Tagged: Hasheem Thabeet

Mullens a factor for Knicks at 8?

Probably not. But if the Knicks made nbadraft.net’s rumored swap of Wilson Chandler for the 5th pick? Maybe.

Here’s my thinking: Earlier today I wrote this as a comment to Dan’s post on the potential Chandler trade:

I’m a big supporter of the two lottery pick plan. I think Dan might be being a little optimistic in hoping we’ll come away with one of Thabeet and Hill and one of Rubio and Curry, but I like the idea of (1) getting one of Hill or Thabeet and one of the top guards or (2) trying to rebuild the entire backcourt in this draft.

Having thought the whole situation over a little bit more carefully, I don’t believe the Knicks would be picking up an extra lottery pick to target a big like Hill or Thabeet. If the Knicks are trading Chandler, I think it’s because they’ve identified their PG of the future as one of either Rubio (who I’d say has maybe a 20-25% chance of being there at 5 now) or Curry (85-90%) and they just can’t bear to miss out.

Chandler is a steep price to pay for a pick, especially in this draft, but the good news is that the Knicks would still have their pick at 8 to add to the talent base. Donnie Walsh could either try to find a Chandler replacement on the wing (DeMar DeRozan, Earl Clark, Gerald Henderson, or even Jrue Holiday) or use the 8th pick to try to address the team’s glaring hole in the frontcourt. If Jordan Hill or Hasheem Thabeet were still somehow on the board at 8, having already selected either Curry or Rubio with the 5th pick, I think taking either would be an easy choice. However, in all liklihood neither Hill nor Thabeet will be there.

So, if the Knicks wanted to go big with their second pick, they’d be left with a choice between players like Clark, James Johnson, DeJuan Blair, Tyler Hansbrough, and BJ Mullens. Conventional wisdom says that, of that group, Clark and Blair represent the best value at 8. That may be true and, if it is but those guys aren’t Donnie’s targets, the Knicks should trade down a few spots and try to pick up an extra asset. Somehow though, I have this feeling that even as things stand right now, the Knicks are seriously considering Mullens.

After Blake Griffin, no one in this draft has a higher upside than BJ Mullens. He’s a project and could be a total bust, but he could also become an all-star calibar big man. And if the Knicks get their PG at 5, I could see Walsh deciding to roll the dice on one of the only guys in this draft who has the type of talent that can change the fortunes of a franchise.

Chandler for the 5th?

Nbadraft.net is reporting that the Knicks offered Wilson Chandler in exchange for Washington’s 5th pick.

Man, these rumors are getting out of hand. Seems like there are as many rumors as conceivable scenarios.

If Chandler stayed in school he would have been eligible for this draft. Knowing what we know about him, I think he’d be pretty close to a top 5 pick.

Should the Knicks make this trade? Maybe. Wilson is one of the Knicks’ only two way players (the other being Hughes). He still has tremendous upside and is on his rookie deal for 2-3 more years.

I’d be sad to see Wilson (who is currently my favorite Knick) go, but if you can land Thabeet/Hill AND Curry/Rubio, do you do it? You sure as hell give it some serious thought.

So what’s the scenario?

Here we go yo.

There are so many scenarios that could play out this offseason. We’re getting to the point of the summer where there is so much information, and misinformation, that my head is spinning. I’m going to run through a few of these and give proposed lineups for next season. Of course, the end result will probably be that none of these are right.

1. Knicks keep their pick and wind up with Jrue Holiday, Stephen Curry, or Johnny Flynn. They trade David Lee, Wilson Chandler and a 2011 draft pick for Chris Bosh. They trade Nate Robinson for Marcus Camby. They trade Cuttino Mobley for Darko Milicic. They buy a late first rounder. They sign Channing Frye. Starting 5:

pg: Holiday/Curry/Flynn

sg: Hughes

sf: Harrington

pf: Chris Bosh

c: Marcus Camby

bench: Gallinari, Chase Budinger, Darko Milicic, Duhon, Frye

2. Knicks trade Chandler, the eight overall pick, and Mobley for Darko Milicic, Darrell Arthur, and the second overall pick and take Ricky Rubio. They trade David Lee, a future first rounder, and Duhon to the Pistons for Tayshaun Prince and Amir Johnson. They trade Nate Robinson for Sergio and Frye. They buy a mid to late first rounder. They sign Gortat.

pg: Rubio

sg: Hughes

sf: Prince

pf: Harrington

c: Gortat

bench: Gallinari, Sergio, Budinger/Sam Young, Darko, Frye, Johnson, etc

3. Knicks trade Chandler, the eight overall pick, and Mobley for Darko Milicic, Darrell Arthur, and the second overall pick and use it on Thabeet. They trade David Lee, a future first rounder, and Duhon to the Pistons for Tayshaun Prince and Amir Johnson. They later trade Harrington and Nate for Etan Thomas, Mike James, and the fifth pick (Stephen Curry). They buy a mid-first rounder.

pg: Curry

sg: Hughes

sf: Prince

pf: Gallinari

c: Thabeet

bench: James, Johnson, Arthur, Henderson, etc.

