Let me preface this article by saying I really wanted to draft Kristpas Porzingis on behalf of the New York Knicks with this pick.
Something felt so right about the Knicks trotting out a lanky, European front court of Andrea Bargnani and Porzingis, creating a triangular ringed circus while New York fans try and admit Phil Jackson into a nursing home. But we take our mock drafts very seriously here at Liberty Ballers, and I wanted to show our friends at Posting & Toasting a little compassion.
With Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell off the board, Emmanuel Mudiay is the most logical selection the Knicks can make with the fourth overall pick. Not only does he fill a pretty significant need, but he's easily the most talented player on the board. The Knicks ranked 19th in the league this season in assists per game, an area where Mudiay can positively impact the game. Mudiay sees the floor extremely well, and can give the Knicks a close resemblance to a true point guard, while also allowing Langston Galloway to play more naturally off ball. Obviously there isn't a ton of talent on the Knicks, but Mudiay is an adept enough passer to put his teammates in a good position to score, whether Lou Amundson is actually talented enough to score or not.
Also known for being a pretty poor shooter, it seems as though he's done a nice job over the past year to allay those concerns. During his 12 game stint in the CBA, he shot 47.9% from the floor, and 34.2% from beyond the arc. A 19-year-old being that effective in one of the world's top basketball leagues is a good sign that his shooting touch could translate to the NBA. At the very least, Mudiay should be a good enough shooter that teams will pay the price if they give him the space to shoot from the outside.
There are a couple of initial concerns the Knicks should have about selecting him. Adapting to the NBA from a league where defense is usually considered optional is a definite challenge, and it'll be interesting to see whether Mudiay starts to force up bad perimeter shots, or focuses on driving to the lane and finding his teammates.
Also, if the Knicks are still set on trying to institute the triangle offense, that's something that could really hinder Mudiay's game. New York was tied for 27th last season in pace, large in part because running the triangle means slowing the game down and falling into half court sets. A good portion of Mudiay's game is built predominately on using his speed to push the ball on the fastbreak, and the Knicks offense would greatly limit that. It's hard to get a kid who can be at his best when playing quick to really slow down the tempo of the game and run an offense.
There will be a lot of questions surrounding Mudiay's game and a schematic fit with the Knicks, but it's hard to pass up on the player with the highest ceiling, especially when they desperately need a good point guard. And if the Knicks are committed to it working out, they may have to adjust their offense to him.