He’s not a scoring point guard, he’s not even a good shooter. But he’s got a reputation for being a winner and defender — and that might be what the moribund Knicks need with their No. 8 draft pick. According to an NBA source, Auburn’s 6-foot-6 small forward Isaac Okoro has support among Knicks brass …
He’s not a scoring point guard, he’s not even a good shooter. But he’s got a reputation for being a winner and defender — and that might be what the moribund Knicks need with their No. 8 draft pick.
According to an NBA source, Auburn’s 6-foot-6 small forward Isaac Okoro has support among Knicks brass as a consideration for the draft on Oct. 16.
If the Knicks decide to trade a shade back and obtain another asset, Okoro probably will be gone — which might be the route they choose.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said his staff had been interviewed by the Knicks about Okoro before the lottery.
“They’ve done their homework on him,” Pearl told The Post recently. “I didn’t get a read on it, but they’ve done their due diligence.”
ESPN’s college basketball maven, Seth Greenberg, sees a potential Jaylen Brown-type player in Okoro. Some have compared Okoro to Toronto’s wing, OG Onunoby.
“He’s a winner,’’ Greenberg told The Post. “He probably could defend 1-to-4 without an issue. He’s physically strong. He’s got a good floor game. You can post him up. He’s got some similarities to Jaylen. Physically strong, really defend and a toughness about him. High energy. Relentless work ethic. The thing I like the most is just his relentlessness.
“Jaylen Brown had the same question coming out of college, too, and he’s a good shooter now.”
The question could also be whether Okoro drops to No. 8.
“This draft [Okoro] gets consideration as high as No. 4,’’ one NBA personnel director told The Post. “He’s got NBA size, is an athlete with toughness and plays D. So he can get on the court fairly quickly. Coaches like that. After the top three, you can make a case for a lot of players.’’
The top three players figure to be Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball, the latter being tops on president Leon Rose’s draft board.
Okoro guarded the opponent’s top scoring wing. The first one-and-doner in Auburn history averaged 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and almost one steal a game. He shot 51.4 percent, but just 29 percent from 3. His baskets often came off his dribble-drives in the lane.
“In the Kentucky game, [Okoro] was the most physically imposing player on the floor,’’ Greenberg said. “He was tough to keep off the glass and out of the lane. His body is NBA-ready.”
The Knicks need to solidify their point-guard position, but if Okoro falls, they can use their second first-rounder on a point guard. The Knicks could trade up from No. 27 to nab speedy Kira Lewis (Alabama) or sharpshooter Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt), who also has some fans in the organization.
Plus, Rose will have his eye out in free agency and the trade market, where Ben Simmons of the Sixers and OKC’s Chris Paul could be available.
Meanwhile, Okoro, of Powder Springs, Ga., entered his freshman year with little buzz. In one national college preview, Okoro was the fifth Auburn forward mentioned but worked his way into a full-time starter. Pearl said he believes he’ll turn into a better shooter because he’s a gym rat.
The Sixers, ousted by the Celtics in a sweep Sunday, could well break up the core and look to deal either center Joel Embiid or Simmons. Embiid was Rose’s client at the Creative Artists Agency and it’s not hard to imagine him wanting a change of scenery to New York.
During All-Star Weekend, Embiid said of Rose, “Leon is my guy. He’s like family to me. When I heard the news, I was happy for him. He’s cool. Being an agent for such a long time and getting a GM or a president job I think is amazing. I’m so happy for him. I’m sure he’ll do a good job over there.”