Everything You Need to Know About the New York Knicks’ 2019 Draft Lottery Chances

The day is finally here. For me, I’ve had May 14 circled on my calendar since the start of 2019. Not because that’s when I moved to NYC, but because the 2019 Draft Lottery could be one of the most pivotal moments in this tormented franchise’s history. On one hand, the Knicks could revitalize the Big Apple by landing Zion Williamson at No. 1, but on the other, the cyclic dysfunction is more likely to continue at No. 4 or 5.

NYK missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, finishing the year with a franchise-low 17 wins. I don’t anticipate that streak going on for another season. If you’re like me, you already have Kevin Durant as a member of the Knicks roster come July 4th. With the lottery unfortunately changing its format for the first time, I just want to set the record straight on percentages of where New York could land Tuesday evening.

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Don’t panic. I know, it doesn’t look good when you start breaking down the numbers. There’s a 60% chance we’re staring down a disaster in the making shouting “Same old Knicks” from the top of the Empire State Building, but there’s also an NBA-leading 14% chance the ‘Bockers win probably the most important lottery since 2003 for LeBron James. With Patrick Ewing — our only draft lottery win back in 1985 — representing the Knicks in Chicago on Tuesday, it’s only fitting for him to pass the torch to our next homegrown potential star.

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Overall, I keep the mindset of just landing in the top three (Zion, Morant, Barrett) to keep our roadmap of bringing Kevin Durant and another top free agent to NYC on target this summer. I’m also in the camp that’s more open to dealing the pick in a package (once given a commitment from KD and dependent where we land) to get a player such as Anthony Davis, C.J. McCollum or Bradley Beal that might be available.

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Sit down and do your best at trying to relax when everything gets going at the Hilton Chicago around 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN leading into game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

**Whatever you believe will give us luck tomorrow night, make sure you do it before you go to sleep Monday my fellow NYK compatriots** 

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New York Knicks, Thank You For This Season

“The 2018-2019 New York Knicks: They walked so the 2019-2020 New York Knicks could run.”

The Knicks finished the 17-65, which officially is the worst record in the NBA. The Knicks traded away their franchise player, Kristaps Porzingis, and upset the fanbase in the process. A lineup of Dennis Smith Jr, Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Luke Kornet, and Mitchell Robinson struck fear into the hearts of many opponents… kidding. The Knicks have won a total of ten games since December 1st.

After all of the losing, I can safely sit here and say I have hope. For the first time in 20 years, the Knicks have a plan.

THE KNICKS HAVE AN ACTUAL PLAN!

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The regime doesn’t have Phil Jackson so that’s a good start. David Fizdale is a proven NBA coach who wants to win in New York. Young players like Alonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson (sorry, Frank) developed into quality NBA players with high ceilings. Because of their constant losing, the Knicks will have a legitimate shot at the number one pick to drat Zion Williamson.

Did I mention that the Knicks have room for two max contracts?

Did I also mention that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are rumored to sign with the Knicks?

Batman and Robin. Durant and Irving. It’s time to take back Gotham City.

None of this is possible without the 2018-2019 Knicks. So truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for this season. Next year will be our year.

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OR the Knicks will swing and miss in free agency and won’t draft Zion. All things are possible!

NOW HIT THE MUSIC!

So The Knicks Just Traded Kristaps Porzingis…

 

Source: HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

*takes deep breath, wheezes slightly, takes two (2) puffs of my rescue inhaler*

OKAY

Don’t worry. I swear I’m here to be therapeutic (as of this point in the blog. I have a lot of thoughts and I’m not sure where this will end up. Don’t hold me to that). Look, I’m here to be objective. I’m not a Knicks fan nor am I a Mavs fan, though I recently did convert to Lukaism. Praise be to Doncic. Amen.

So, let me talk you through this by saying something to help calm everyone down. My favorite team traded away James Harden. Make you feel better? Probably not, because Knicks fans have been molded by a special glue made of anti-depressants and constant disappointment. So, let me take you through the stages of accepting that your team traded away a young star.

