The case for and against Knicks picking Kira Lewis Jr. in the 2020 NBA Draft

Alex Smith
·3 min read
Alabama PG Kira Lewis Jr.
Alabama PG Kira Lewis Jr.

While the Knicks had hopes of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, they currently find themselves in possession of the eighth pick. 

The team could always try to trade up, or maybe even acquire assets while trading back. And while staying pat at No. 8 may be the least exciting move, the Knicks could still land a talented player in that spot. 

So let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of potential draft options for the Knicks, whether it's through moving up or staying in the eighth spot, continuing with Iowa State point guard Kira Lewis Jr.

The case for drafting Lewis

When the Knicks ended up with the eighth overall pick, that all but cemented that a top scoring point guard option like LaMelo Ball wasn’t going to be in the cards. But the Knicks will have point guard options at No. 8, and Lewis might just have the most upside.

Scoring almost seems effortless for Lewis, who increased his per-game average from 13.5 as a freshman to 18.5 as a sophomore. Quickness is the name of the game for Lewis, who has the ability to blow by defenders with his first step and get to the basket. But he’s also been a good spot up shooter, knocking down 36.2 percent of his three-point attempts, which is a quality the Knicks are desperately lacking from their guards.

And even as his scoring increased from year to year at Alabama, so did his assist numbers, jumping from 2.9 to 5.2. Combine that with the fact that Lewis is a willing rebounder (4.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore), and the 6-foot-3 point guard has all the tools to fill out the stat sheet day in and day out.

Quite simply, the Knicks need an athletic, do-it-all point guard. Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. each have parts of their games in which they excel, but they haven’t shown that they can be complete players on a nightly basis. The Knicks have a young low-post option who has potential through the roof in Mitchell Robinson, and a young wing in RJ Barrett who could be a rock-steady two-way player for a long time, but they need a guard to run their offense.

Rather than trading extra assets to move up for a guard, the Knicks could have a perfectly good option available to them with the eighth pick in Lewis, who could energize the offense and grow into the scoring point guard the team has been looking to add for quite some time.

The case against drafting Lewis

With all that said, the 19-year-old has areas of his game he must work on. For instance, at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, he doesn't have the frame to sustain a lot of contact in the NBA. Sure, smaller, quicker guards like Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox do come along, but even Fox is listed at 185 pounds. Lewis must get stronger to finish around the rim as a pro. 

Another area of Lewis' game with room for improvement is his ability to create his own jump shot. While he seems to have an innate ability to get to the rim and he's a good knock-down shooter in catch-and-shoot situations, he's not the strongest in his iso game on the perimeter.

Defense could also be an issue at he NBA level for Lewis, given his lack of size. Taller, tougher guards could take advantage of Lewis until he gets stronger.  

Turnovers could also be an issue, and that is certainly a part of of his game to keep an eye on. Lewis turned the ball over 3.5 times per game as a sophomore, a jump from his 2.2 turnovers as a freshman. The ball was in his hands more, and he unfortunately turned the ball over at a higher clip.