Posted Jun 17 2011 11:29AM
The New York Knicks have the stars. Now, they need to build around them.
In Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks have two guys who will draw extra defenders and put the ball in the basket. To properly complement them, the Knicks need players who can shoot, players who can handle the ball, and most of all, they need players who can defend.
When they acquired Anthony from the Denver Nuggets in February, the Knicks lost quite a bit of depth. And after the trade, they were outscored by 54 points in 776 minutes with Anthony and Stoudemire on the floor together, evidence that they were both pretty awful defensively and lacking shooters around the two stars.
The 2011 NBA Draft is supposed to be relatively weak. But with the 17th pick, the Knicks don't need to find another star, or even necessarily a starter. As they stand though, they need to restock positions 4 through 9 in Mike D'Antoni's rotation. They need a contributor, no matter what position he plays.
The Knicks should try to remain as financially flexible as possible for the summer of 2012, in case a third star wants to team up with Anthony and Stoudemire. That's another reason that, if they're going to hand out a guaranteed contract to a rookie they select with the 17th pick, they'll need him to be ready to play.
Appropriately, the vast majority of players that the Knicks have brought in for workouts have been juniors and seniors. They were successful in drafting a senior, Landry Fields, a year ago. And with a top-heavy roster, they aren't in a position to take much of a risk at 17.
For a second-round pick, Fields had a terrific rookie season. But he lost confidence after the Anthony trade and was an offensive liability late in the season and in the first round against the Celtics. So, as he heads into the second year of his two-year deal, Fields' starting job is up for grabs.
Shooting guard seems to be the position the Knicks will target in the draft, whether it be for a player to back Fields up or move him into a sixth-man role. They could have a few options at the two with the 17th pick.
If the Knicks are lucky, Klay Thompson, son of former No. 1 pick Mychal Thompson, will be one of them. Thompson, a 6-foot-6 junior from Washington State, was one of the first players to work out in New York. And this week, he told the Racine Journal Times that Knicks president Donnie Walsh told him that he reminded Walsh of Reggie Miller, who Walsh selected with the 11th pick in 1987.
The 2011 Draft will be the last business that Walsh conducts as team president, and he would probably love nothing more than to draft another Miller before he moves on to a consulting role. But Thompson is projected by most mock drafts to be selected before No. 17. As are Florida State's Chris Singleton and BYU's Jimmer Fredette, a New York native and another shooter that the Knicks would love to complement Anthony and Stoudemire with.
Beyond Thompson and Fredette, the best wing options may be better scorers than shooters. These include Providence's Marshon Brooks and Tennessee's Tobias Harris. Brooks is a 6-foot-5 senior who set the Big East scoring record with 52 points against Notre Dame last season. Harris is a 6-foot-8 freshman from Tennessee and another New York native, whose skill set is comparable to that of Anthony.
If the Knicks are looking for more of a defender in the backcourt, then Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert may be high on their board. The 6-foot-5 junior lacks a polished offensive game, but, like Fields, has the all-around skills that could complement the Knicks' two stars.
Of course, as much as they'd love another contributor in the backcourt, a shot-blocker may be the Knicks' most pressing need. The New York Post has reported that the team is looking to buy a later pick in the draft, and that may be with Purdue's JaJuan Johnson in mind. The 6-foot-10 senior, who has a 7-1 wingspan and averaged 2.3 blocks last season, worked out for the Knicks early in the process and is projected to be selected late in the first round or early in the second.
As they stand, the Knicks are without a second-round pick. They hit a home run with the 39th pick a year ago, but should be happy with No. 17 in 2011. They're finally back in position to win now, and they need somebody who's ready to step in and contribute.
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