Step 1: Watch This Clip From The Wedding Singer While Looking At Pictures Of Said Traded Player

I swear on my life this is one of the funniest scenes in movie history. The second chorus makes me crack up every time. Don’t be afraid to cry, friends.

Step 2: I Hate This Team. Why Would They Do This To Me?

I promise you, this trade was 100% a personal attack on you and you alone. James Dolan fucking hates you, and everything he does is to spite you until the day you die. Just like Clay Bennett hated me until 2 summers ago by refusing to pay the luxury tax.

Step 3: Okay, Objectively We Got Some Decent Pieces Back

Key pieces to the OKC-HOU trade for Harden.

Draft Picks: 2 first round picks

Promising Young Player: Jeremy Lamb

Strong Veteran Presence: Kevin Martin

Centerpiece: James Harden, a promising young player in his third year in the league.

Now, compare that to the Knicks trade of Porzingis.

Draft Picks: 2 first round picks. Weird coincidence!

Promising Young Player: Dennis Smith Jr. Ok the similarities are a little scary.

Strong Veteran Presence: Wesley Matthews & DeAndre Jordan. I’m having flashbacks.

Centerpiece: Kristaps Porzingis, a promising young player in his third ye–OH COME ON.

Step 4: Rationalize

When Harden was traded, nobody knew his ceiling. And yes, Kristaps has had better seasons with a heavier load on a worse team, but this is a gentle reminder, and I can not stress this enough: YOU DID NOT TRADE JAMES HARDEN. Kristaps is an incredible young player, but he is not a GENERATIONAL talent. Who knows what his ceiling is, but it is almost assuredly not (possible multiple) MVP, and he might never be the best player on his own team, because Luka Doncic is that good.

And look, now you have 2 max salary spaces this summer, and you cannot afford to mess this up. Last time the Knicks were in this position, they whiffed on LeBron so they spent on a veteran with bad knees (Amare Stoudemire), which worries me with Kyrie and his injury history said to be an option in the summer. It is now fully Kevin Durant and Kawhi or Kevin Durant and trade for Anthony Davis this summer. Reminder: Melo was also a free agent the year AFTER the biggest free agency period in league history, but, and again I cannot stress this enough…AD IS NOT MELO (no fucking duh Jared). He is that much better. If the Pelicans call and ask for your picks and young guys, you almost assuredly have to say yes if you can pair him with any of the members of this summers free agency class.

 

That was easy. Congrats, you’ve now moved on. Unlike OKC, the Knicks can spend in the summer and genuinely hope to attract one or more of these guys. There is a real chance that they can and will land a major signing this summer. And they have to. This trade can’t be judged until July, plain and simple.

 

Bonus: Me Being A Wet Blanket

I just don’t get the appeal of playing for the Knicks right now. When they were last TRULY relevant, every one of these guys was just probably learning to play the game. So what’s the appeal now? Let me sort you through the Knicks free agency pitches that they can offer.

Marketing

Uh, guys, it’s fucking 2019. KD signed a $250 MILLION shoe deal WITH STOCK OPTIONS while playing in Oklahoma.

We Have A Young Core Playing In New York City…The Mecca!!!

You might not even have the best young core in the state! The Nets play in the same city and have twice the young talent at this moment. Though I’m bullish on Knox, Trier, and Robinson, it hasn’t amounted to anything but the worst record in basketball this season. Of course it’s only Season 1 (Season 2 if you include Frank Ntilikina), but Brooklyn has had none of their own picks for about 30 seasons give or take, and they’re a playoff team!

Okay, But The Barclays Center Isn’t MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

How does this pitch sound to you? “Hey, you should come play in New York, where, after a debilitating season sweep by Orlando, you can take a 3 hour commute home in gridlock traffic?”

Did that do the trick? How about this one? “Listen, nowhere else on the planet can a team be bad, sell out every game, and then lose to a depleted Cleveland team, where you can think about how bad it is to be an employee of James Dolan during your trip home to Saddle River, where it will take you 2 hours to get through the Lincoln Tunnel, which has only one tube open for no apparent reason?”

You Get To Be An Employee Of James Dolan

Okay, I wouldn’t pitch that. In fact, I’d probably totally avoid that.

