Zion Williamson will not be a Knick. It is really a sad thing.
The New York Knicks received the third pick in the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night. They had the best odds to land the number one pick (14 percent) but fell to three. The new lottery odds are cruel.
People are, fairly enough, disappointed in the news. Knicks fans wanted Zion, the league wanted Zion in New York, and Ja Morant- the likely #2 pick- would have been a great consolation prize. Instead they will pick third.
I had laid out how I would feel with each potential pick the Knicks would land over on Twitter (PLEASE follow me to protect my vanity).
I stand by what I said here. I’m not celebrating, but I am not upset. I, naturally, feel some amount of disappointment because I wanted Zion Williamson so badly, but I am ok. They could have landed 4 or 5 which would have been an abject disaster. I would have broken stuff. I’m not breaking stuff.
Honestly, the more I think about it, the happier I am. The Knicks will be in a position to draft RJ Barrett or Ja Morant at 3. The likely scenario is Barrett, but there is a world where the Grizzlies- who have the #2 pick- could prefer RJ or think he fits their team better. It depends a lot on how they feel about Mike Conley. Either way, though, that would be an awesome pick for the Knicks.
Of course, there is reason to believe there is a scenario where the Knicks do something dumb. They’re still the Knicks. There were reports the other day that they love Cam Reddish, and if that is true then it is easy to imagine them reaching on the Duke wing with the third pick.
I inadvertently watched a decent amount of RJ Barrett this season when I was watching Duke for Zion purposes, and I have to be honest: I really like him, still. People seem to have soured on him more and more as the season progressed, but I haven’t. I think part of that is that he showed a lack of consistency shooting from deep range. To me, shooting consistency is one of the last things to come to fruition for a player, and he showed that he has the aptitude and enough ability to learn from it.
RJ could probably come into the league and immediately be a solid defender as well. That was something he was good at at Duke and in high school. He’s a two-way talent with solid length as a 2/3. His height is 6-6, but he has a really nice wingspan going for him at 6-9. He has a certain degree of natural scoring ability that I think could only improve as time goes on. I love his touch around the paint, his floated ability, and his lateral quickness on both offense and defense, from what we have seen so far.
Moreover, there is a very good chance that the Knicks sign Kevin Durant this summer. KD would be coming to New York to be “the man,” and RJ may be the perfect guy to pair with him. Zion may have been too big a star for KD’s liking. Zion would have soon become the face of the franchise. Morant would have likely come with some similar attention. RJ is really good- he was viewed as the better prospect in high school- but would not come with that same focus. He has a similar-enough body build and skillset to Durant, I think, that he could learn a lot from being with him in his early seasons, if the KD rumors are true. RJ also, I think, would fit the team’s needs a bit better, assuming they sign KD and another max player like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker (or Kawhi Leonard?). There would still be a hole at the wing, and Barrett could fit that need, especially with his defensive capabilities.
Finally, along with the chances of getting Zion, it seems like the Knicks’ chances of pulling off a trade for Anthony Davis went out the window with this lottery. I am, personally, okay with that, but can understand the disappointment for sure. The reason that possibility likely went away is three-fold:
- The Pelicans won the lottery and can now just pick Zion with their own pick
- The Knicks fell to three and not two
- The Lakers jumped into the top 4, so with that pick as well as the rest of their roster, they have a better package available, overall, for AD, and are more motivated to make that trade since they have LeBron James.
Because Zion and AD will each not be Knicks, in all likelihood, this is obviously disappointing, given what could have been the results last night, but we shouldn’t be too upset. On the Knicks scale, this was a good day for the Knicks. They did not fall out of the top 3, and will likely be able to pick RJ Barrett, who may be the best guy to have in this draft if they are planning to coax Kevin Durant into orange and blue. Now they just need to make the right pick.