With NBA Draft talk heating up, the New York Knicks find themselves in an interesting, and potentially unfavorable position.
With the first two picks essentially locked up as Karl Anthony-Towns and Jahlil Okafor, it seems that the Philadelphia 76ers will take D’Angelo Russell with the third overall pick after trading away Michael Carter-Williams at the trade deadline this year. That leaves the Knicks left at number four, with the two positions they needed help in still lacking talent.
This might not seem favorable to many. It certainly was not to me when I first heard the news that the Knicks had fallen to fourth in the draft order. But as I thought to myself, and looked at some potential free agent targets, I began to see a whole new candidate arise in my eyes who I had not considered prior to the Draft Lottery; Justise Winslow.
Winslow, a 6’6, 222 lb wing out of Duke, is one of the highly billed prospects coming out college, but does he make sense for the Knicks? In my eyes, he makes too much sense.
During his lone season at Duke, Winslow was an integral component of Duke’s NCAA Championship run. Over 29.1 minutes per game, Winslow averaged 12.6 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game, and 1.3 steals per game on 48.6% shooting from the field and 41.8% shooting from three point range.
Over the course of his season, Winslow proved to be the complete package as he played second, and sometimes third fiddle to Duke stars Jahlil Okafor and Quinn Cook or Tyus Jones, but still managed to post a remarkable seven double-doubles on the season.
Coming out of college, Winslow has proven that he can be an athletic, explosive threat on both ends of the court.
After trading away J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers midway through last season, the Knicks athleticism currently revolves around Tim Hardaway Jr., and with the addition of Winslow, it would be significantly improved.
Though playing in the shadow of some Duke players last season, Winslow was still capable of taking over and dominating games as he proved against Syracuse, one of the top teams in the ACC.
Though I am making out Winslow to be perfect, that is certainly not the case. One of his largest flaws is his free throw shooting. Over the course of last season, Winslow posted a 64.1% mark from the charity stripe. While this can be fixed with NBA level coaches addressing some of his minor mechanical issues, it clearly is a dent on his impressive resume.
The reason that this would be such a wise pick for the Knicks is two-fold. First, it would mean that if Winslow was to start at the three, Carmelo Anthony could start at power forward, a position at which he has found considerably more success than when he starts at Small Forward. Secondly, it would add some defensive depth to a front court that is projected to be lacking.
Based off of recent rumors, it seems as if Greg Monroe to New York is a done deal and because of this, he will likely start at center. Carmelo Anthony is an average defender at best, and while Monroe is a good rebounder, he leaves much to be desired with his low post defense. Winslow would be the difference in the front, with his standout defense.
This would also allow for the Knicks to go after targets such as DeMarre Carroll of the Atlanta Hawks, who could potentially start at the two guard paving the way for the Knicks to then target a big free agent point guard such as Reggie Jackson, Goran Dragic or even Rajon Rondo.
With the money left over, the Knicks would be able to build a deeper bench, and who knows, that team could potentially develop into a contender with more young talent added, and a whole new mentality instilled.
Justise Winslow doesn’t only make sense as the fourth overall draft pick, he makes sense as a player who could shape the Knicks pivotal offseason and future.