 

Good luck Knicks fans. I truly hope this summer is a good one. Because if it’s not, it really might be time to start considering if this team will ever be good again.

The New York Knicks: A Look At The Start Of The Season, What To Expect, And Where They’re Headed

***Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog written by Tyler Cunnington.***

The New York Knicks are a different team than they have been in YEARS. One with a ridiculously young roster, megatons of potential across the board, and most importantly, a coach that cares.

Yes, it has only been four games into the season and yes, they’re 1-3. However, in their last two games, they nearly took down the Boston Celtics and fell short to the Milwaukee Bucks. Against the Celtics, the absence of Gordon Hayward certainly helped New York out, who would not have been able to manage both Irving and Hayward come the 4th quarter. After mounting a comeback versus The Greek Freak and company, going basket for basket in the third quarter, the deep ball eventually buried them in the fourth quarter and the Bucks ran away with it to win by nine. Additionally, if not for the red hot Khris Middleton dropping 30 points on 7/8 from beyond the arc (Middleton is shooting 65% through the first three games.), the Knicks could have found themselves winning on the road versus an Eastern playoff contender.

Using that as a segue — one thing this group has going for them is their defense. There’s a lot of upside. They are 14th in the league in points allowed per game, 5th in steals per game, and 5th in points allowed off of turnovers. Frank Ntilikina, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr. and off-season addition Noah Vonleh have all shown the ability to stay with their man and disrupt opposing teams’ offensive flow, which is a credit to their improving overall team defense. Kanter has been the anchor of the defense, providing rim protection in the paint especially without Kristaps Porzingis, who has been out since February with an ACL injury.

However, 20-year-old 1st round pick Ntilikina out of France (thanks to Phil Jackson before his timely departure from New York) has also developed more since his rookie campaign, showing flashes of great awareness and IQ on the defensive end. By the end of the season, Ntilikina could very well be a primary defender for the Blue and Orange, if not a year from now. In fact, the French Prince (a name donned by NBA Twitter) was ranked as one of the best pick & roll defenders of the 2017 season. Ntilikina’s wingspan and long strides help him get around quickly while covering the passing lanes. Vonleh has used his size, strength, and stamina to stay active in the paint and guard from the perimeter as well as provide a spark off the bench (Vonleh averages 17 min. per game). Note that there’s been no mention of the Knickerbocker’s second round pick Mitchell Robinson, who possesses potential to become a great rebounder and rim protector, or the 2018 first rounder Kevin Knox, who has great length as well. Robinson, however, has been limited after injuring his ankle versus the Hawks in the season opener and hasn’t been 100% during his minutes since — and Knox, who faces a similar issue after spraining his ankle early versus the Celtics two games ago, has been ruled out for three weeks. Both rookies must improve their footwork in order to make the basic steps towards being a good defender, but with Knox turning 19 years old this season, and Robinson coming off a year with no organized basketball – there is PLENTY of time for growth in all facets of their games, not just defense.

The Knicks continue to trend in the right direction this season because of a roster that has bought in to the philosophy of new head coach David Fizdale. The former leader of the Memphis Grizzlies seems to have found a new home at MSG and the players – and fans – have already taken a liking to the new hire. The faster paced offense, running the court in transition, and tenacity on defense are all new styles implemented by Fizdale, ideas that are nothing new to the NBA, but are to the Knicks — which is telling of the success the Knicks have had the past couple of seasons (among other issues and front office decisions). In fact, Fizdale did not start Knox (among other reasons, too, I’m sure) in the season opener because of his defense, and it’s been made clear to players you will need to play both sides of the court to earn your minutes. (And I love it). Getting the ball past mid court quickly, spending more time on the offensive end, and thanks to Kanter and Vonleh, and the newly added offensive rule that adds 14 seconds to the shot clock if the shooting team grabs the rebound – the Knicks have been getting up more shots and scoring more points as a result. Transition has become a new weapon to the Knicks as the youth of the roster allows for speedy breakouts, and athletic finishes — Fizdale also allows any player to bring the ball up. As soon as the Knicks can fully harness their shooting ability (specifically the three ball, especially in the absence of Courtney Lee), it will become even more lethal.

