Pros and Cons: Should Knicks select Tyler Kolek in 2024 NBA Draft?

After multiple spot-on draft selections in 2020 and 2021 set the Knicks up for their best stretch in recent franchise history, New York should look to recreate that success this year.

They have back-to-back late first round picks at 24 and 25, plus the 38th overall pick, and have been relatively inactive in the past two drafts.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Knicks' potentially drafting Marquette’s Tyler Kolek...

The case for drafting Kolek

Kolek is one of this class’ most impressive point guards. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds on 55.2 percent shooting from two and 38.8 percent from three in his senior season.

The 6'1", 197-pound lefty shooter has a tremendous basketball IQ, crafty old-man game, and touch from every spot on the court. Marquette’s offense ran through him and was rewarded with a trip to the Sweet 16.

Kolek is a pick-and-roll maestro, manipulating defenders into allowing him to the rim or leaving a teammate open. Even without a clear lane or standout athleticism, Kolek uses any available angle or defensive mistake to find a paint bucket.

His handle is sharp and consistent. Kolek won’t dazzle with an incredible combination, but knows just the spot where a hard crossover will bend the defense to his will.

Kolek's passing may be his most dangerous weapon. He’s mastered pick-and-roll lobs, pocket passes, cross-court weak-side corner bullets, and anything else an NBA initiator needs.

He has terrific patience on his drives, often probing defenses like a veteran until he finds the open man. His drive, draw two and kick game will be extremely valuable at the next level, should defenses continue fearing his scoring.

Kolek sees the game ahead of most of his opponents, and even his teammates. His passing in transition is special, and a chunk of his turnovers can be attributed to his fellow Golden Eagles not expecting an advanced read.

He’s also a knockdown shooter, lacing 38.8 percent of his threes on both catch-and-shoot and pull-up looks. His form isn’t the quickest, but it’s smooth and consistent, lofting high-arcing missiles that drop efficiently.

There’s reason to think he has even more shooting upside. Most of his threes came above the break. That, and his 85.1 percent free throw shooting clip both suggest he can be a lethal shooter at the next level. 

Another thing to like about Kolek’s offensive package is his fearlessness. He loves seeking physical contact on his drives and doesn’t sweat taking on the big moments.

That kind of attitude would serve the Knicks well. He would also fill a need as another creator, which New York was short on amidst all the injuries late this season.

The fact that he spent four seasons at the collegiate level and is NBA-ready offensively should also entice the front office. If the Knicks want a surefire offensive sparkplug and believe Kolek can perform as one in the NBA, he should be a target for them.

The case against drafting Kolek

As commanding as Kolek looked this season, there are real questions as to how his game will translate to the NBA.

First, he was posted at 6'3" but measured at 6'1" at the Draft Combine, along with a 6'2" wingspan. Those are unimpressive figures that all but lock him at the point guard position.

Kolek has decent burst and great deceleration, but isn’t the strongest or bounciest athlete. He’ll have to make up for his frame and lack of twitchiness against more athletic and skilled guys in the NBA.

His height is just one concern with his positional maneuverability. Kolek was his team’s offense, but as an NBA rookie will very likely have to take on a way smaller role than he’s used to.

Playing away from the ball more will take away from one of Kolek’s biggest strengths -- his passing -- and put more reliance on his shakier shooting game. On the other hand, giving him the keys to your offense might work for some teams, but the Knicks may be reluctant to do so, even with their bench unit.

Kolek's defense is another reason New York may look elsewhere. On ball, he’s not a threat to most players, and hiding him on wings may not even work.

He tries and has a solid IQ on that end, but off-ball he can get caught ball-watching, leading to uncontested scores. The good news is he’s active and largely cares defensively, coming away with 1.6 steals a game.

Still, having to develop this side of the game from such a low point may be too big an ask for the Knicks, who are trying to contend in the short-term. There may be more viable NBA-ready options who come with a better fitting skill set.