Is Tony Mitchell the big man answer?

June, 8, 2013
6/08/13
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If one thing was made clear after the Knicks' loss to the Pacers, it was that New York has a big man problem.

The Pacers out rebounded and outscored the Knicks in the paint throughout the series. Carmelo Anthony was the Knicks' only consistent scoring threat in the post. And their only other big with a legitimate offensive skill set -- Amar'e Stoudemire -- wasn't available to play big minutes.

[+] EnlargeTony Mitchell
Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Knicks could take big man Tony Mitchell with the 24th pick.
So the Knicks have a void to fill on the front line this offseason. Top prospect Tony Mitchell thinks he's the guy who can fill it.

"I think I can fill that void by being a stretch four or pick and pop or pick and roll, whatever they want me to do," Mitchell said on Friday after his workout with the Knicks.

Mitchell is one of the most intriguing picks in the draft. He's been described as one of the top athletes available. At 6-8, 220-pounds, he's listed as a small forward but in the Knicks' small ball alignment, Mitchell could man both forward spots.

He proved to be a strong rebounder as a freshman at North Texas. He and eventual No. 1 pick Anthony Davis were the only freshman to average double doubles in 2011-12.

Many expected Mitchell to enter the draft last year, but he decided to return to North Texas for his sophomore season.

Expectations were sky-high, but Mitchell struggled. His per-game points, rebounds and blocks were down during his sophomore season and his draft status plummeted. He said after the season that he failed to give full effort in games, a potential red flag for teams interested in him.

So Mitchell has spent the past few weeks working out for NBA teams and trying to convince them that effort isn't an issue.

"My effort wasn't a question my freshman year so I'm just trying to show them that I can give effort, 110 percent," Mitchell said on Friday.

Mitchell says he has worked out for the Blazers, Bulls, Nuggets and Jazz. ESPN's Chad Ford has the Knicks taking Mitchell with the 24th pick in his latest mock draft.

If that happens, Mitchell believes he can make an impact as soon as he hits the floor.

"I'm sure I could bring excitement and athleticism; dunking the ball, blocking shots. Just whatever they need me to do, rebound the ball, defend somebody," Mitchell said. "I'm just trying to contribute and help the team win, help the organization win."

DO KNICKS LIKE LEDO? Ricky Ledo also worked out for the Knicks on Friday. He said his workout was one of the best that he's had in front of NBA teams. Ledo has worked out for seven other teams, he said. At 6-foot-6, the combo guard from Providence could help fill the role of backup guard that was vacated when Jason Kidd retired. Ledo, though, has been projected by many as a second-round pick, and the Knicks currently don't have a second-round selection.

"It definitely feels like I can come in and fill that void of a backup point guard and back up combo guard," said Ledo.

One issue with Ledo? He did not play last season at Providence due to academic issues. He practiced with his teammates which, he says, helped him stay sharp entering the draft.

"For me not to play a year, and to be where I'm at, compared to a lot of other guys who played college, I'm definitely worthy of a pick," Ledo said.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2