When set in the half-court, the Knicks have found several names on offense that can contribute with double digits in either points or rebounds. Enes Kanter has averaged a double-double every game, including a 17 point, 15 rebound performance against Boston. He’s a force on the boards, and in the paint – even flashing a newly added outside range after hitting a three pointer versus the Celtics as the game went basket for basket during the 3rd quarter. Whether it was wide open or not, the newfound range is an encouraging sign for the big man. Noah Vonleh played well versus Boston, notching 13 boards along with seven points, and scored 11 points and five rebounds against Milwaukee while also covering Giannis in many situations. Trey Burke shows versatility in his shots, slashing to the basket one possession and working the pick and role, while also hitting 16 footers and beyond. Burke put up a stat line of 19 points, five rebounds and four assists versus the Bucks, and nearly a double double with 11 and nine versus Boston. Hardaway has 104 total points which is the third most in the league, and barring an improvement in shot selection and field goal percentage, could sneak in as an All-Star reserve. Shooting guard Alonzo Trier has been a pleasant surprise for the Knicks as the undrafted rookie has already thrown down a soaring poster dunk versus Atlanta, shown range from beyond the arc, and displayed the ability to isolate and score (hence his twitter handle ISO_ZO). Other names that over time can develop a solid offensive game include center Noah Vonleh and second year guard Dameyon Dotson (who scored 14 pts last night). What’s encouraging about the Knicks offense is how much the young players can develop while also establishing their roles on offense without too much pressure to win. On top of it all, they are missing the All-Star talent, and heart of the team, Kristaps Porzingis. The upside of this Knicks team must excite the fans watching at home because, everything that can be accomplished without the Unicorn is an added bonus.

This season is essentially a showcase to garner any free agent interest this Summer. With Kristaps Porzingis fully healthy next year, if the Knicks can perform well this season (“Well” being anywhere from 25-35 wins, or above a .500 record), it could make for an intriguing 2019-2020 campaign with the playoffs in its sights.

The New York Knickerbockers have only played four games, and it may feel like the usual style of losing, but do not fear. This organization is on its way out of the tanking phase. In a few season, the Knicks should return to the exciting brand of basketball many fans remember from years past, whether it was #Knickstape at the start of the decade, or the 1990s. Regardless, fans should not lament another Knicks season but rather welcome it – there’s plenty to look out for this season and you don’t want to miss the start of a new era at MSG.

What If: The Knicks Never Traded For Carmelo Anthony?

In February of 2011, the Knicks traded Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick, the Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick and $3 million in cash for Carmelo Anthony. The trade was unpopular from the beginning, if only because Carmelo wanted to be a Knick and was due to hit unrestricted free agency after the season. So, let’s go with the theory here that Melo comes to NY on a max contract in free agency and the Knicks still have all of the pieces they traded.

First, let’s focus on the draft picks that they traded. The Knicks 2014 first-rounder was traded by Denver to Philly. The pick? Dario Saric, who was a ROY contender and is a very solid NBA player. If the Knicks wound up with a better record via the Melo signing, and therefore a later pick, players like Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Zach LaVine, and Clint Capela were still available after that pick.

Next up are the Warriors 2012 and 2013 second round picks. The Warriors second rounder was used on Draymond Green (though Khris Middleton was also still on the board). Imagine that. The 2015 Knicks would have had a roster of Melo, Green/Middleton, and Saric/Harris/Capela (Jokic was taken too late for the first round pick to be used on realistically, as he was still available in the next round. Assuming Amare Stoudemire’s knees still buckled, there’s a situation in which the success of this rebuilt roster would convince a top-tier power forward to commit via free agency to fill out this starting roster. That team has very serious Finals potential.

Now, let’s include the players that they traded FOR Carmelo. Wilson Chandler is still an incredibly useful player in today’s NBA, Ray Felton has morphed into a 3 point weapon and top-tier backup point guard, and Danilo Gallinari has been a very solid player (whilst healthy). The Knicks don’t have the cap space to match Mozgov’s contract and let him go. This is an incredibly solid roster top-to-bottom, and could have been a real challenger in the Eastern Conference. Do they ever win a title in the LeBron-run East? Probably not, but I wouldn’t count them out as the number one challengers to the Heat’s greatness. Adding in some players that they already had or added in the between years (Jason Kidd specifically) and they are a very real problem.

