Take a deep breath with me Knicks fans. Unlike back in '85 when the Knicks won the lottery with Ewing, we're not in desperate need of a franchise altering player. This year, for the first time since Spree and Houston played the wings, the draft will not be an all or nothing affair. When you read season previews this year, no matter where they are written, or how biased they may be, they will all have one thing in common: the Knicks finishing with a winning record, and thus the promise of playoff basketball at the Garden. And what luck, we can finally see the Knicks name slotted into a spot in the first round!
So for the 2011 draft, the team should not necessarily be looking to upgrade their already explosive scoring ability. There are three concrete scenarios that could happen with the Knicks pick in the draft at 17th overall: they stand pat, they move up, or they trade down. I will present who I think they will take in all three scenarios, and considering my column on the Jets draft, you should probably deem all of these players irrelevant.
If the Knicks stay put:
If there’s one stat that usually holds true from the college ranks to the NBA, it’s rebounding. The defenses in the pros are significantly more stingy, so players that appeared to be offensive maestros in March, turn into one note bench scorers in this league. However, for some reason, people who can rebound in college can rebound in the NBA. Kevin Love was an outstanding rebounder at UCLA (10.6 RPG), which translated to only a small dip in his rookie year (9.1) before becoming the leading rebounder in the league this year.
Well Kenneth Faried, by almost all of the numbers, could quite possibly have been the most prolific rebounder in the history of college basketball. Single season numbers (14.5 RPG in 2011, 1st all time), career numbers (1673 rebounds, 1st all time), any way you cut it, Faried’s name is peppered all over the college basketball rebounding leader boards. What this guy can do is a huge need for the Knicks, a team that ranked 20th in rebounds per game in 2011. Their two best rebounders are also their best scorers, which is never an ideal situation unless you have a monstrous center in the mold of a Dwight Howard.
The biggest worries about Faried are that he is undersized (6’8”), and that he played against less than stellar competition in college. The latter doubt can be assuaged immediately by taking a look at his game logs from last year. Early in the season, Morehead State played Florida and Ohio State. Both teams were national title contenders all year, and both had large and talented front line players (Sullinger, Lauderdale, Mack, Tyus, Parsons).
Faried emerged from the Swamp with a 20 point 18 rebound game in a five point loss. By comparison, Florida’s frontcourt of Parsons, Tyus, and Mack finished with 24 points and 22 rebounds COMBINED. At the :38 mark, Billy Donovan admitted that his normally towering front court got dominated by Faried ALONE. Faried also similarly outplayed the highly touted OSU front court of Lauderdale and Sullinger by outrebounding them 12 to 10, outscoring them 15 to 10, taking less shots and shooting a higher percentage. Oh, and he also chalked up 5 steals against the most well organized offense in college basketball. Did I mention that he’s the only center who ranked in the top 25 in blocks and the top 40 in steals last year?
The undersized knock is slightly more worrisome, but not completely damning. He is only 6’7” or 6’8”, but the NBA has had their share of outstanding undersized rebounders, but to be realistic, Faried doesn’t possess the offensive tools of Sir Charles, and is probably a better defender right off the bat.
No, a more apt comparison for Faried would be an outstandingly productive rebounder from a small college. A guy who was capable of guarding almost every SF or PF in the NBA at his peak, and who proved a vital cog on five different championship teams. That’s more like it. Those five rings (the one’s on his fingers) show that every championship team has a place for a Rodman, and with a little bit of time in the gym, Faried could be that physical, gritty, annoying player that every championship team has in some capacity.
Needless to say, this guy brings a lot of dirty work-type intangibles to the table, he’s an explosive (if not necessarily fluid) athlete with a raw offensive game mostly reliant on dunks. . If he can translate his rebounding to the next level, and take Amar’e’s place guarding the post scoring threat on the opposition, then he’s certainly a fit. I would much rather have a more rested, less physically taxed Stoudemire expending most of his energy getting buckets, and not having to guard the Bosh’s, Boozer’s, and Bogut’s of the world. Faried would give us that luxury.