The 2018 Knicks Rookie Class May Be the Best in Recent History.

There has been little shortage of turmoil in the Knicks organization over the past decade and a half. It appears the the current front office, tag teamed by Scott Perry and Steve Mills, is attempting to correct the typical issues that have plagued the Knicks for years.

Trading away future draft picks for short term solutions is something that Perry and Mills are adamant about NOT doing. Many Knicks fans can recall the days of Isiah Thomas trading away two first round picks for Eddie Curry and Antonio Davis. These draft picks would later turn into LaMarcus Aldridge in the 2006 draft, and Joakim Noah just one year later. Or how about the time when the Knicks traded away Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quinten Richardson, one first and two second round picks to Toronto for Andrea Bargnani? (This being ranked the worst trade in the last decade by sportingnews.com) The first round draft pick, which was then acquired by Denver, would result in them taking Jamal Murray 7th overall in 2016.

So now that we have established how poorly trading picks has turned out for NYK in recent years we can look into the picks they have kept and used effectively.

With their draft picks in 2018, the Knicks selected lengthy SF Kevin Knox 9th overall as well as the raw and untapped C Mitchell Robinson 36th overall. They also were able to acquire Allonzo Trier, an instant offense guard who went undrafted. These three rookies have all had their time in the New York spotlight throughout this dismal season, and even though there is an unbelievable amount of hype surrounding the 2019 offseason for New York, many Knicks fans can look toward this rookie class as a solid young core that they will have regardless of what transpires in the next 5 months.

 

It is difficult to image a team being able to have three rookies, one being selected in the first round, second round and one being undrafted, that have had the impact that the young Knicks have had. So just how good is the Knicks 2018 class? How does it stack up against some of the best individual team classes of the past?

To put these players on an even playing field I have decided to compare their stats in their rookie seasons alone per 36 minutes. Each class I will be comparing will also be post 2000’s to keep it as recent as possible.

Round one: 2004 Orlando Magic

The first class we are going to put up against the Knicks is the 2004 Orlando Magic, who with the first overall pick selected Dwight Howard. They also were able to acquire Jameer Nelson via a draft day trade. Nelson’s rookie year was impressive as he was able to average 15.4 points per game (ppg) as well as rounding out his game with 5.3 assists per game (apg) and 4.3 rebounds per game (rpg). We will compare him to Trier being that he is the opposing guard. Trier’s numbers are very similar to Nelsons. He is able to slightly edge him out in points at 16.9 ppg as well as in rebounds at 4.8 rpg. However, he falls short in the assists catagory significantly. As for Howard, he was able to average decent numbers with 13.2 ppg, 11.1 rpg and 1.8 blocks. The opposing center, Mitchell Robison, has been able to duplicate these numbers averaging 13.1 ppg to go along with 10.1 rpg. Their numbers are nearly identical except when you look into Robinson’s impressive block statistics. The 2nd round center has been able to put up a staggering 4.5 blocks per 36, as well as ranking first overall in rookie blocks per game. The Magic players draft position significantly weighs them down being that Howard was the first overall pick and Robinson has put up essentially the same stats despite being taken in the second round. Nelson was a first round selection who’s numbers are topped by the undrafted Trier.

04′ Magic vs 18′ Knicks? Point goes to NYK easily.

Round two: 2012 Detroit Pistons

Our next draft investigation is going to be the 2012 Detroit Pistons Class. In the first round the Pistons selected UConn big man Andre Drummond 9th. They came up with a second round steal when they picked recent all-star selection Khris Middleton 39th overall. In his first season Middleton was off to a shaky start for his career. He averaged just 6.1 ppg in 17 minutes per game. This increased to 12.5 points per 36. Middleton’s other statistics were not impressive, and the Pistons were not patient with him as this would be his only season with Detroit before they dealt him to Milwaukee. How do Knox’s numbers compare to Middletons? Knox is outscoring him per 36 averaging 15.8 ppg to go along with 5.6 rpg. The 19 year old wing is also 2 years younger than Middleton was in his rookie season. As for Drummond’s numbers they come in slightly above Robinson’s at 13.8 ppg, 13.1 rpg and an average of 2.8 blocks. I would say that Robinson and Drummond go toe to toe with Drummond averaging more rebounds while Robinson has the advantage with blocks.

12′ Pistons vs 18′ Knicks? Knicks get the slight edge.

Round three: 2007 Memphis Grizzlies

The final challenger in this draft class showdown is the 2007 Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis used its’ 5th overall pick on Ohio State PG Mike Conley. This was the Grizzlies’ only draft pick on the night. However, they orchestrated a trade with the Lakers, landing them the draft rights to Javaris Crittenton and Marc Gasol. This was a trade that would pay off huge dividends for the Grizzlies in the future. Crittenton, the player you most likely haven’t heard of out of the trio, only had a brief 6-year stint in the NBA. Despite the short career, his rookie year per 36 stats are worth mentioning. The six foot five two-guard averaged 14.7 ppg which he paired with 5.8 rpg per 36 as well. Despite these numbers Knox still has the upper hand in terms of points and is practically even with him when it comes to rebounding. Taking into account the draft positions of these players, Knox was selected 9th overall as opposed to Crittenton who was taken 10 spots lower at 19. Looking at Mike Conley’s rookie year numbers, they are not up to par with what we would expect from the now all-star guard. Conley put up 13 ppg to go along with 5.8 apg per 36. Scoring wise, he is beat out by Trier by nearly 4 points. Conley does have the upper hand in assists as Trier only averages 3.1 apg. Here the draft position advantage is significantly won by the Knicks as Trier went undrafted while Conley was selected 5th. The Grizzlies came up huge when they traded for the brother of former Grizzlies big Pau Gasol. Marc would go on to average exceptional numbers for Memphis as well as capturing a defensive player of the year trophy in the process. However, in his rookie season Gasol’s stats are lack luster. At 13.9 ppg he tops Robinson by just .8 points. He falls short of Robinson in the rebounding category at 8.6 rpg. Robinson’s block numbers are above and beyond those of Gasol’s by a full 3 blocks.

07′ Grizzlies vs 18′ Knicks? Once again the advantage is with NYK.

The 2018 Draft was Scott Perry and Steve Mills first draft together with both being in full control of the selection process. It is clear to see that they knocked it out of the park with their talent evaluation in their first year together. Was it beginners luck? Well, whether it was or not, the foundation for the future has been laid out as the Knicks hope to make strides toward a championship in the Future.

 

About Will Swankie 2 Articles
Knicks and NBA focused writer

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