With the NBA Draft less than a month away, we're taking a look at how potential lottery picks fit with the New York Knicks. Forward Justise Winslow is one player who may be on the board for New York, which has the fourth pick.
Below is a look at how Winslow could impact the Knicks:
How will Winslow fit the triangle?
Winslow is a strong passer and cutter. As such, scouts believe he’ll be a good fit for the Knicks’ offense.
“He‘s versatile forward with good size and strength,” ESPN NBA Draft Insider Fran Fraschilla says. “He’d be good in the pinch post area; he’d be great cutting off a post action. He’s also a good ball handler for a forward.”
All of those attributes fit Phil Jackson’s signature offense, which emphasizes cutting and the ability to make quick reads with the ball based on the defense’s positioning.
The reviews for Winslow are less certain when it comes to shooting.
He knocked down 41 percent of his 3-point attempts at Duke as a freshman, but some observers, such as Fraschilla, wonder how well his shot translates to the NBA. Part of this is due to his low free-throw percentage (64 percent). Winslow will be 19 in his rookie season, though, so it’s logical to think that he can improve in his area under the Knicks’ coaching staff.
Wally Szczerbiak, a Knicks analyst on MSG and a CBS Sports Network college basketball analyst, sees Winslow’s positional versatility as a plus for the Knicks.
“I think he’s a Lamar Odom type. He’s not as big but he can play the 3, he can possibly swing out to the 2 in the NBA,” Szczerbiak says.
That positional versatility leads to our next question …
How can he complement Carmelo?
If Winslow plays small forward for the Knicks, that could shift Carmelo Anthony to power forward. As we noted last week, the Knicks have been a better team with Anthony at power forward in recent seasons.
Last season, they outscored opponents by 5.7 points per 48 minutes when Anthony played power forward, per 82games.com. Conversely, they were outscored by 7.2 points per 48 minutes with Anthony at small forward in 2014-15.
Winslow’s presence can also help Anthony on defense. He's 6-6 1/2 with a 6-10 wingspan and a chiseled 225-pound frame, so he can guard the opponent’s small forward. That would allow Anthony to guard the opposing power forward.
The defensive alignment with Anthony at power forward accounted for some of the point differential mentioned above. This would save Anthony from having to chase small forwards around the perimeter.
Winslow can benefit from Anthony as well.
He showed in college that he can exploit a defense when a teammate is double-teammed.
“He was a key when they started double-teamming [Jahlil] Okafor [at Duke],” Szczerbiak says. “He was the roamer, got a lot of shots, cut to the basket, got a lot of passes and offensive rebounds.”
If Winslow can establish the same symbiotic relationship with Anthony, the young forward could be a value piece for the Knicks.
Scouts also see Winslow as a high-IQ player and a tireless worker. He’s won titles while playing against his age group for Team USA. He also won a national title in college. Those are intangible attributes that could appeal to Anthony and Jackson.
What will he bring on defense?
Most observers believe Winslow will earn his playing time in 2015-16 on the defensive end, where he does some of his best work.
“He’s a guy that can defend two positions and he rebounds outside of his area,” says Ryan Blake, the senior scouting consultant for the NBA. “There’s going to be a learning curve. He’s coming up as a freshman and he’s going to be finding quicker, stronger players. But he’s got the potential to be a good wing defender.”
Scouts project Winslow as a player who is strong enough to fight through screens on pick-and-rolls and versatile enough to switch onto a quicker player on such plays.
This would benefit New York, which ranked 25th in the NBA defending the pick-and-roll ball handler, per Synergy Sports.
Winslow should also be able to rebound well at the next level; he pulled down nine rebounds per 40 minutes at Duke to go along with 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals.
The Knicks, of course, need all the help they can get on defense and on the boards. They finished 28th in defensive efficiency and 28th in rebound rate, which measures the percentage of missed shots a team rebounds.
Given those poor numbers, it’s not hard to see why the Knicks, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, are “big fans” of Winslow’s.
“Winslow is a versatile player, he’s a share-the-wealth guy,” Blake says. “He passes the ball well, he can be that DeMarre Carroll-guy in the triangle for them. I think he could fit well in New York.”