4. The Knicks keep the 8th pick and select Curry. They trade Lee, Chandler and Duhon to the Blazers for Sergio Martell Webster, and Travis Outlaw. They trade Nate and Harrington to the Wizards for the 5th pick, Thomas and James. They trade Mobley for Darko and the 24th pick. They sign Frye and Gortat.

pg: Sergio/Curry

sg: Tyreke Evans/Curry/Webster/Hughes

sf: Outlaw/Webster

pf: Gallinari/Darko

c: Gortat/Darko

bench: Darko/Evans/Webster/Hughes/Sergio/Frye

I’m done now. This could go on all day. These all look like solid teams though, and the point is, a lot can happen to drastically reshape the roster. Let’s hear some of your scenarios…

Handicapping the Knicks’ Pick

In my opinion, here are the odds of the Knicks drafting popular lottery prospects, from most to least likely:

Stephen Curry: 75%

This seems like a lock. Not only is Curry immensely talented but he also fills a need. With other prospects, you might have to give up some talent for fit or some fit for talent. It makes too much sense, and my impression of Curry’s constant expressions of love for the Knicks is that he’s trying to make clear that he’ll be unhappy playing elsewhere.

As an aside, I’ve often pointed to Bob Knight’s statement that Curry is one of the best passers to ever play college ball. Larry Brown, who is a harsh critic, particularly when it comes to point guards, echoed those sentiments, saying “I heard people rave about the way he shoots the ball. The most impressive thing to me is how he passes the ball. He’s a great passer.”

Johnny Flynn: 25%

It’s just a hunch but I think the order of preference for the Knicks is Rubio, Curry, Holiday and Flynn. Flynn is the second most likely choice because Holiday has quickly risen up draft boards. So if Curry is off the table, I think Flynn is the choice. And a good choice he’d be. While he’s not the best shooter, a lot of players come into the league with below average jumpers. It’s fixable. What Flynn does have is heart, hustle, good length, great point guard skills, and a winning attitude.

Jrue Holiday: 20%

In the unlikely event that Curry is selected before Holiday, and Holiday slides, the Knicks will scoop him up. He has risen quickly up draft boards because of his size, speed, and athleticism. Those are good traits to have in general, but alone they will not make you a good point guard. Holiday is a bit of a risk because while it is undeniable that he has all the physical tools to play in the NBA, his jumper is suspect, and his passing is unproven, as he played only one season at UCLA and played off the ball. In my opinion, the best way to evaluate a player is game film, so his sharp ascent might lead to a letdown. Maybe he’ll be Chauncey Billups one day, but maybe he’ll be Antonio Daniels.

Hasheem Thabeet: 15%

It’s hard to peg Thabeet’s place in the draft. The only team that was rumored to really like him was Memphis, but now they seem more enamored with Tyreke Evans and a rumored trade with the Kings in which they swap picks makes a lot of sense for both teams. It is possible though that he could wind up with Oklahoma or Washington. Minnesota is set up front (though they can add him to the rotation) and Golden State is repeating an experiment I tried in NBA Live once where my roster exclusively guards. There has been rumored interest on the part of Donnie Walsh for Thabeet, but I don’t think he loses a shot at a real point guard for Thabeet. Maybe a Lee or Nate or Harrington or Hughes trade for Etan Thomas, Mike James (Jon originally came up with this idea and it makes sense) and the 5th pick could land the Knicks Thabeet and still allow them to draft a point.

Jordan Hill: 15%

There haven’t been any Hill to the Knicks whispers at all, but he seems to be a popular candidate to slide in many mock drafts. He’d be a cheap Lee replacement but would offer more toughness than Lee and would block a shot or two. Still not sure if Donnie prefers that to a play-maker though.

Tyreke Evans: 10%

Evans has great size and athleticism. He’s a physical presence in the back-court or even as a 3, but be sure, he’s a wing, not a point guard. Not only that but he will dominate the ball, pound it into the ground, and shoot poorly. There has been reported interest on behalf of the Knicks but I’m selling that rumor as a smokescreen. Just because the Knicks are calling a guy’s agent, or trying to schedule workouts, it doesn’t mean he’s a legitimate target. The Knicks have had their fair share over the last epoch of selfish players who pound the ball into the ground and either recklessly bull their way into the paint or heave up a jumper (Marbury, Crawford, Robinson, Francis), and they won’t take a chance on another one.

