While restricted free agents Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields are near-locks to return next season, the Knicks would like to find a short-term replacement for shooting guard Iman Shumpert (out until December/January) and a long-term one for point guard Baron Davis.
Even with the 48th pick, the draft is deep enough for the Knicks to find quality like they did in back-to-back years: Fields and Josh Harrellson. Both players made an immediate impact; in fact, Fields started opening night in 2010. And let's not forget Lin wasn't even drafted in '10.
With my colleague Ryan Feldman, an ESPN Stats & Info college hoops researcher and co-founder of The Hoops Report, I've pinpointed five shooting guards and five point guards the Knicks could pick at No. 48 (for offense and defense).
First, for shooting guards:
1. William Buford (Ohio State) -- Buford's four years in college paid off, as he became a smarter player over time. He's very active moving without the ball -- something the Knicks need more of -- and knows how to come off screens to hit mid-range jumpshots, as well as attack and finish with creativity and strength (he's 6-6, 220). He's also active on defense and jumps out on passing lanes well. Where he has to improve is 3-point consistency (he went from 44.2 percent as a junior to 35.8 last year) and creating for himself better off the triple threat.
2. Jared Cunningham (Oregon State) -- While Cunningham is a bit undersized (6-4, 194), he makes his presence felt on both ends. He knows how to maneuver around pick-and-rolls and use his speed to get into the lane, where he's athletic enough to finish. But he sometimes drives too quickly and is not balanced, thereby prone to offensive fouls. He needs to learn how to pull-up and stop-and-go more. On defense, he's a ball hawk and doesn't give up if he gets beat, and he'll even make blocks in transition. He's fearless and has a winning attitude.
3. Kim English (Missouri) -- Some of the recent mock drafts have the Knicks selecting English (6-6, 200), mostly because the team needs 3-point shooters and he's deadly in that department. After shooting 36.6 percent from downtown in 2011, he improved to 45.9 percent as a senior -- one of the best marks in the country. He's money in catch-and-shoot situations, especially because he doesn't drop the ball below his waist during his quick setup (Ray Allen-esque). With his high basketball IQ and intense D, he'll be a solid role player on an NBA team.
4. Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) -- Johnson-Odom is the most undersized out of this bunch at 6-2, but he makes up for this with his tenacity and strength (215 pounds). At the Brooklyn Nets' draft combine two weeks ago, he was the best perimeter defender. He was the loudest one, calling out screens and back picks, and aggressively getting up on guys and causing turnovers. He has some Shumpert DNA. Offensively, he can stroke it from deep and score in the paint with creative playmaking, including NBA-like stop-on-the-dime moves.
5. Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic) -- Satoransky (6-7, 210) could be the second player from the Czech Republic drafted in the first round in consecutive years. (In 2011, it was Jan Vesely.) But it's likely Satoransky will slip into the second because he lacks some off-guard skills. He's mostly played the one and has excelled with his passing, but he hasn't showed enough scoring abilities. However, he's athletic, can catch and shoot, and is active on the offensive glass. Defensively, he's an asset because he can guard multiple positions.
Stay tuned on Tuesday for a look at point guard prospects.
For a look at small forwards, click here.
For a look at power forwards, click here.
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