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The Calm After the Storm: Who’s Still Out There?

The draft has concluded. Who can the Knicks target in the undrafted free agent market?

Photo: Claire Collins / Daily Tar Heel

After months of anxious anticipation, #KnicksDraft2017 has come and gone. New York nabbed French point guard Frank Ntilikina at eight overall along with both shooting guard Damyean Dotson from the Univeristy of Houston and PG Ognjen Jaramaz from Serbia in the second round.

Regardless of whether you think Frankie will be a star or be a bust, there’s no denying his physical gifts. At only 18 years of age, the 6'6" Ntilikina possesses a solid NBA frame with a 7' wingspan, which already gives him a distinct advantage at the point guard position. Combined with the 7'3" KP and the 6'11" Willy Hernangómez, the Knicks suddenly have a nice youthful core with incredible length.

Despite the guard oriented world league we live in today, length has proven to be so valuable at the professional level and is something that cannot be taught. Yes of course, length means absolutely nothing if talent, effort and execution aren’t there, but having rangy, sinewy guys all over the court definitely can pay dividends with shot making and especially on the defensive end. Lord knows the Knicks could use all the defensive help they can get their hands on.

Length should be the primary focus as the Knicks attempt to find post-draft hidden gems. It would behoove NY to continue their trend of acquiring long, athletic players. Adding more physically imposing players to a team that already boasts long dudes like Frankie, KP and, Willy could propel the Knicks back into contention faster than we think.

The secondary focus of this free agency period should be three-point shooting. Since the Knicks didn’t end up getting sharpshooter Malik Monk, it is important to try to find shooters to take the pressure off KP and give Ntilikina someone to dish the ball too. In a league where three point shooting is the name of the game, having depth that can knock down threes and provide instant offense is crucial.

Although it is not a tremendously deep pool of talent to pick from, there is definitely potential to pick up some glue guys and maybe even a future starter who could be valuable down the road. So far, the Knicks have reportedly signed Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet, and Rick Barry’s kid Canyon Barry to partially guaranteed contract. Those guys and more are expected to compete on New York’s Summer League team.

Here are some guys the Knicks should consider while diving into the undrafted free agent pool:

Photo: Sports Illustrated

Johnathan Motley

Quite frankly, I am shocked that Motley wasn’t selected at all in the draft this year. I know he had the meniscus injury, but this guy was projected to go as high as the mid first round, but somehow he ends up being available on the Friday after the draft. The 6'10" forward from Baylor would be a perfect fit for the Knicks and he is someone who needs to be on their radar, point blank, no discussion. Motley is long, athletic and has proven to be tenacious on both ends of the floor. He doesn’t have the makings of a star, but Motley, could easily be a rotation player and a nice complement to spell KP when he needs a rest or is out for whatever reason.

If I were Phil Jackson and the front office, I would do whatever I can to get this guy in and give him a shot.

Nigel Hayes

Just as I write this, Nigel Hayes has signed with the Knicks and will be participating in the summer league, so let me take this opportunity to give my two cents on the Badgers big man.

Hayes brings length and a good offensive repertoire to the team and has plenty of big game experience. Most mock drafts had Hayes either undrafted or late second round, so the fact that he was available wasn’t much of a surprise. He has the potential to be a solid contributor off of the bench if he can stick as a Knick. This is a very solid pick up in my opinion and someone who could be a sleeper on the roster next season. Again, he is the epitome of toughness and is definitely someone who could help along the culture change in New York.

It is important to note Hayes was quoted as saying I don’t really like New York…it’s too big, it’s dirty, trash everywhere, too many people. It’s cold right now,prior to a sweet sixteen game in New York last season. Maybe this isn’t the first choice of city for Nigel, hopefully he warms up to this “dirty” city with time.

Video: via DaHoopsSpot Productions

Nate Britt

Another guy who has played in games of huge magnitude in his career, including a national championship game. Britt is only 6'1" and doesn’t fit the bill of a guy with length that the Knicks are looking for. However, this guy exhibited tremendous toughness and always seemed to make the right play for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. His Isaiah Thomas-like mentality could help him make it in the NBA, even though it’s going to be tough for him to land with a team. Britt could definitely fit well on the Knicks as a third option at point guard to round out the roster.

I know this might be a head scratcher and most of you probably don’t know who Nate Britt is, but he is a competitor who could make a team based on his speed and his great work ethic (a necessity for the Knicks) He can also shoot the rock too:

As the day progresses and more free agents are signed, the Knicks hope to pick up last years version of Ron Baker and get similar productivity out of a 2017 undrafted signee.

Nick Scolaro, staff writer

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