Another year, another night of 60 incredibly talented basketball players watching their dreams manifest on stage.
The Knicks were an active participant in this year’s NBA Draft, making a number of smaller moves in preparation of their larger plans this offseason and beyond.
Here are the grades for every trade and pick New York made...
Pick 19 - Traded to Charlotte for protected future first: C
With no clear trade-up options available, it seems Leon Rose went the opposite direction instead, trading out of the first round to have a little more cap flexibility. This makes sense, with a first-round pick’s contract fully guaranteed but not a second-rounder’s. However, this trade falls short of netting the Knicks fair value.
The protections on the Hornets pick essentially make it so it won’t be of use until they make the Playoffs, in which case the first will likely fall in the range the Knicks were originally working with. If the Hornets stay in the lottery the Knicks end up with two second-round picks.
Again, this trade served to push New York’s asset pile and financial commitments further ahead -- a reasonable move. Not doing more with the 19th pick is a bit underwhelming, especially if you’re essentially just hoping you get a similar pick back at some point in the next five years. This trade was originally a D+ for that reason.
However, that’s not entirely fair. There clearly weren’t any enticing prospects or great trades open to the Knicks at their spot, despite their best efforts. Later moves provided much more optimism, but this one in a vacuum is a hard “meh.”
Pick 21 - Traded to the Clippers for 25 and a future second, take Quentin Grimes: B+
The Knicks obviously felt they could get their man four slots down, and were happy to take on a future second-round pick to prove it. Thus this grade falls in the hands of one man: Quentin Grimes.
Who is Grimes? A 6’5”, 205-pound wing with a 6’8” wingspan, knockdown shooter and annoying defender. He’s your Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks insurance and upside 3-and-D prospect. His stroke is pure, off the dribble or on the catch-and-shoot. His length and activity defensively make him a pest on that end, sure to please Tom Thibodeau.
There’s a bit more to Grimes’ game. He’s a great transition finisher and rebounder as well -- dynamic skills that help differentiate him from your run-of-the-mill guy who stands in a corner. All in all, he’s a well-regarded value pick who fills a need, and Knicks fans should be pumped to have him on board.
Pick 32 - Traded to Oklahoma City for picks 34 and 36, take Rokas Jokubaitis and Miles McBride: A
The Knicks managed to turn one early second-round pick into two, and used them on a couple of intriguing guards, a position of need. Jokubaitis may not come over and play in the NBA right away, while McBride is known as a guy who can come in and compete immediately, allowing New York to maximize both their short-term and long-term returns.
Jokubaitis is not a name many Knicks fans knew prior to Thursday night, but the 6’4” 20-year-old is a fun pickup at point guard. His southpaw pick-and-roll game is eerily reminiscent of Goran Dragic’s, though without a lot of the advanced change-of-speed moves. He’s very much a triple-threat creator with a great feel and vision for the game as a floor general. If he can boost his athleticism and defense he could be a serious rotation guy.
McBride is set to come in and defend the bejesus out of anybody Thibs puts in front of him. His 6’8” wingspan potentially makes him an impact defender from day one, and if the shot translates as it should he’ll provide spacing from the guard spot as well. We’ve covered his fit with the Knicks in more detail here.
Pick 58 - Take Jericho Sims: B
If the Knicks can get anything out of the 58th pick, it’s a win. There was a lot of talk about Isaiah Jackson coming to New York as a center prospect they could develop off the pine, but instead New York waited until the very end of the draft to take a stab at Sims.
Sims is a versatile and smart defender, able to switch out with guards or protect the rim in space. He’s a freak athlete, 6’10” and 250 pounds with a 7’4” wingspan and the second-highest max vertical in Draft Combine history. He’ll have to develop many of the finer points of his game, but at the very least Sims will put on a show at Vegas Summer League.
Overall grade: B+
Until we see these prospects in NBA action, it’s hard to pin this Knicks draft down as anything other than a success. Could there have been bigger gambles, bigger moves to better put the Knicks in a position to win more games? Maybe.
However, they turned four picks -- 19, 21, 32, and 58 -- into four prospects, ditching one guaranteed contract and picking up an extra first and second round pick on the way. That’s being creative with what you were given, and another night of evidence that this front office is the best the franchise has seen in a long time.