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The Knicks have four picks in the 2021 NBA draft and a lot of front-office chefs in the kitchen.
The Knicks have four picks in the 2021 NBA draft and a lot of front-office chefs in the kitchen as they attempt to figure out which picks to keep and which players to take Thursday night.
According to one league source, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was pushing for West Virginia sophomore point guard Miles McBride, who has been projected in some mocks as an early second-round or late first-round pick. It’s unclear at which slot Thibodeau would prefer to select McBride — No. 19 or 21 in the first round, or No. 32 early in the second round — but the 20-year-old impressed him in his Knicks workout.
McBride was not heavily recruited after he broke his leg in his junior year playing football as a high-school quarterback. He might be a very good value pick — especially with No. 32.
“I see people ahead of him that I know he’s better than,’’ West Virginia assistant coach Erik Martin told The Post. “Some of those guys he’s outplayed when we played them. He’s 6-2, a former football player and a winner. He has toughness. He came in the door with that. Hopefully where he gets drafted is somewhere where he’d play.’’
The Knicks have a crying need for a starting point guard, but could take care of that in free agency. Regarding the draft, Thibodeau has talked about eyeing wings who can shoot.
Enter Ziaire Williams. The same source said Knicks management clearly has the 6-foot-8 small forward out of Stanford on their list despite his disappointing freshman season, which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On a Zoom call Tuesday, the athletic, 19-year-old Williams said he worked out for the Knicks and felt very good about how it all went. Williams singled out Knicks senior adviser William Wesley, who has as much influence as anyone in the organization.
Williams said he worked out with one other player in non-contact drills. At just 180 pounds, but super athletic, he’s considered a project.
“I worked out with the Knicks — I loved it there, too,’’ Williams said. “It was a great workout and intense. I loved World Wide Wes. He’s my guy. That dude is a character. I met coach Thibodeau. I met all the guys. A super-great staff. Real passionate about their jobs. I would love to go to the Knicks for sure.’’
The Nets, who have the 27th pick, but are looking to move up, did not work out Williams, though they did interview him at the combine in Chicago. Williams said he worked out for 10 clubs, including Houston, Oklahoma City, Golden State, Orlando, San Antonio and Charlotte.
The Knicks are keen on wing players who can shoot. One such candidate, however, Oregon’s 24-year-old sharpshooter, Chris Duarte, likely will be gone when the Knicks are up at 19. The Knicks reportedly have already offered the 19th and 21st picks to Golden State to get to the 14th pick, as the Warriors eye Duarte, a 3-point specialist from the Dominican Republic.The source said the Knicks have mixed reviews on Virginia’s Trey Murphy III, also a 3-and-D type.
Williams was heavily hyped coming out of high school in Los Angeles. He was teammates with LeBron James’ son, Bronny, during his senior year at Sierra Canyon School.
At Stanford, however, Williams didn’t live up to the hype, shooting just 37.4 percent from the field in 20 games (29.1 percent from 3-point range) amid a topsy-turvy season. The Stanford basketball team stayed in hotels for a chunk of their season due to a quarantine order by Santa Clara County.
Nevertheless, Williams seems to have a handle on the Knicks’ needs and philosophy.
“I watched the Knicks a lot — a lot in the playoffs,’’ Williams said. “I know they could use a wing who can shoot it and is versatile like me. They’re very scrappy, gritty and it’s defense before everything. That’s what Thibodeau preaches. It all starts with the hunger.’’
As far as the Knicks’ needed upgrade at the point-guard position, they have talked about the potential of a draft-night trade for the Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton.
That doesn’t eliminate McBride, to whom Thibodeau has taken a shine. As a sophomore last season, McBride led the Mountaineers with a 15.9 scoring average and 4.8 assists. In 29 games, McBride shot 43.1 percent from the field overall and 41.4 percent on 3-pointers. Though he’s just 6-3, his wingspan measured at 6-9.
A Williams-McBride combo — if the Knicks keep two of their top three picks — might not be the worst outcome.
The Knicks also are linked to Kentucky big man Isaiah Jackson, who worked out for them. It’s hard to see them adding another power forward who doesn’t shoot from deep, however, when they already have the tandem of Julius Randle and Obi Toppin — unless Toppin is on the move.
But they aren’t called the Kentucky Knicks for nothing. Last November, Wesley and former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne lobbied to draft the Wildcats’ Immanuel Quickley at No. 25.
The Nets are looking to move up, perhaps for Jackson, and reportedly are offering sharpshooter Landry Shamet, whom the Knicks attempted to get from the Clippers in the Marcus Morris trade in 2020.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman