New York Knicks Have Plenty of Options with the 4th Pick in the NBA Draft

New York Knicks Have Plenty of Options with the 4th Pick in the NBA Draft

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

You know to approach the NBA draft lottery with caution. You understand the pingpong balls can be cruel. You've seen fate work against countless other franchises. But when you think about the prospect of your team landing the first or even the second overall pick, one can't help but get excited.

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So when the New York Knicks came away with the fourth overall pick in the draft, it felt like a gut punch. The lottery was supposed to deliver Patrick Ewing's heir apparent. Instead, potential cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will likely hear their names called before New York is on the clock.

However, the Knicks do have plenty of intriguing options with the fourth overall pick. Either D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay will be available. Here's how NBA draft expert Sam Vecenie describes Russell: "He fits exactly what the Sixers need to a T. He's a great pick-and-roll guard that will help their big men Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid develop offensively. Also, he's a great shooter that will help the floor-spacing starved roster."

If you watched Ohio State this year, you know that Vecenie's report is right on the mark. Russell is a gifted offensive player who can take defenders off the dribble and make them pay with his jump shot. According to, in his lone collegiate season, the lefty averaged 19.3 points, 5.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game and shot 41 percent from three-point range.

If Vecenie is right, Russell will be off the board as well by the time New York is picking. That prospect should have Knicks fans studying up on the lesser-known Mudiay, who chose to circumvent the NCAA, passing on the chance to play for Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University and instead playing for pay and against better competition as a member of the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

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The video above gives you a glimpse of how versatile Mudiay is as a point guard. He has the quickness, athleticism and ball-handling skills to shoot the gaps and get to the basket.

This is most evident when watching him operate in the pick-and-roll, where he is deft at creating for both himself and his teammates. At 6'5," he is able to see over the top of defenses, allowing him to make passes other guards can't. He is also comfortable using his size in the post, where he can take advantage of smaller defenders.

However, as Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman points out, there are also plenty of concerns about Mudiay's game:

On the downside, there are questions concerning his jumper and decision-making. He was never considered a good shooter in high school, and after shooting 13-of-38 from downtown and making 27 of 47 free throws in China, he doesn't appear to have made many strides. He also turned the ball over 3.3 times a game overseas.

Mudiay may be the best player available when it is time for New York to make its selection, but he is not a great fit for the triangle offense, where the point guard's role is downplayed and having a perimeter player who struggles shooting from the outside is a major hindrance.

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If the Knicks wanted to, they could reach for a player such as Willie Cauley-Stein, who isn't a top-five prospect but does have immense upside as a defender. In a league that craves versatility, the 7'0" center doesn't just protect the rim but also possesses a blend of size and athleticism that allows him to defend all five positions on the court, at least in spurts.

If this is the player New York sets its sights on, it could probably even trade back a few spots in order to collect one or two assets while still getting its target.

As the draft process plays out, the Knicks could also determine that a player such as Justice Winslow is their best option. When coach Mike Krzyzewski moved him up to the 4, it opened up the floor for him and his teammates, and his stock began to soar.

Winslow was an intricate part of the Duke Blue Devils' run to the national championship, averaging 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament, per He was also the team's best perimeter defender.

So you see, Knicks fans, it isn't all bad. As much as it hurts knowing that you'll likely miss out on the top two prospects in the draft, Towns and Okafor, there's still an impact player to be had. There's also the return of Carmelo Anthony, plus New York has plenty of cap space to help improve the team in free agency and plays in the Eastern Conference—where, as Kevin Garnett said, anything is possible.

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