The only major loss is that they probably never are in a position to draft Kristaps Porzingis, but that was an incredibly weak draft so that roster spot is virtually void.

Overall, this trade altered NBA history, especially when it comes to the Knicks, and ultimately might have cost them a shot at a real run at the NBA Finals.


If you have any suggestions for “What If?” holler at me on Twitter @oh_my_gos.

Kevin Knox Continues To Impress For The Knicks In NBA Summer League

Today is July 9th and The Kevin Knox Hype Train has left the station. It’s very easy to get excited as a Knicks fan after watching Kevin Knox tear it up in the NBA Summer League. Through two games, Knox is averaging 20.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.0 APG. A lot of “Knicks made the right pick” chatter has been thrown around and I’m telling you that I agree with this sentiment. Knox filled a void that the team needed. He’s a young, stretch 3/4 that can put the ball in the bucket, guard multiple positions, and as seen in the videos above, has more athleticism than expected.

That being said, please, please, PLEASE do not anoint Knox as the chosen one or the Savior of Gotham or the second coming of Christ. This is the NBA Summer League with the emphasis on SUMMER. The best players in the NBA do not play in these exhibition games. I’m not taking away anything that Knox has done because his two games have been impressive. Knox’s game shows tremendous signs of promise. Let’s just slow our roll a bit and see what Knox can do on Christmas Day at MSG when the stage is a lot higher than an exhibition in Las Vegas.

Until then, as a diehard Knicks fan, it’s refreshing to hear positive things being said about the Knicks so let’s enjoy it while it lasts. Keep it up, Knox.

The New York Knicks Select Kevin Knox In The NBA Draft

With the 9th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Kevin Knox.

Instant reaction: Solid, safe pick. Going into the draft, the Knicks were going to be selecting from a group of players that could fit in nicely with the system that David Fizdale is trying to run, which relies on strong defense and the ability to make 3s. My guess is that the Knicks would be selecting one of the following four players: Michael Porter Jr. Collin Sexton, Wendell Carter, and Kevin Knox. Carter and Sexton were picked before 9, and Porter Jr.’s medical sheet was worse than expected. So that left Kevin Knox as the last man standing, which is exactly who the Knicks selected.

Knicks Twitter seemed quite happy with the pick, but the crowd preferred Porter Jr. over Knox, which I can understand to an extent. Our NBA insider LordTreeSap was on the scene to capture the crowd reaction.

Although the fans booed and chanted for MPJ, as I referenced above, Knicks Twitter and NBA Twitter in general seemed to like that pick (as did I).

This is what you want in a Knicks draft pick. You want someone who doesn’t care about being booed. Just like Porzingis, you want a player who is willing to take the challenge and turn those boos into cheers. Kevin Knox is excited to be a Knick and I am happy to have him. The Knicks filled a need, which was a stretch 3/4 who could guard and play multiple positions. On a stacked Kentucky team, Knox became the go-to player down the stretch, winning the SEC co-Freshman of the Year with Collin Sexton. Knox can hit a consistent pull up jump shot. He’s long, athletic, and has not even hit his ceiling of what he can become as a player. I’m not saying Knox a franchise player, but I could see him scoring 15 PPG as a staple in the rotation these next two years. I LOVE the comparison to Jayson Tatum. Sometimes, the college game does not let you showcase your full arsenal of tricks because it’s a more team-oriented game. That was true for Tatum as he became the best player on the Celtics once Kyrie and Hayward went down. Will that happen with Knox? With Porzingis out for most of the season, Knox will get a chance to silence his critics.

Welcome to the squad, Kevin. Let’s get to work.

LordTreeSap’s Official 2018 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

It’s finally NBA Draft week and there is still much to be decided outside of the consensus No. 1, sending Arizona’s transcendent center DeAndre Ayton to Phoenix, with some of the most turbulent franchises picking in the top 5.

