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3 perfect first-round pick combos for Knicks in 2024 NBA Draft

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The New York Knicks are easily the most frustrating and galling team in the sport of basketball, but damn, it’s hard not to respect them for it. The Knicks are branded as a tough-as-nails, defense-first group under Tom Thibodeau. That’s a fair label. New York also grifts religiously — lookin’ at you, Jalen Brunson — but it takes extreme stamina to grift and put your body in harm’s way for 48 minutes every night. The Knicks’ effort level and willingness to do the dirty work, sometimes a little too literally, is unparalleled.

We pretty much know what the Knicks are looking for in the 2024 NBA Draft. Equipped with back-to-back selections (24 and 25), New York has the rare opportunity to add two cost-controlled contributors to a title contender. As the new CBA takes full effect, big-spending teams will face steeper restrictions than ever before. Nailing draft picks and developing contributors on rookie contracts is what will separate the good teams from the great teams moving forward.

There is plenty of buzz about New York trading one or both picks, but hey, let’s just say two first-round picks is better than one, which is better than none. If there isn’t a needle-moving rotation piece available to New York, the Knicks might as well try their luck in the draft. This is a weak class, sure, but there should be NBA players available in their range.

Leon Rose’s draft history is mixed at best, but we all love Deuce McBride. The Knicks just need two more Deuce McBrides here.

Let’s dive into the best (realistic) outcomes for New York’s two first-round picks.

Kyshawn George quickly went from NBA Draft afterthought to potential first-round pick with an enticing freshman campaign at Miami. He didn’t receive the consistent minutes or reps of others in this range, so New York would be taking a bit of a flier, but the Knicks can afford to swing for upside with two first-round picks.

On the surface, George is the ultra-modern wing New York presently lacks. He’s 6-foot-8 with sharp defensive instincts, a competitive drive that Thibs can appreciate, and real point guard chops. Miami let George work pick-and-rolls, push the tempo in transition, and create for teammates. He needs to add strength and work on his burst, but George throws some true lasers and his playmaking instincts are promising for a frosh.

The Knicks are always in the market for more shooters that can defend. George hit 40.8 percent of his 3s last season, averaging a healthy 4.2 attempts in 20.3 minutes per game. Equipped with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, he can guard across positions and generate havoc in passing lanes. The 3-and-D floor is just as appealing as George’s potential to develop into another playmaking valve for New York.

As for Jonathan Mogbo, he’s a slightly less conventional inclusion in this conversation. Most projections slot Mogbo as a mid-to-late second round pick, assuming he even decides to stay in the draft. He could return to San Francisco for another season, but if Mogbo keeps his name in, he deserves New York’s consideration. He impressed in the first day of Combine scrimmages, which could lead to a spike in appreciation as Mogbo’s pre-draft process ramps up.

He’s not your standard backup center on paper, listed at 6-foot-6 without shoes and 217 pounds. What offsets the height concerns are Mogbo’s long arms (7-foot-2 wingspan), as well as his hellacious approach to defense. The dude can get vertical and he competes hard in the post, working to overcome his lack of height with well-timed leaps and a highly disciplined approach.

Mogbo is one of the smartest bigs on the board. He offers intriguing passing chops at the five spot, expertly playing angles and scanning the floor as a short-roll passer or post-up threat. His finishing success is remarkable for such a small “big,” but Mogbo’s quickness, touch, and explosiveness make up for a lot. He’s going to be a player at the next level. If the Knicks are comfortable thinking outside the box, Mogbo would be a great fit as Isaiah Hartenstein hits free agency.

The Knicks need to address the backup center spot. Isaiah Hartenstein has effectively priced himself out of New York and Mitchell Robinson’s health is a constant battle. There’s a fairly real chance that Baylor freshman Yves Missi falls into the Knicks’ lap. He’s a bona fide lottery candidate on my board, but the market for true centers on draft night can be slim. Missi doesn’t shoot 3s or offer much offensive value outside the paint, which is going to limit his appeal to certain teams.

