Thursday night was the NBA draft. The Knicks made one selection in each round and, all-in-all, had a good night.
With the No. 3 pick in the draft, the Knicks did not mess around and they took Duke star RJ Barrett. There had been rumors of a potential trade down or straight-up selection of Darius Garland from Vanderbilt plus the potential for someone to swoop in and blow the Grizzlies away at No. 2 to take RJ, but none of those things happened. The Knicks were able to do the simple and obvious thing and select the consensus third-best player with the third pick, in what is considered by many to be a “3-man draft” (which I don’t really like, but it’s true in that those three guys are supposed to be the biggest stars with the highest ceilings).
I was very happy with this selection. I’ve been on RJ for a long time, longer than I think I’ve ever been in on a potential Knicks pick before. If you told me before the season that the Knicks got him I would have been ecstatic and assumed he was taken at one or two, but they got him at three. That’s awesome. He also wants to be a Knick, like, really badly. It’s almost concerning how happy he is to be here, but I’m happy he does. The Barretts, famously from Canada, also have ties to New York, particularly on RJ’s mother’s side. His mom grew up in Brooklyn and his grandfather was a huge Knicks fan, according to RJ.
RJ has the potential to be the kind of lengthy do-it-all wing that you drool over. He notably has to work on his shooting consistency, but that is generally considered the easiest skill to develop once a player is at this stage. His mechanics are generally considered to be good, so he’s just a couple of slight adjustments away from being where he needs to be, reportedly.
He’s got a good head on his shoulders and is supposed to be a stone-cold-killer in game situations. You don’t get the nickname “Maple Mamba” for nothing.
The Knicks made another pick in this draft, though. They traded up from the 55th pick to draft Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis with No. 47. I cannot pretend I actually know much about him, but it seems like he has the potential to be a bench scorer in the NBA. Born in Lithunia, he actually grew up in Canada and played on the junior national team with RJ Barrett. They were the team’s top two scorers. Cool!
The draft isn’t necessarily over, though, as now the Knicks have to consider which undrafted guys to sign. They gave UCLA’s Kris Wilkes a two-way deal, they got Division II star Amir Hinton from Shaw University, and they just picked up VJ King from Louisville. They can always get more of those guys- they have to fill the summer league roster, anyway- and there are still some names out there, as far as I know, like Tacko Fall, who many wanted at 55.
In the end, this draft will be remembered for one guy and one guy only: RJ Barrett. Now they just need to do their job in free agency over the next few weeks. Could be fun.