CHICAGO — With scouts scattered through Wintrust Arena Wednesday as draft prospects were put through the usual paces — measurements and drills, testing speed and agility, vertical jump and shooting — Knicks assistant general. manager in charge of college scouting Walt Perrin took a seat in the front row of the arena.
With Perrin watching from his seat and assistant coach Darren Erman on the court serving as one of the coaches for the NBA Draft Combine the Knicks had eyes closely trained on the prospects with a slightly better idea of where they will be picking in the draft next month. The Knicks remained in place in Tuesday’s Draft Lottery, sticking at No. 11 in the first round, and they have their own pick in the second round, No. 42 overall.
But we say a slightly better idea because in their first two years running the front office Knicks team president Leon Rose and his staff have been active, shuttling back and forth, moving up and back in the draft and adding additional picks for the future. And with eight players in their rotation right now 24-years-old or younger there is little room for playing time and on-court development for more young players.
If the Knicks hold onto the 11th pick they now have a clearer picture of who will be available to them with a consensus top four of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey with Shaedon Sharpe, AJ Griffin and Keegan Murray sliding up into the back end of that range according to some draft experts.
So that leaves an interesting group for the Knicks to choose from and decisions still to be made for them if they just grab the best available player at this point and try to accumulate talent or they draft for need. And even if they draft for need they may not be certain yet what the need is with questions remaining unresolved so far.
Will they bring back unrestricted free-agent center Mitchell Robinson? If not that opens the door for centers Jalen Duren of Memphis and Mark Williams of Duke. Williams had the longest wingspan at 7-foot-6.5 inches of any player measured. Are they seeking a point guard? That would lean them toward G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels, who had an impressive showing of athleticism in the speed and agility drills. Not a pure point guard, he does have advanced passing ability. In the mix there would also be Johnny Davis of Wisconsin (more of a scoring guard) and TyTy Washington of Kentucky.
There are other interesting prospects who have size and athleticism like Ousmane Dieng, a 6--10 wing from New Zealand who improved dramatically through his season playing professionally at 18 years old. Bennedict Mathurin is a multilevel scorer who excelled for Arizona as a shooter in each of his two college seasons.
Notes & quotes: Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler had the highest max vertical jump at 41.5 inches and also was second in the shuttle run, finishing only behind Daniels.