James Harden: 5%

Harden’s basketball IQ and scoring prowess would force the Knicks to take a long hard look at him if he is still on the board at 8. It would almost certainly mean that both Curry and Holiday have been selected. People knock Harden’s athleticism but he has been compared to Paul Peirce, who isn’t overly athletic and who slid to 10 on draft day somehow.

Ricky Rubio: 5%

There is a chance that the Knicks could land Rubio. Reportedly Rubio is wants to play for the Knicks. But unless he says he will play only for the Knicks, the chances of getting him are very small because other teams he would consider would have more to offer the Grizzlies in a trade. If he did issue such an ultimatum, Knicks fans should be prepared to lose Wilson Chandler in exchange, since it is unlikely that David Lee, who is a restricted free-agent, and thus can simply take the qualifying offer if he doesn’t consent to his destination in a sign and trade, would agree to go to Memphis. At that point you have to ask yourself, with the Knicks looking to win now, does it really make them better to give up 8 and Chandler for a 17 year old who is sure to require time to adjust to a faster game with stronger opponnents and a new culture? I see this trade happening only if the Grizzlies can be convinced to accept an expiring contract and a future draft pick in exchange.

Brandon Jennings: 1%

There hasn’t been any indication that the Knicks have interest in Jennings, and why should they? Why should anyone in the first half of the draft? Jennings showed promise in high school against boys half his size but so did Gerald Green and Kwame Brown. After high school, Jennings went to Europe and barely got off the bench in Italy. Then was replaced on his squad for the playoffs by a back-up power forward. I don’t buy the notion that he should be given slack because he’s 18. So is Rubio. Again, even though he might be good one day, the Knicks are trying to win now, and it is unlikely that Jennings will bring anything to the table next year at point guard.

Prospect Wish List and Ish List

I’m not as saavy as to the college game as Jon, but I do have my opinions. I put together a wish list and an ish list for this year’s draft.

Wish List (only 8 deep, since it’s pointless to go past 8):

1. Stephen Curry: Elite shooter, elite passer, elite basketball I.Q., astute team defender. Talk about fitting like a glove.

2. Ricky Rubio: Jason Kidd to Curry’s Nash. Great defender, elite passer, creative with the ball, not much of a J.

3. Blake Griffin: Beast. Elite rebounder. Polished offensively. Not a shotblocker or much of a defender, even though he promises he’ll defend on the next level. Reminds me of David Lee in that he’ll take a punch, but will he give one? More talented than David Lee but I’m not sure I want the lane to be a freeway to the paint anymore.

4. James Harden: High basketball I.Q., patient, lets the game come to him, knows how to read the D to set up his O without forcing anything.

5. Jrue Holiday: Apparently a solid point guard who played out of position and thus didn’t get to show it off. But it’s clear that he can defend.

6. Jordan Hill: Reminds me of a big Balkman (and not because of the hair). He’s hyperactive, blocks shots, defends, and chases down rebounds. He has size at 6’10 so you can stick him at center where he can be a weakside defender a la Camby. Downside? Chris Wilcox (not because of the hair).

7. Hasheem Thabeet: Shotblocking skills are unquestionable. But what else? Doesn’t have great footwork and isn’t particularly nimble, so I don’t really ever see him becoming a threat on offense. Got pushed around and outrebounded easily by DuJuan Blair in college, who is about 8 inches shorter than Thabeet. Hey, at least Chad Ford notes that he can hit a 10-15 foot jumper…in an empty gym.

8. Johnny Flynn: Great leader, super fast, great passer, intense, a winner.

Ish List:

1. Tyreke Evans: Just what the Knicks need: another guard to pound the ball into the ground for 20 seconds and then bull his way into the paint or chuck up a desperation jumper. Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, I’m looking in your general direction. Poor shooter, not a willing passer. Doesn’t fit into SSOL.

2. Brandon Jennings: Risk/reward just isn’t there, especially with more solid options like Curry, Lawson, Flynn, Maynor, and Calathes. He goes to Europe because he can’t get into college (we need a smart player at PG), and can’t get off the bench, doesn’t seem to have one particularly useful skill that he’s shown in game action, and might get cut from his team for a back-up power forward. You might say, he’s 19 and playing in Europe against top competition, cut him some slack! Yea? Well Gallo was playing against equally tough competition and was a top player on his team. Same with Rubio. Maybe Jennings will be a good pro, but I’d prefer some other team gamble on him.

