and it depends on team needs and philosophy) as the consensus is players in the 4 – 15 range are on the same level.
So as you do, the Knicks decided they don’t agree with everyone else. The same way they were the only team that didn’t go scout Giannis in Europe. Recent reports have the Knicks working out Darius Garland a few days before the draft and considering taking him with the 3rd pick.
R.J. Barret has been the overall no.1 prospect when the college season started. Then Zion blew up and he became “the second guy.” Then Ja emerged and R.J. dropped to no.3. Will the Knicks make him no.4? Here’s Jay Williams on “Get Up”:
It’s been hard for the Knicks to lure a big-time free agent to come to New York City. Now you actually have a player that’s publicly stated he wants to be in New York, and that he’s built for New York. If the Knicks don’t take him for a guy that’s said that, I think that’s gonna be egg on the face of the Knicks.
The Draft is a fickle thing. R.J. didn’t have a bad season, but he didn’t improve as much as expected, especially his the 3pt shooting – and we know that skill comes at a premium in the NBA.
This is where narrative comes in. J.R. is often compared to James Harden. Lefty, ball dominant finisher with a score-first mentality. The way Harden burned out in the playoffs (again) and the chemistry issues his style created didn’t look good. Then you look at R.J. and see similar things at Duke. Suddenly his draft stock dropped.
If Harden led his team to victory, R.J. would be portrayed as a young Harden with time to develop his outside shot and “we know that can lead to championships.”
The truth is no one really knows. The Rockets didn+t know Harden would be a perirenal MVP candidate when they traded for him, and there was a lot more NBA tape on him then we have on R.J. now.
But why Garland? He was considered a top prospect and ranked no.1 amongst all guards before the college season started. He was sidelined in November after a meniscus injury so there is limited tape on him. Given his pedigree, it’s not absurd to be considering him, but this is where organizational stability comes in.
Jay Williams didn’t talk about fit or potential. He talked about the Knicks having a need to get a guy that “wants to be there.” When you have an extensive history of bad decisions, you can’t focus on basketball alone.
That’s the cost of banning fans for life for telling you to sell the team.