2017 NBA Draft Preview

Tracking the Knicks Pre-Draft Workouts

The Knicks reportedly have a laundry list of intriguing first and second round draft prospects ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Photo: Anthony Corbo/TKW Illustration

The Knicks are doing their due diligence scouting both first and second round prospects, as they should, seeing that they hold the eighth, 44th and 58th picks in the 2017 NBA Draft this year. Their first crop of players includes some interesting names, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley:

In addition to UNC’s Tony Bradley, the Knicks’ workout today included Kobi Simmons, Kasey Hill, Tyler Dorsey and Omer Yurtseven, per ESPN sources. It was the first day of workouts for the Knicks, who have the eighth pick in the draft and two second-round picks.

In addition to this report, Begley also shared that the Knicks will host Iowa State PG Monte Morris:

Iowa State point guard Monte Morris is scheduled to work out for the Knicks on June 8, agent Ron Shade of Octagon told ESPN.

Berman of the NY Post shared that the Knicks will also workout Morris’ teammate, Deonte Burton:

Jeff Borzello shared another interesting name:

This is exciting! Youth! Potential! High ceiling players! People not named Joakim Noah! Let's hope the Knicks are in fact “good at what they do” and draft a player that may develop into a worthwhile rebuilding piece. Let’s take a look at some of the prospects Peyote Man has his eye on.

Photo: Sporting News

Tony Bradley, PF/C, UNC

Bradley waited until Wednesday, the deadline for underclassmen to decide whether they are staying or withdrawing from the NBA Draft, to forgo his college basketball career and enter the draft. Bradley is a trailblazer by UNC standards, electing for the one-and-done strategy while most UNC prospects choose their allegiance to Roy Williams over cashing in on the draft. I can’t say I hate his decision; Bradley is a physical freak, standing at 6'11", while weighing 250 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan and a 9'5" standing reach. During UNC’s championship run, Bradley’s bread and butter was attacking the glass and grabbing loose boards. He’s shown excellent body positioning to grab offensive boards. Exhibit A:

via The Hoops Column

He’s got terrific lower body strength to fight off his opponent and grab the loose board, even after he’s fouled. There may be some potential on the offensive end with Bradley as well. He’s got nice touch around the basket, which may make him a strong fit with the Knicks triangle offense, which utilizes a lot of pick-and-roll:

via The Hoops Column

The first thing you’ll notice in this clip is that Bradley is one of the first ones in position. He really hustles down the floor, and then displays a super athletic catch and pivot combo followed up by a nice little hook in the paint. Bradley is currently DraftExpress’ 41st NBA Draft prospect, but based on the fact that he’s keeping his name in the draft, it’s possible he received a first round promise from one of the teams picking in the back end of the round. If the Knicks are looking for another big man to platoon with Porzingis and Hernangómez, they should cross their fingers for him to fall to pick 44.

Photo: Arizona Desert Storm

Kobi Simmons, PG, Arizona

Kobi Simmons’ most appealing trait is his absurd athleticism. At 6'5" with a 6'6" wingspan, he’s got good size to play both guard positions, even though the majority of his minutes came at point guard during his lone season at Arizona. Here’s Arizona’s Sean Miller on Simmons’ athletic outlook:

(Kanye voice) SCARY.

The soon-to-be 20-year-old Simmons started 19 games for the Wildcats this past season, averaging 8.7 points and 2.0 assists (via RealGM). He’s got room to improve his 3-point shooting, only connecting on 32 percent of his triples last season, but he seems comfortable in the mid-range. A confident ball handler, he is incredibly shifty bringing the ball up the court. Watch him hit UCLA’s Bryce Alford with a little shake and bake:

via Frankie Vision

It was a bit of a surprise to see Simmons declare after just his freshman year, since most mock drafts have him in the late second round or undrafted. He’s currently DraftExpress’ 65th prospect. This could bode well for the Knicks hoping to snag a developmental guard with their 58th pick.

Kasey Hill, PG, Florida

A former consensus top 10 recruit, Kasey Hill has since evolved his game. He has gone from flashy, score first tendencies to more of a defensive, pass-first mentality. A four-year player at Florida, Hill has never shot above 30 percent from beyond the arc. That’s not his game. However, in each season, Hill has averaged at least one steal per game, while averaging nearly two per game during his senior campaign. His hyperactive defense and floor general play style played an integral role during Florida’s Elite Eight run.

The 23-year-old standing at 6'1" doesn’t necessarily have the highest ceiling in the world. He’s not currently in DraftExpress’ top 100 prospects and will likely go undrafted. You know who else went undrafted and ended up having a semi-solid season for the Knicks? Ron Baker. I’m just sayin’.

Photo: Daily Emerald

Tyler Dorsey, SG, Oregon

(h/t to James W. for the scouting notes)

Dorsey is a scorer in every sense of the word. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say he may be one of, if not the most, polished offensive players in the draft this year. He’s got a loaded arsenal of scoring styles: step-backs, floaters, and crafty layups in traffic. Dorsey doesn’t often force shots. He’s patient and allows the game present itself to him.