A draft class that was once thought to be weak now has turned into another stacked group loaded with talent throughout the lottery. The 2018 class finds an excess of versatile big men at the top which could swing the league back from the small ball that’s dominated in recent years.

Make sure to tune in when everything gets rolling on ESPN Thursday (June 20) at 7 PM EST. For now, check out our official lottery mock draft below. (Picks are subject to change as more information becomes available)

1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

Ayton enjoyed a highly successful freshman campaign at Arizona, even though it ended with a first-round exit in the NCAA tournament. DeAndre is one of four freshmen in college basketball history to average more than 20 points and 11 rebounds in their first season. He joins some elite company alongside 2018 prospect Marvin Bagley, Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. The 7-footer has the prototypical frame for the new-age athletic freak seen in the NBA. His game should project well at the next level with a soft touch around the basket and NBA 3-point range. All of a sudden, the Suns possess a solid core that could blossom if developed properly over the next few years.

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2. Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, Duke

It’s been rumored that the Kings are enamored with prospects such as Duke’s Marvin Bagley and the polarizing Michael Porter. When something makes too much sense like selecting a Luka Doncic here, the Kings tend to go against the grain and pull off the unexpected. They should probably go B.P.A. with such a bare roster featuring not much to believe in beyond DeAaron Fox, but I guess you can’t kill them for pairing a potential all-star big man with a backcourt of Fox and Hield.

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3. Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic, Real Madrid

Atlanta is another team that can go in just about every direction. If this scenario plays out, I can’t see ATL passing on a talent like Doncic, who experts are saying has potential to be the best player out of the bunch when we look back in five years. John Collins was a solid pick in the first round for the Hawks in 2017, let’s see them make it two hits in a row. Admittedly, I haven’t watched a ton of Doncic, but he seems to be in the distributor mold of a Hedo Turkoglu and Manu Ginobili. He probably best translates as a shooting guard and needs to improve his stroke from downtown and penetrating ability to be most effective.

4. Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson, Michigan State – *TRADE* Marc Gasol to the Lakers for Kuzma, Josh Hart, Luol Deng, and 2020 First Rounder

Memphis is in an odd situation here as a team that could bottom out or go for the post-season again as they’re tied into a core of Gasol, Conley and unfortunately Parsons for another two seasons. I could see them dealing Gasol to a star-hungry team like the Lakers on draft night and slide their neophyte center in to replace Marc.

Don’t panic Grizz nation, this isn’t Hasheem Thabeet 2.0 as Jackson maintains way less bust potential. Jaren has a lot of skills that can translate to the NBA and even boasted the top box plus/minus in the country out of all freshman this season. At only 18-years-old, the versatile athlete can be an impact player on both ends at the Grind House.

5. Dallas Mavericks – Mo Bamba, Texas

One of my favorite prospects in this entire draft, Bamba immediately comes in to anchor a defense and can be an elite rim runner. He’s recently been boasting more of an ability to step out and extend his range as a jump shooter to the three-point line, which is a scary proposition for someone boasting this kind of length. The Mavs should be thrilled to roll the dice with a talent like Bamba at 5. The team isn’t committed to any contract besides Dennis Smith after next season. The pair should provide an elite pick and roll combination.

6. Orlando Magic – Michael Porter Jr., Missouri

This is really where the draft begins. I’m confident the previously named prospects will be the first five names called off the board next Thursday. Porter has been linked in a range from the top 3 to the bottom of the lottery. A lot of this hinges teams’ medical staffs to sign off on the possible selection. As part of his vamped up workout regiment, back spasms and a hip strain initially thought he would have to cancel another workout. It’s no secret Orlando would love to select a guard. This may be too high for Trae Young, who may very well end up being the pick. For now, let’s say everything checks out for Porter. He could be too talented a prospect to pass up on.

7. Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter, Duke

Chicago is actually in a great spot cap-wise going forward after a bunch of contracts come off the books following this season. With a core of Dunn, Lavine, Valentine, and Markkanen already intact, an all-around big alongside Lauri makes perfect sense for the Bulls. Carter can come in and give Chicago one of the most versatile young front lines in basketball, with something Chi-town residents can be proud of every night. There are some experts that believe Carter could end up being a better pro than his college teammate Marvin Bagley.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Trae Young, Oklahoma

The Cavaliers will still be in LeBron purgatory when they make their selection come draft night. Do they deal the pick for a proven veteran in hopes to retain LBJ? I believe they need to take the best player available and prepare for post-LeBron life, who has until June 29 to decide if he will opt-in to his player option for 2018. Trae Young is another polarizing prospect and the splashiest pick Cleveland can make at No. 8. The Cavs are starved for scoring and an influx of youth at PG with just George Hill and Jordan Clarkson on the roster. The unprecedented shooter is worth a roll of the dice at this point.

9. New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, Villanova

The Knicks could go a multitude of directions here. There have been rumors of possibly trading up with the Grizzlies while taking on Chandler Parsons’ disastrous contract along with the No. 4 pick. I believe the Knicks will hone in on a wing here which is a huge position of need. I love what I saw out of Bridges this year, even though he’s years older than Kevin Knox out of Kentucky. Mikal comes into the league with a higher floor than most. Three and D players are thriving in the league and he fits the bill with great length and shooting ability. He’s also a versatile fit at the four alongside Zinger in our small ball lineups for the future.

*Other Viable Options: Kevin Knox, Lonnie Walker, Collin Sexton*

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10. Philadelphia 76ers – Kevin Knox, Kentucky

Philly is in a great spot with the 10th pick which they receive courtesy of the Lakers. Some believe they could package this pick along with a Fultz/Saric for a proved veteran and still have cap room to bring in another star in free agency. If the Sixers stay put, they should take the highest player on their board. Kevin Knox is still just 18-years-old and could be the type of polished scorer that can put the ball in from just about anywhere on the floor. Knox is raw but boasts great potential and size if it all comes together in a few years, just make sure to be patient. He could end up being a Tobias Harris type of player.

11. Charlotte Hornets – Collin Sexton, Alabama

Sexton was one of the most exciting players to watch in basketball this year, willing his Alabama team to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Collin’s a fearless finisher around the rim and plays much bigger than his 6’2″ frame. His jump shot (33% from 3pt) and defense should get more consistent throughout his career. I believe the only thing that will hold him back from stardom is his playmaking ability (3.6 assists/g) for others on the floor. The 19-year-old will be a blessing for the Hornets as their heir-apparent to Charlotte staple Kemba Walker, who enters the final year of his contract. Sign me up for a Sexton-Monk backcourt.

12. Los Angeles Clippers – Lonnie Walker IV, Miami

Lonnie Walker is a name that has picked up serious steam in the pre-draft process and has seen his stock vault into the lottery. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I watched a bunch of Miami basketball so I won’t even waste your time as far as the type of player he could potentially fill out to be. The Clippers boast back-to-back picks so they could package one or both for either a veteran or move up to get the player of their choice. With really nobody on their payroll past next season, LAC should take the best player available.

13. Los Angeles Clippers – Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Miles Bridges is a player that was a sure-fire lock to go in the top 10 if he decided to enter the draft last year. He came back for his sophomore season and underperformed much like the Michigan State team as a whole. Bridges was oddly played out of position all season at shooting guard when he should’ve been down low at the four alongside Jaren Jackson. Miles settled for too many jumpers and his numbers were just similar and maybe a bit worse than his freshman campaign outside of his much-improved shooting at the charity stripe. This is a great situation for him to enter in Los Angeles.

14. Denver Nuggets – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky

The Nuggets came within a game of the post-season when they fell short with a loss on the last day of the regular season to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the right to clinch the 8th seed. Denver still ended up with a successful 46-win campaign. The Nuggets are set with a core of Jokic and Milsap down low with Harris and Jamal Murray in the backcourt. They could either go with a small forward or playmaking lead guard here. I have them taking Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who made serious strides over the course of the year under Calipari, showcasing aptitude as a facilitator (5.1 assists/g). He also causes match up problems at 6’6″ and with a nearly 7-foot wingspan.

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