He comes from The Land Down Under but has made his mark in the Valley of the Sun. With all the media focus on the Knicks’ lottery pick at No. 8 in the Nov. 18 NBA draft, the front office has worked
He comes from The Land Down Under but has made his mark in the Valley of the Sun.
With all the media focus on the Knicks’ lottery pick at No. 8 in the Nov. 18 NBA draft, the front office has worked just as diligently on their second first-round pick at No. 27 and their second-round pick at No. 38.
“They are trying to find the diamond in the rough,’’ one NBA source said.
One player of particular interest is Arizona freshman Josh Green, a shooting guard who moved from Sydney, Australia, to Phoenix when he was 13.
Green is listed at 6-foot-5 but has a 6-10 wingspan. Scouts have classified him as the prototypical 3-and-D.
“He’s an NBA athlete,’’ one NBA scout said of Green. “He excels in transition and has potential as a defender with good awareness. He probably still needs to improve his outside shooting.’’
In his one-and-done, COVID-19-shortened college season, Green averaged 12 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 30 games. He shot a decent 36.1 percent from 3, but there’s been criticism of his shooting mechanics.
“He’d be the perfect fit for the Knicks,’’ another talent evaluator said.
Some NBA officials believe the Knicks may have to trade up a few slots to snare Green because he may not last until No. 27.
Green, who turns 20 next week, is represented by the preferred Creative Artists Agency, which Knicks president Leon Rose ran until March when owner James Dolan chose him to lead the franchise.
“He can shoot and defend, but he could still be a project,’’ ESPN’s draft guru Fran Fraschilla said.
The Knicks obtained the 27th pick from the Clippers at the February trade deadline in exchange for Marcus Morris, now a free agent who could still re-sign with the Knicks if they want to pursue him.
Because of the parity in this year’s draft that extends all the way to the middle of the lottery, the Knicks have no idea who might be there at No 27.
In a perfect world, the Knicks prefer to select a scoring point guard with their lottery pick and a deft outside-shooting swingman with their second first-rounder.
Besides Green, other players who fit that shooting-guard description are Duke swingman Cassius Stanley, 6-7 Robert Woodward II of Mississippi State and Texas Christian’s Desmond Bane.
At 27, the Knicks could be staring at two other Duke players besides Stanley — point guard Tre Jones, RJ Barrett’s former teammate, and freshman center Vernon Carey Jr.
Indications are the intriguing Carey is higher on their list. Knicks GM Scott Perry viewed Carey, son of former Dolphins offensive lineman Vernon Carey, as a surefire first-round pick last season.
Carey is hurt by the perception that he’s a low-post, old-school center akin to Duke draft-bust Jahlil Okafor. Carey has lost 30 pounds since the Duke season ended in March, and he’s shown an ability to hit from the outside in recent workouts.
In fact, there’s talk he will go higher than 27 because of his weight loss and dispelling the myth he’s only a back-to-the-basket big. That was essentially the role in which Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski employed him.
“I like Carey, and I think people undervalue him,’’ the NBA scout said.
If the Knicks don’t take a point guard at No. 8, San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn and France’s Theo Maledon could be point possibilities at 27.
Some of these names might still be around in the early second round at No. 38. Adding three rookies to the roster will have its disadvantages this season, with no summer league and almost no time to get acclimated before a potential Dec. 1 training camp.
To boot, there may not be a traditional G-League season to develop rookies.
“In this draft, there’s no difference between 20 and 40,’’ Fraschilla said. “A good player will be there at 27 and 38.”