New York Knicks: Trading down may be their only way up

NBA Draft

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With the 8th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks have many options. Of those, the best option may be trading down in the first round.

Much has been written about the New York Knicks‘ inability to sign a max free agent this offseason. This fact makes the upcoming NBA Draft that much more significant. Having the eighth pick in the draft isn’t a horrible position and some notable NBA players were taken in that slot.

Tom Chambers, Andre Miller, Jamal Crawford and Ron Harper were all taken eighth overall.

However, many high quality NBA players were also taken deeper in the draft, 10 slots away. For example Joe Dumars, Mark Jackson, David West and Eric Bledsoe were all available at the 18th pick.

These examples prove that the Knicks should at least consider trading down in the NBA Draft, not up.

James Dolan loves for the Knicks to be in headlines. Since they aren’t in the playoff headlines, he is surely itching for some NBA Draft drama. Trading the eighth pick may be a risky proposition, but as Wall Street knows: great risk can mean great reward.

Once the big names start coming off the draft board, the Knicks will be in prime position to take advantage of overzealous teams needing to make a splash.

NBA Draft

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Jackson likes Jackson

Obviously, the Knicks have many needs and a new point guard may be primary. Whether Phil Jackson can get his point guard in this draft isn’t much of a question. There will be talented young guards throughout the Draft and many will be solid NBA players.

What isn’t always available in the NBA Draft is an experienced player who still has upside. This experience and potential is why the Knicks may be looking very close at Justin Jackson.

Chris Roling of Bleacher Report believes the Knicks are more likely to use their second-round picks and a bench player to sneak into the back of the draft:

As the writeup goes on to note, the Knicks grabbing Jackson would mean some sort of trade. It’s hard to imagine a trade down, so perhaps the Knicks look to flip assets and get back into the first round.

Use Your Imagination

Roling may have a hard time imagining the Knicks trading down from the eighth spot, but in New York anything is possible. Plus, after Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox the point guard talent in the draft goes down a few notches.

Phil Jackson has two years to repair his legacy and a trade down could make strides in that effort.

Conventional wisdom says a team with multiple second-round picks and bench players would trade those assets for a late first-round pick. That same wisdom would also say a team president wouldn’t trash his best player in the media for an entire season, but Phil Jackson did just that.

Similarly, it isn’t a stretch to think Phil would trade out of the eighth slot if it meant getting Justin Jackson and other assets for the trade deadline.

NBA Draft

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Pointing to a Guard

Drafting Justin Jackson would provide immediate scoring and the kind of long arms that disrupt passing lanes. Jackson guarded Malik Monk, an elite scorer, most of their Elite Eight battle and more than held his own.

Once Carmelo Anthony is gone, Jackson will fit perfectly in the small forward position and could even provide matchup issues as a tall shooting guard.

Currently, DraftExpress has Jackson going in the 14th slot to the Miami Heat. The Knicks could conceivably trade down a few slots and still use their remaining draft and bench assets to secure a late first-round pick.

Draft night for teams outside the top five is like dancing on razor blade: one wrong move and there will be blood. If the Knicks can master this NBA Draft dance, they may find their point guard late in the first round.

Getting Jackson and still landing a first-round point guard isn’t out of the question. Jawun Evans is expected to go late in the first-round and was an assist machine for Oklahoma State. There are questions for Evans and his ceiling may be the roof, but he will be a solid NBA guard.

He may not provide the upside and scoring of Jackson, but both together could be two major draft steals.

NBA Draft

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Anyone’s Guess

No one really knows what goes on in the mind of Phil Jackson … ever. Yet, if he decides he wants to trade down from the eighth pick and trade up from the second round, both are possible. For a team that needs an overhaul, multiple first-round picks the next two drafts would be wonderful.

Furthermore, in the triangle offense both guards are active off the ball while a skilled wing player acts as the “point guard.”  In other words, the Knicks’ need to draft a star point guard may be an overstatement of the fact.

Multiple picks in next year’s draft are very possible if a Carmelo Anthony trade is ever completed. For this year, the Knicks could be featured in multiple draft night trades. If the Knicks want Justin Jackson, they can get him later than the eighth pick.

Furthermore, deeper teams could find the Knicks’ second-round picks attractive to long-term team building. If the Knicks can get two picks in between the 15th and 20th slots, this will be an A+ draft.

With the eighth pick in the NBA Draft, the Knicks are in a precarious position: too far down in the draft to get one of the elite point guards and too high in the draft to take Justin Jackson. An unconventional trade down from their first pick may be their only way up.

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