Keidel: There's No Reason Knicks Can't Land A Stud With 8th Pick
By Jason Keidel
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There's an odd occurrence in the NBA this year. It's not the Warriors' supremacy, their inevitable stampede to next year's NBA Finals or Kevin Durant's selfless gesture to take less money so the team can have its mail forwarded to the next three or four NBA Finals.
The Knicks have a first-round draft pick this year.
After their grotesque penchant for purging their first-round draft picks, a pattern started by Isiah Thomas, the Knicks no longer have a yearly void in the June festivities, which has long been an exciting time for everyone but the Knickerbockers. The Knicks have resisted their impulse to swap valuable picks for aging players or decaying scorers. As a result, their name was tossed into the lottery bubble, which spun and spun and stopped to belch the pingpong ball bearing each team's name.
As with everything and everywhere else, the Knicks didn't prosper in the lottery, languishing near the back end, picking eighth. Just high enough to make you think they will pick a gem, but low enough to know that the best players will be long gone by then.
MORE: History Of Knicks Drafting From The No. 8 Spot
Shouldn't shock you to hear the Knicks have had bad luck and hard luck over the years. But more than any matters left to chance, they've been downright inept, particularly in the NBA Draft. Just a sampling of some of their picks over the last 20 years: John Thomas, Frederic Weis, Donnell Harvey, Michael Sweetney, Mardy Collins, Jordan Hill, Wilson Chandler, Tim Hardaway Jr.
All first-round picks.
Let's assume the Knicks either become shockingly competent or biblically lucky when they use the eighth pick to bag some hardwood gold. Let's dream for a moment, and gaze upon the historical montage of great NBA players who were picked later than No. 8 in their respective drafts.
Future Hall of Famer Manu Ginobili was picked 57th in 1999, and teammate Tony Parker was picked 28th in 2001.
MORE: Schmeelk: Taking A Look At Some Other Options For Knicks In Draft
Two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Joe Dumars was picked 18th in 1985. Fellow guard and Hall of Famer John Stockton was pick No. 16 in 1984. Stockton's teammate and Hall of Famer, Karl Malone, was picked 13th in 1985.
Need more Hall of Famers? How about future Springfield resident Dirk Nowitzki, who was picked No. 9 in 1998?
Some kid named Kobe Bryant was picked No. 13 in 1996.
We also have stars who didn't quite become iconic, but were steals, nonetheless. Like the high-flying forward for the Phoenix Suns, Cedric Ceballos, who was the 48th pick in the 1990 draft.
LISTEN: NBA Writer: 'This Is The Time' For Knicks To Trade Carmelo Anthony
We have Shawn Kemp, the human highlight who made more rims bleed than anyone not named Shaq or Darryl Dawkins. Kemp was picked 17th in 1989.
How about a cross-dressing, earring-bearing, all-time defender and rebounder? Hopefully you couldn't think of anyone other than Dennis Rodman. The five-time NBA champ was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the 27th pick in 1986.
Want some players you don't need to ask Dad about? Kawhi Leonard was picked 15th in 2011. Current All-Star and Chicago Bulls all-world defender Jimmy Butler was picked 30th in 2011. Boston Celtics stalwart point guard and MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas was the last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.
If the Knicks slide up one spot, perhaps they can find the equivalent of two-time NBA MVP, and American darling of the hardwood, Steph Curry, was picked No. 7 in 2009.
Point is, all team sports are littered with teams and players who joined forces in the bowels of their respective drafts, and some others who were picked reasonably high, but not at a spot commensurate to their talent. In the NFL, Tom Brady and Antonio Brown were sixth-round picks. Kam Chancelor was a fifth-round selection. In MLB, Mike Piazza was famously the 1,390th player drafted.
So the holy trinity of skill/will/luck always preside over college drafts. But it's no coincidence that the luckiest teams tend to also be the best teams. Just ask the Knicks. Well, don't. Unless they get good in this year's NBA Draft. Though most of you will just settle for lucky.
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