The New York Knicks entered this season all set up for success in the upcoming NBA Drafts.
They have 10 first-round draft picks from 2023 to 2029 and six potential first-round picks in just the next three drafts. That’s an impressive collection of picks that give the Knicks the flexibility to consolidate picks to move up and draft elite talent or package picks for star-caliber NBA players. It’s an enviable position and one that could change the fortunes of the organization.
If only the other teams around the NBA would cooperate.
The Knicks had the potential to have four first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft, but there is now a strong likelihood that New York will wind up with zero first-round selections.
New York traded its own first-round pick to Portland as part of the Josh Hart trade. The pick is top-14 protected, but with the Knicks looking likely to make the playoffs, that pick would officially belong to Portland.
The Knicks also have Detroit’s first-round pick and Washington’s first-round pick, but Detroit’s pick is top-18 protected and Washington’s pick is top-18 protected. With the Pistons currently dead last in the Eastern Conference and Washington with the 6th-worst record in the NBA, neither one of those picks will transfer to New York for the 2023 NBA Draft.
If they don’t get those picks, the Detroit pick would remain top-18 protected in 2023-24, as would the Washington picks. Which means there’s a good chance that the Knicks might not see either of those picks until 2025.
That just leaves the Dallas pick, which is just top-10 protected and seemed like a given to be transferred to New York for the 2023 NBA Draft. That is, until the Mavericks started to implode.
Prior to trading for Kyrie Irving, the Mavericks were 29-26 with the 5th-best record in the Western Conference and seemed locked into a playoff spot. Since Irving has come over, Dallas has been one of the worst teams in the NBA, posting a 7-13 record, which is the 5th-worst in the league.
As a result, they now sit one game behind the Thunder for the last spot in the play-in tournament and could realistically decide to tank the rest of the season so that they can keep their own first-round pick.
As of Monday morning, the Mavericks have the 10th-best lottery odds, one spot ahead of the Magic, meaning they would pick 10th if the lottery follows the odds based on current records. While things can always break weirdly in the NBA Draft lottery, the Mavericks are now firmly in contention to pick inside the top 10, which means the Knicks are that close to not picking at all in the first round of the NBA Draft.
So why does that matter?
Well, the easy answer is that the Knicks won’t be able to add any first-round talent in the 2023 NBA Draft. They’ve done well when selecting players in the second round (see Miles McBride, Jericho Sims, and Mitchell Robinson), but it’s hard to rely on that to continue every year.
However, the Knicks currently have few spots remaining in their rotation, so it’s also unlikely a first-round pick would have played much. The Dallas, Detroit, and Washington picks not transferring this year wouldn’t hurt their long-term value, so they would only be less attractive to a team that was hoping to add an additional pick for this specific year; a slim possibility.
At the end of the day, if the Dallas pick didn’t transfer this year, it wouldn’t have a major impact on the Knicks’ plans to build their roster. It would certainly ruin the fun of NBA Draft night, but the Knicks wouldn’t have lost an asset or lost any trade value, so they’d still be in the same position to make a big trade that they were in before.
But it might just mean delayed gratification, which is a frustrating idea for Knicks fans who feel like they’ve been waiting for a long enough time already.
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