He’s a terrific shooter with a high release point, as he takes the time to set his feet before firing. His shooting efficiency, 42 percent from the perimeter this season, is something NBA general managers will be salivating over. Dorsey also showed a tremendous ability to get his defender in the air and draw contact during the NCAA Tournament.

via NCAA March Madness

He was asked to play a good portion of point guard during his two seasons at Oregon, and it shows. He’s very comfortable handling the ball. He’s shown some solid in-and-outs, and while he may not be an elite ball-handler, he is secure enough in isolation just like fellow draft prospect Dennis Smith, Jr.

Dorsey’s biggest weakness may be his size. At 6'4", 183 pounds, he may be a bit of a tweener with no real position in the NBA. His size may also limit his defensive impact, but such an impact wasn’t noticeable during March Madness. In fact, he made a few nice plays creeping into the passing lanes, à la Courtney Lee. Dorsey is DraftExpress’ 48th prospect, but after his stellar NCAA Tournament performance, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him selected in the late first round by a contender who needs a scorer off the bench. Talk about producing when it matters the most:

via Bleacher Report

Omer Yurtseven, PF/C, NC State

The Knicks would absolutely silly to pass on Yurtseven with the eighth pick, I mean this guy is a can’t miss prospect…just kidding, he gone:

Monte Morris, PG, Iowa State

Monte Morris brings a bit of experience to this group. The 6'3" point guard started all four years at Iowa State, putting up an impressive 16 points per game, nearly five rebounds per game, and six assists per game on 46.5 percent shooting (per RealGM). He also knocked down threes at a 38 percent clip. One of the most reliable point guards in college basketball during his tenure, Morris led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio three out of the past four years despite playing in a high tempo, run-and-gun offense.

Morris is an elite floor general who sees the passing lanes very well, runs the pick-and-roll offense to a tee, moves the ball in transition, and protects the basketball. Watch Morris push the pace off a Oklahoma State turnover and dart a no-look pass to the cutting wingman:

via DraftExpress

Here’s another look at Morris pushing in transition off a defensive rebound, keeping his head up and dishing a look away pass to the open man:

via DraftExpress

The Knicks struggled with shifting gears in transition last season, specifically after defensive rebounds. They need to play quicker off misses, and Morris seems to have that aspect of the game locked down already. It’s really a pleasure to watch Morris maneuver the pick-and-roll offense. In the clips below, you’ll first see Morris wait for the helping defender drag away from his assignment and then hit his teammate with a pinpointed bounce pass:

via DraftExpress

The second portion of the above clip shows Morris have the awareness to realize the helping defender has left his assignment and snaps a quick pass to his teammate for an easy jumper. Morris’ weaknesses aren’t glaring enough to severely limit his potential as an NBA player in my opinion. He doesn’t play above the rim and doesn’t exactly possess elite athleticism. He’ll be limited on defense and won’t be throwing down any tomahawk jams, but these weaknesses can be hidden by sound game planning and strong coaching.

Morris is DraftExpress’ 72nd prospect and will most likely be a 2nd round pick. I think he could be an excellent fit for the Knicks.

via FanSided

Deonte Burton, SG, Iowa State

Deonte Burton, Morris’ teammate at Iowa State after transferring from Marquette, is a junkyard dog-type player. At 6'5", 260 pounds with a gigantic 6'11" wingspan, Burton is built like an NFL tight end, and could make a smooth transition given his physical play style. But don’t let his size and physical style deceive you. Burton is a capable perimeter shooter, connecting on 37.5 percent of this threes during his senior season. He’s also surprisingly nimble in transition and gets to the basket at will. However, his free-throw shooting does leave something to be desired, since he clocks in at an average 66 percent.

Defensively, he doesn’t have the conditioning to stay in front of quicker players. He’s also on the older side, at 23 years old. He’ll likely go undrafted, but could be a decent player at the end of the bench. Oh yeah, and he did this while at Marquette:

via Marquette Golden Eagles

Caleb Swanigan, PF/C, Purdue

Lastly, Swanigan is an interesting name for a number of reasons, the most interesting being that Swanigan will almost definitely be selected by the time the Knicks are on the clock with the 44th pick. Could they be plotting to move up for the Purdue big man? At 6'9", 250 pounds, Swanigan is also a bit of a tweener. He’s not exactly tall enough to man the center position, and is a bit undersized for the power forward position. He’s a bit of a weird player, as he’s made great strides in extending his range to the perimeter (he shot 45 percent from 3 on 85 attempts), but is also a physical low post presence. He uses his size to his advantage by bullying and malling smaller players to get to the basket and has great awareness passing out of the post (something Phil Jackson was excited about with Joakim Noah?).

He’s extremely limited athletically and defensively which will cap his potential in the NBA and could make him slip in the draft. But even so, Swanigan has a place in this league.

The next few weeks are a fun time to be a Knicks fans. With reported workouts, rumored interest, and scouting trips, we’ve got something to look forward to. These guys could end up being valuable pieces for a Knicks rebuild.

Brendan Duball, staff writer

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