In a perfect world, the Knicks would love for Shane Larkin to slip to them at the 24th pick in Thursday night's NBA draft. But the athletic point guard from the University of Miami likely will not last past the 20th pick.
In fact, Larkin's agent Happy Walters, who represents Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, elected not to have his client work out with the Knicks. That's how confident Walters is that Larkin will be gone before the Knicks make their only pick.
But the team needs to secure a backup point guard in the draft or free agency with Jason Kidd retiring and Pablo Prigioni still weighing his options to re-sign or return to Spain. That leaves the team, if they favor a point guard in the draft, with four likely candidates: Lorenzo Brown (N.C. State), Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Erick Green (Virginia Tech) and Nate Wolters (South Dakota State).
With key questions surrounding several of them (Canaan being undersized and a volume shooter in college; Green lacking athleticism and playing more of a midrange game; and Wolters showing weakness with speed and explosiveness), Brown is well-liked by the Knicks, according to two league sources.
"He's my sleeper pick for the Knicks," one source told ESPNNewYork.com.
After a strong workout with the Knicks earlier this month, the team was impressed with Brown's unique versatility at the point guard position, especially standing at 6-foot-5. Last season for the Wolfpack, he averaged 12.4 points, 7.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. While his pick-and-roll game needs work, he's athletic and crafty enough with his dribble to get into the paint and score or make heads-up passes. That athleticism also allows him to push the ball well in transition -- which the Knicks want to do more next season -- and enables him to throw down offensive putback dunks.
Defensively, Brown has a high basketball IQ and he plays passing lanes well. When he steals the ball, he has the ability to be a one-man fast break, while having a solid read on the entire court. Being that the Knicks look for transition 3-pointers, Brown could be a helpful facilitator in that regard. However, his own 3-point shooting is weak at this point, but his playing style in college was more of a penetrator and passer -- two priorities for the Knicks who need to get younger, more explosive and improve their scoring inside.
If the Knicks focus on a big man instead, several insiders agree Gorgui Dieng (Louisville) should be their selection if he's available. He's noted for his ability to run the floor, defense, rebounding and finishing ability in pick-and-rolls.
Another big, Tony Mitchell (North Texas), has been projected to go to the Knicks as well, but his work ethic has been criticized. Last season, he tended to get lethargic on defense, watching too many shots. He also struggled with defensive positioning at times and got lost in dead-ball situations.
Overall, Thursday night will mark one of the most unpredictable drafts in some time, and the Knicks' pick at No. 24 is basically a crapshoot. So the Knicks could simply take the best available player, regardless of position.
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