New York hasn’t been this close to perfection in a very long time. If ever. The possibility (or dream) of landing the first pick in the NBA draft and Zion Williamson, who has quick hands, footwork, skill in the paint, immediately vaults them out of purgatory even if the LeBron-Zion comparisons are lazy. Zion Williamson is not young LeBron or LeBron 2.0, or LeBron if he went to Duke for a year. Nevertheless, Zion Williamson demonstrated his ability to do things that very few at his size can do. Immediately, he makes the Knicks interesting. By himself, though, he isn’t enough to get the Knicks into the playoffs in 2020. The Knicks need a lot of help.
2018-19 Knicks Weaknesses: 30th: Field Goal Percentage, 2-Point Percentage, Assists, Offensive Rating. 28th: 3-Point Percentage, Points Scored. 26th: Defensive Rating. 24th: Steals, Fast Break Points. 22nd: Field Goal Percentage Defense. 20th, Defensive Rebounding, Total Rebounding.
A talented rookie isn’t going to be the cure. He’ll have his learning curve, particularly how he can’t just run over defenders like he did in college. Zion Williamson’s size isn’t the anomaly. It is his athleticism and quickness.
As a rookie, he’s going to get fatigued, have bad games, suffer frustration, not to mention the normal aches and pains. His talent is going to give him the green light. He’ll dominate the way Luka Doncic dominated and then he’ll slow down as the pace of the game and the expectations catch up with him. Rookies have to learn.
If the Knicks do get the number one pick, immediately after the draft lottery, David Griffin will be on the phone. Zion Williamson for Anthony Davis will be the pitch. From the Knicks angle, it only works if Anthony Davis signs an extension. It would give the Knicks a superstar and an inroad when pitching Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Davis at the power forward. Durant at the small forward. Irving at the point guard. A dream team with a catch. They wouldn’t be able to sign Davis at the extension and give Durant and Irving the max and would have to choose one.
Kevin Durant would be the one. A Davis-Durant front court would be the best front court in the East. In the West. In the NBA. Period. It’s why the Knicks, if Davis agrees to an extension, should trade Zion Williamson to the Big Easy.
Knicks Free Agents: DeAndre Jordan, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay, Noah Vonleh, Luke Kornet, John Jenkins.
Highest salaried Knick, 2019-20: Joakim Noah, $6,431,666.
A gamble is the hidden gem in NBA trade scenarios. You can fail.
What if you trade Zion for Davis, and Kevin Durant signs with the Clippers and Kyrie stays in Boston. You’ll still have Anthony Davis but the New York version of the Pelicans.
Rich Paul will make sure Anthony Davis does not sign unless the Knicks can get Kyrie or Durant. The house money is on Davis’ star power bringing in another star.
Losing Zion would be a tough loss but look at it this way. You are replacing what you know with what you think you know. Sure, you can have Durant, Kyrie and Zion. That’s pretty good. But Davis is a better talent than Kyrie. Davis and Durant are a better combo than a rookie whose ceiling is up in the air and an undersized clutch shot maker with average defense.
Some think Zion is going to be an All-Star. Others see an explosive Julius Randle. The Knicks fanbase has suffered so much these last 50 years, they deserve veterans who understand the game, know how to win, can meet the moment, and are proven. Durant and Kyrie are champions, Kyrie hit a game winner. Durant is a Finals MVP two times over. Durant and Davis have size and versatility.
The East isn’t a hotbed of elite. Subtract Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo and you’re left with John Wall and Victor Oladipo.
A movie once said, greed is good. It is when it’s a NBA team and you can stockpile elite talent. It makes you forget the nightmare and the crash, the failures, trades, busts, Derrick Fisher and Phil, and even Melo. It will be a new day but only if….
The Knicks get the number one pick.