I’m hearing a lot of criticism of the Knicks’ decisions last night and while I think the purchase of the pick used to take Josh Harrellson was curious, I think taking Iman Shumpert was the right move. And since I think they nailed the big one, I’m not going to kill them for taking a guy who is a borderline NBA player with the 45th pick in the draft.
Let’s start with Shumpert. Once the Sixers took Vucevic, no center merited the 17th pick. The options for the Knicks were the points, Jackson, Selby, Shumpert and Morris and Chris Singleton, a defensive forward from FSU. I’m not going to quarrel with the personnel people as to who’s the best point guard. I am going to quarrel with people who are saying the Knicks should have taken Singleton. Singleton and Shumpert are essentially the same guy at different positions - elite-level defenders who need some polish on offense. Let’s not be selfish, folks. For all our talk about defense, it sure seems like people are annoyed that the Knicks took the best perimeter defender in the draft who needs to work on his jumper over more polished offensive players. And as far as not taking Singleton goes, Shumpert plays a position of need - the 1 and the 2 - as opposed to Singleton who plays the 3/4 where we are all set. Oh, and did I mention the 6’5” Shumpert had the highest vert at the combine? I’m hearing the Knicks are planning on playing him with Billups and have him take the tougher defensive matchup and play Chauncey off the ball at times so Shumpert can run the pick and roll. Understand, this was a carefully considered pick of perhaps the best athlete in the draft who addresses a position of need. 100% co-sign.
Then they went out and got Harrellson. It’s a pick I think I understand but I don’t agree with. Before he became a Knick I knew a couple things about Mr. Harrellson. His jersey was too small, he was a tough, obnoxious, country sumbitch who provided a steady garbageman presence for the uber-talented Kentucky teams of the past few years. He looks so Kentucky that I’m positive his dad played for Kentucky against Texas Western, and not in the cool way like Pat Riley. He’s 6’10” and thick. He’s also not an NBA-level talent or athlete. So I see it from a “the Knicks need to get tougher” standpoint but I don’t see it from a “we need guys who can actually play in the league” standpoint. In some ways he’s the anti-Keith Benson - a guy who was still on the board when the Knicks took Harrellson - he’s a high-motor tough guy without an NBA body. Not taking Benson is fine. Addressing this need, also fine. But the Knicks could have had Harrellson when the lockout ends so this pick was pretty wasteful.
But that’s not what gets me. What gets me is that Josh Selby, a guy with way more upside than he has issues, was sitting there for the taking. Yeah, he’s a score first point guard and yeah, the Knicks just took Shumpert who might be a PG as well. But Selby’s a guy they considered taking in the first round and he’s a major talent. He’d also make a great asset to, you know, include in a deal at the deadline for someone like the best point guard in the NBA. Instead of coming to the Knicks Selby ended up in Memphis, a team that clearly understands stockpiling assets.
The Harrellson decision isn’t fatal. The Knicks nailed their first round pick and blew their second one, which is definitely preferred to the reverse. We wanted a Donnie Walsh-run draft and we got it. He’s still got some of that old school college-pedigree stuff in him (it worked with Landry, not so much with Rautins.) The chances are neither Selby or Harrellson do much in the league, but that was still a wasted opportunity.
There are still some guys with potential out there - centers Vernon Goodridge of the D-League and Greg Smith of Fresno State come to mind. The Knicks shouldn’t stop searching for depth and size.
That could have been better, it could have been worse. I can live with it. I’m a Knick fan. Anything that doesn’t actually kill me I can handle.