Lies, rumors, conjecture and partial truths. Such is the nature of the NBA draft, taking place tonight (Thursday) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Visions of Karl Anthony Towns dancing in the heads of Knicks personnel and fans became a fantasy on the night of May 19, when the gods of ping-pong balls cruelly bestowed the fourth pick upon the struggling franchise. Finishing the regular season at 17-65, the Knicks had the second highest probability of all teams in the lottery of landing the top pick. However, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were 16-66, and the team with the best statistical chance of winning the lottery, did just that and are all but certain to select the 6-foot-11 center from Kentucky and St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, N.J., who this writer forecasted way back in December would be the eventual No. 1 overall selection.
Knicks President Phil Jackson undoubtedly would have taken the versatile and supremely skilled Towns if the franchise sat atop the draft, as he has publicly stated his desire for a big man who is proficient on both ends of the court, despite the Knicks’ obvious need for an upper-class point guard. Former Duke center Jahlil Okafor and the ultra-athletic 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein from Kentucky, two players who should ultimately be very good pros, have demonstrative deficiencies defensively and offensively, respectively, but Jackson may be compelled to take one of them if they are available when the Knicks pick.
Another intriguing possibility is Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-foot-1 19-year-old from Latvia who many scouts have compared to Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol. Whether it be one of the aforementioned forward-centers, point guard Emmanuel Mudiay or lead guard D’Angelo Russell, optimism is high that the Knicks will conclude the night with a cornerstone player.