New York would be thrilled to land him. Missi is a nuclear athlete, fresh off breaking the Combine with his vertical leap and agility testing. It’s rare to find 7-footers who move as fluidly and quickly as Missi. He covers a ton of ground on defense (1.5 blocks in 22.9 minutes) and has plenty of room to grow as his frame fills out and his fundamentals improve.

At 19 years old, Missi plays a hard-nosed brand of basketball that is easy to appreciate. The Knicks certainly will. He hustles nonstop and is unafraid to put his body on the line. That can get him into trouble sometimes — Missi picks up some bad fouls — but he’s young. The discipline comes with time and patience. Thibs has never been one to offer inexperienced players a long leash, but Missi’s effort level and athleticism could force Thibs’ hand.

The Knicks get a dominant shot-blocker who can switch screens and clean up all sorts of messes as the backstop. On offense, Missi is another lob target for Jalen Brunson with enough coordination on drives and post-ups to suggest long-term upside, even if the jumper is nonexistent right now.

As for Baylor Scheierman, some will view the first round as a reach. He’s a mediocre athlete by NBA standards, listed at 6-foot-6 with serious strength concerns (201 pounds) and limited mobility in space. Scheierman is a sharp team defender who processes the game at a high level, but offenses will seek him out on switches and try to get him guarding in space. That tends to go poorly for Scheierman and his team.

And yet, the Knicks have the defensive apparatus to effectively insulate Scheierman and help him play to his strengths on that end. The offensive fit is much more straightforward. Scheierman is a bombs-away shooter with deep range and endless confidence. He’s also a talented connector, making quick reads and whipping high-level passes on a regular basis. The Knicks could be looking for somebody to fill the Bojan Bogdanovic role next season. Look no further.

Devin Carter’s stock has been spiking for a while, and his remarkable Combine measurements — 6-foot-3 with a stupidly impressive 6-foot-9 wingspan — could put him out of New York’s reach. In this wacky draft, however, very little is set in stone. There’s still a very real chance that teams let Carter fall to New York. If it happens, those of us not initiated into the Knickerbockers cult should probably shed a tear, as this partnership will be equal parts irksome and beautiful.

There hasn’t been a prospect more tailor-made to Thibs and the Knicks in a minute. Maybe since Deuce. New York doesn’t really need another guard in the wake of McBride’s ascent, but Carter offers the defensive versatility and contagious work ethic necessary to carve out a role in the Knicks backcourt. He’s going to hammer the point of attack on defense, cause havoc in passing lanes (1.8 steals), phase out of the ether for weak-side contests (1.0 blocks), and put in work on the glass (8.7 rebounds).

Of course, the Knicks are going to target the outlier rebounding guard who plays his ass off defensively. It’s just… going to happen.

Carter’s offense is less polished, but he shoots deep 3s with a ton of confidence and has the burst to get downhill and create a little bit. He struggles against pressure and commits some ugly turnovers, but New York has enough playmaking between Brunson, McBride, and DiVincenzo to keep Carter in his optimal role.

As for DaRon Holmes, again, the Knicks should probably think about selecting their Hartenstein replacement here. The Dayton junior has been one of the top shot-blockers in college basketball from the beginning. He made All-Defense three years straight in the Atlantic 10 and won both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for the conference this season.

In addition to his rangy rim protection and impressive lateral mobility, Holmes was the Flyers’ primary offensive hub. He netted 38.6 percent of his 3s as a junior, flashed real passing chops (2.6 assists), and scored in a variety of ways around the basket. If the jumper is real, Holmes is going to feast as a pick-and-pop scorer and face-up threat next to Brunson in the New York offense. He’s a little bit on the older side at 21, but Holmes’ ceiling rivals several of his positional peers in this draft.

Holmes is another hard-wired competitor who fits the Knicks culture, and it’s hard to find centers who check so many boxes on both ends. If New York can pull off this particular haul, we might need to file a grievance with the NBA scriptwriters.

NBA Rumors. Mavs’ LeBron plan, Thibs-Knicks future, Hawks ‘wide net’ at No. 1. Mavs’ LeBron plan, Thibs-Knicks future, Hawks ‘wide net’ at No. 1. dark

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