Knicks 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Primer: Where they could pick and the likely impact

·7 min read
Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau treated image, side by side
Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau treated image, side by side

A few Knicks notes ahead of Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery…

LONG ODDS

The Knicks have a 9.4 percent chance of landing one of the top four picks in the 2022 NBA Draft. New York will find out where it falls Tuesday night, when the ping pong balls get pulled to determine the fate of many franchises around the league.

The Knicks finished the season at 37-45, which is the league’s 11th worst record. They have a 2.0 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick.

According to Tankathon.com, the Knicks have a 77.6 percent chance of remaining in 11th and a 12.6 percent chance to fall to 12th. New York also has a second-round pick at No. 42.

No matter where the Knicks land on Tuesday, recent history suggests they can find a solid player with their picks.

In the last two drafts under Leon Rose, the Knicks have selected Obi Toppin (No. 8 in 2020), Immanuel Quickley (No. 25 in 2020), Quentin Grimes (No. 25 in 2021), Rokas Jokubaitis (No. 34 in 2021), Miles McBride (No. 36 in 2021), and Jericho Sims (No. 58 in 2021).

I think it’s way too early to say anything definitive about the players listed above. But outside of Jokubaitis, who is overseas, it’s fair to say all of their picks have shown the potential to impact winning for a contending team.

Of course, the Knicks deserve scrutiny for missing on the gems of the 2020 draft, including Tyrese Haliburton, Tyrese Maxey, and Desmond Bane. But all teams miss in the draft. It’s an inexact science. The good teams just miss less often than the others.

It seems that the Knicks, under assistant GM Walt Perrin, have more hits than misses over the past two drafts.

This is why I don’t think the sky is falling for the Knicks right now. Yes, they took a step back in 2021-22.

Whose fault is it? Everyone’s, from Rose to the assistant video coordinator (no disrespect to the assistant video coordinators).

Julius Randle’s shooting regression, the poor fit between the trio of Randle, Kemba Walker, and Evan Fournier, the blown fourth-quarter leads – that’s on everyone.

But the Knicks have solid young players. And they have a strong draft record.

Historically, that’s one of the best ways to build a sustained contender. So, while last year was a mess, the Knicks seem to be in better shape today than they’ve been after most of their subpar seasons in the past two decades.

Feb 25, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates with forward Obi Toppin (1) after scoring against the Sacramento Kings in the first half at Madison Square Garden.
Feb 25, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates with forward Obi Toppin (1) after scoring against the Sacramento Kings in the first half at Madison Square Garden.

WHO WILL THEY PICK?

Let’s see where they end up first. Executive vice president and senior basketball advisor William Wesley will represent the club at the Lottery. Wesley, as former Knick Eddy Curry said recently, has a history of working behind the scenes. He hasn’t conducted any media interviews since joining the Knicks.

If New York wins the lottery, Knicks fans will probably construct a statue of Wesley outside of the Garden by 11 p.m. on Tuesday. As the Knicks representative in Chicago, Wesley would also be speaking to the media at length on Tuesday night.

If the Knicks stay at 11, various mock drafts have them taking Dyson Daniels, a 6-6 combo guard from the G League Elite (ESPN), Jeremy Sochan, a wing from Baylor (The Ringer), and Johnny Davis, a shooting guard from Wisconsin (Bleacher Report).

One question for the Knicks: Is there room for two more rookies on the roster? Eight potential rotation players in New York are 24 or younger. Adding two more rookies would give New York a very young roster. So it will be interesting to see how that factors in to whether the Knicks make the pick and pick for another team on draft night in a trade. They have made several draft night trades under Rose.

The No. 11 pick would certainly sweeten any trade offer they could make for a player like Utah’s Donovan Mitchell or Dallas’ Jalen Brunson.

CAA/KENTUCKY OVERSTATED?

When Rose took over in New York in February 2020, some media and fans assumed that the Knicks would be a soft landing spot for CAA players and Kentucky players. Rose is a former top player agent at CAA. He and Wesley have strong ties to Kentucky. This was seen as detrimental to the franchise.

The 2021 draft didn’t support that theory. Grimes played at Houston and is represented by ISE. McBride played at West Virginia and is represented by Priority Sports. Sims played at Texas and is represented by Klutch. Jokubaitis was the only CAA/Kentucky player selected.

(This is based on the most recent publicly known information. Players switch agencies all the time. So the players above may have switched agencies. If they have, we apologize for the error).

Of course, there are many strong CAA/Kentucky Knicks ties under Rose.

Toppin is represented by CAA (but it’s worth noting he was the second or third player on various Knicks draft boards, so they felt that they got a player whose value was higher than the eighth pick). Quickley, who has shown the potential to have a strong NBA career, played at Kentucky.

The Knicks extended Randle -- a CAA client -- in the 2021 offseason (though most teams probably would have made a similar decision based on the circumstances).

New York also re-signed Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel to a multi-year deal. Noel was limited to just 25 games last season due to injury, so the signing doesn’t look good right now. But, given Noel’s role in 2020-21, most teams probably would have made the same decision

More recently, the Knicks hired CAA client Gersson Rosas to the front office as a consultant. Rosas, according to various reports, was fired as president of the Minnesota Timberwolves due, in part, to creating a “toxic” working environment. According to USA Today, Rosas “alienated staffers and frustrated agents and executives with other teams with his communication.”

In the weeks after joining the Knicks, Rosas had been talking to at least one team about issues that were beyond the responsibility of a consultant, members of that organization thought. It raised eyebrows in some league circles because of Rosas’ title and the Knicks’ front office hierarchy.

New York employs several top decision-makers under Rose, including Wesley, Brock Aller, GM Scott Perry, Tom Thibodeau, and assistant general managers Perrin and Frank Zanin.

More recently, Rosas earned an official title with the Knicks. A press release from the NBA and FIBA stated that Rosas would be attending the Basketball Without Borders camp in Mexico City. It listed Rosas’ title as a senior basketball advisor. The tone of his conversations with the team referenced above would align with that title.

But Rosas’ role is noteworthy for a front office that enters a pivotal 2022 offseason.

Even with Rosas, Randle and others, the CAA/Kentucky ties to Rose’s Knicks haven’t been overt or detrimental.

Of course, the Knicks would presumably love to land a talented young player represented by the agency, whether it’s Mitchell, Devin Booker, Brunson, Karl-Anthony Towns, or Jaren Jackson Jr., just to name a few.

The organization’s ties to CAA span several years. Top CAA talent agent David “Doc” O’Connor was hired as MSG CEO in 2015. O’Connor, according to the New York Post, was a key to the launch of CAA’s sports division. O’Connor was at MSG for just 28 months. The relationship didn’t produce much for the Knicks’ bottom line. Will Rose’s tenure turn out differently? We’ll find out about that over the next few months of this pivotal offseason.

Thanks in part to the Knicks' draft-night performance under Rose, the sky isn’t falling in New York. No matter where the Knicks end up on Tuesday night, history indicates that they are more likely than not to make the right decision with their pick on draft night.