3. Gerald Henderson: Fancy Shandon Anderson? No thanks. He can defend and he’s athletic but he couldn’t hit the side of a barn with his J. Tell me how that fits into SSOL?

Knicks FanBlog Sweet 16

We won’t be doing any mock drafts in this space until Tuesday evening following the results of the lottery but, in the meantime, here’s our ranking of the top 16 prospects that are eligible for this year’s draft. This list is simply based on our own impressions and opinions of these players (although names are linked to their profiles at DraftExpress.com). We’re not trying to present some sort of consensus of how these prospects are viewed by the draft experts. Without further ado:

  1. Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
  2. Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut
  3. James Harden, SG, Arizona State
  4. Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
  5. Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
  6. DuJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
  7. Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
  8. Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA
  9. Earl Clark, F, Louisville
  10. Demar DeRozan, G/F, USC
  11. Terence Williams, G/F. Louisville
  12. Brandon Jennings, PG, Virtus Roma
  13. Nick Calathes, G, Florida
  14. Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
  15. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
  16. Jonny Flynn PG, Syracuse
  • We imagine the first two aren’t very controversial but it did take us a few minutes to decide between Rubio and Griffin for the top spot. In the end, after some discussion, we decided that a big man with Griffin’s athleticism and ability is just too valuable a commodity to pass on in that first spot. But we’re both big believers in Rubio and Griffin has some limitations that make him less than a cornerstone player (you can read about that here).
  • We also struggled with where to slot Thabeet. A player with his size and athleticism has a pretty big built-in upside but he has big-time bust potential as well. In the end, though, we think his ceiling is probably something like Sam Dalembert or Joel Pryzbilla and just couldn’t justify putting him any higher than 7th.
  • You’ll notice how guard heavy this list is. This draft is almost completely devoid of capable big men. A good argument could be made for James Johnson of Wake Forest as a top 16 prospect (he was one of the last cuts), but we like the guards better.
  • And, considering how guard heavy the list is, we know that some will think we’re crazy for leaving Tyreke Evans off our list. But we are not Evans supporters at this blog. Evans is the type of player who would have thrived with Isiah’s no accountability, chuck-and-duck version of the Knicks. Yes, we know he won a whole bunch of games in a row with Memphis in Conference USA. He’ll be a fine pick for the Warriors or any other team that values guards who pound the ball into the ground for 20 seconds and then force up contested shots.
  • It should also be noted that Dan has serious reservations about Brandon Jennings and, if this wasn’t a collaboration, he might not even have him in his Top 16. In the end, though, he was sort of persuaded (but not really) that at 12, his upside justified the risk.
  • Originally the list was going to be a “fine 15″, but we couldn’t decide between Lawson or Flynn so we just expanded it to 16 players. Those two, while very different types of PGs, were difficult to distinguish between for the purpose of this list.

Of course, we welcome debate.

Sweet 16 Games to Watch

Hi all. The Sweet 16 sure sneaked up fast. Very excited about the matchups this weekend and, as an aside, how good has this tournament been so far? It may not be the strongest draft in NBA history but there’s obviously a lot of parity in college basketball this year, and that’s made for a lot of quality tournament games. And the Sweet 16 appears poised to be even better.  As such, I’ve got three featured matchups this round instead of two. So, without further ado, here are the games/matchups that I think the Knicks ought to be watching today and tomorrow (as always, links are to DraftExpress):

Today, Purdue/Connecticut: As far as scouting the NBA draft is concerned, tomorrow offers a better slate of games than tonight does. As I’ve mentioned in this space before, I have a hard time getting too excited about Tyreke Evans, and I’m not a big Gerald Henderson guy either. (Does Henderson remind anyone else of a smoother, better shooting Shandon Anderson? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but here’s hoping the Knicks don’t spend their lottery pick on a shinier version of  Shandon Anderson.)

The one game I see that offers a potentially intriguing matchup is the big man battle between Purdue and UConn. I think everyone knows Hasheem Thabeet so I won’t spend time breaking him down, but tonight, he’s facing off against Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, a 6’10, but rail-thin, 4/5  with a skill set that brings to mind Rasheed Wallace.  Johnson has some decent post moves and he has a really nice touch out to 18 feet on a tough-to-block jumper he releases from high above his head. He’s also a very good shot-blocker.  But he is painfully thin and, if Thabeet is truly worthy of his  lofty Top 5 status, you would think he should absolutely abuse Johnson tonight on the blocks. If he can’t (or just doesn’t) push Johnson around to get pretty much whatever he wants, people should worry.

