The 2019-20 season still has a quarter of its schedule remaining, but the New York Knicks have already been relegated to a winter of looking ahead yet again.
With one game remaining before the All-Star break, the Knicks have as many wins as they did all last season at 17-37 — good for the fifth-worst record in the NBA.
Once again, the team will be relying on ping-pong balls to help lift them out of their two-decade funk as the draft lottery offers the promise of delivering them a franchise-altering talent.
Luck has never been on the Knicks’ side when it comes to the lottery. Since controversially getting the No. 1 pick in 1985 — which led to the acquisition of Patrick Ewing — the Knicks have not received a pick over their initial lottery ranking.
That included last year when their top chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick and Zion Williamson turned into the No. 3 pick and RJ Barrett after the ping-pong balls fell.
Come June when it’s time for the 2020 draft, the Knicks will likely be using their lottery pick to try and find that elusive franchise point guard.
While a top-five pick is very much in their reach, the Knicks have multiple prospects to scout in the coming months as any of them could be available on draft night.
Here are a few names to watch out for.
Team: Illawarra Hawks (NBL, Australia)
2019-20 stats: 17 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7 apg
The youngest Ball brother might not be the most explosive athlete, but he is arguably the top point guard prospect available in the 2020 draft.
The 18-year-old already stands at 6-foot-6 and shows the ability to score from almost anywhere on the floor.
He already has a solid shot from deep and his mid-range game is just as good. Couple that with an ability to drive to the basket and he’s proven to be a nightmare for opposing defenses all over Australia.
School: North Carolina
2019-20 Stats: 19.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.5 apg
It’s been a difficult season for Anthony, whose draft stock has taken a bit of a hit.
His statline is near what we expected, but an 11-game absence due to surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee and North Carolina’s struggles this year are working against him.
Still, Anthony is a playmaking extraordinaire when he’s healthy. While he’s more of a scoring point guard rather than a creator, he’s shown a knack of getting to the basket and drawing fouls in the process thanks to plus agility and ambidextrous finishing capabilities at the rim.
He will have to improve on his shot selection similarly to Barrett when he came out of Duke last year.
School: Iowa State
2019-20 Stats: 15.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.5 apg
Haliburton has shot up draft boards everywhere thanks to his above-average court vision that has him slated as one of the game’s next great distributors.
The length he carries at 6-foot-5 allows him to make the difficult passes around defenders. It also creates easy shots that he isn’t afraid of passing up when they’re presented to him. It’s why he went from averaging six points per game last season to over 15 this year.
He’s a contributor on both sides of the floor, providing stingy perimeter defense as well.
Those intangibles suggest that he wouldn’t need as much polishing compared to Ball, Anthony, or current young Knicks like Barrett and Frank Ntilikina.