And that’s not to assail Johnson as a prospect. He has really nice talent (though he may be a year away) but Thabeet should be an impossible matchup for him. We’ll find out if he is.

Tomorrow, Syracuse/Oklahoma: Of course, everyone knows Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin and we’ve already broken down Willie Warren pretty extensively in a prior post. Tomorrow night, we’ll get to see how Griffin fares against Syracuse’s pretty effective 2-3 zone that’s sure to try to pack it in tight and force Griffin’s teammates to win the game. That’s where Warren comes in. In the second round against Michigan (tear), Griffin could not be stopped. Warren recognized that, stepped back, and allowed his teammate to carry the Sooners to victory (while chipping in very nicely). Tomorrow night, if Syracuse executes its game plan, Warren’s going to have to get much more aggressive and make some big plays against Syracuse’s excellent backcourt.

Syracuse boasts Jonny Flynn, a PG I like more and more each time I see him. I don’t think he has other worldly court vision and instincts and he’s a little bit undersized. But Flynn sees the floor pretty well,  makes good decisions, controls the pace of play, has a sick handle and he’s a great athlete and strong as an ox. He may not be Chris Paul, but he is unquestionably a PG and a born leader. This is a tough matchup for Syracuse as, on paper, they really don’t have anyone on the roster that can check Griffin. If the Orange win this game, Flynn’s likely to be the main reason why, and this game alone could give his draft stock a nice boost.

Gonzaga/North Carolina: This game features some players that draftniks have been touting for quite a while: Tarheels Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson and Austin Daye of Gonzaga. But tomorrow, I’ll be focusing more on a couple of guards that have stepped it up in recent weeks: Wayne Ellington and Matt Bouldin.

Ellington has been around for a while and has developed a reputation as a pretty one dimensional, but lights out shooter. Lately, though, he’s become much more varied in his scoring seeking to compliment his jump-shooting with a more aggressive game off the bounce. Some have believed that Ellington had this within him for a quite a while, but for whatever reason, it took him until his junior year to show it.  North Carolina wings do have some history of entering the NBA draft as underrated prospects (see Carter, Vince and Jordan, Air) and I’m interested to see if Ellington is another example of a 2 guard at UNC who’s talent has perhaps been obscured by some of his more widely-acclaimed teammates (though he’s nowhere near the player those guys were).

Gonzaga’s Bouldin is a 6’5 G who can do a lot of things. He has the handle and court vision to run point very effectively and he’s also a pretty lethal shooter from all over the court (50% FG, 44% 3FG). He’s had a terrific year for the Bulldogs (finally emerging as the kind of threat they expected him to be when he arrived 3 years ago) and he’s also been strong in the tournament thus far.  This draft boasts a lot of multi-talented guards that could be good fits with the Knicks should they acquire an extra pick later on the first round and Bouldin is another example of that.

Also, speaking of nice wings with varied skill sets, if you’ve never seen him, keep an eye on Manhasset’s own Danny Green. I profiled him here a while back and remain high on him. He’s Carolina’s glue and I think Green will be able reprise that role at the next level.

Walsh Eyes Anchor

Landing Lebron is all well and good (ok, so that may be a bit of an understatement) but when it comes to choosing which second superstar to spend the rest of his 2010 scratch on, Donnie Walsh might be thinking big.

After the New York Post reported Dwyane Wade’s comments from over the weekend where he entertained the possibility of pairing up with Lebron in New York, several outlets shot the idea down explaining that Walsh considers a versatile, defensive minded big man to be the key piece that anchors any true championship contender. The dissenting chorus therefore speculates that Walsh will spend the rest of his money on a big.

I don’t think we should ever be overly dismissive of the idea that Walsh would sign Lebron and Wade together simply because it goes against some of his conventional wisdom. After all, I think he’d probably make an exception if he was given the chance to secure two of the three best players in the world. Also, Walsh might be able to acquire a big man that fills the need without paying him a max contract. So getting a big man anchor doesn’t have to be the exclusion of Wade or some other perimeter star from the 2010 free agent class (Joe Johnson, for instance).

But whichever side you think is right, the takeaway should be the same. It’s here in this quote from Walsh:

“[Y]ou have to have a big guy who can do the real important things. Scoring, maybe. To me, it’s more about rebounding and blocking shots and providing the intimidation inside. You need those things to contend.”

So regardless of whether Donnie gets his anchor in free agency (Bosh? Tyson Chandler?) or by acquiring one in a trade (Joakim Noah perhaps?) or by selecting one in the draft (Hasheem Thabeet?), now we all know that a defensive big who rebounds, blocks shots and controls the paint is a non-negotiable part of The Blueprint.