What Knicks pre-draft workouts reveal about their NBA Draft plan

Madison Square Garden Knicks
Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks.
AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

The New York Knicks will enter the 2023 NBA Draft with no picks at all, thanks to the Dallas Mavericks’ late-season tank and a trade that landed Josh Hart from Portland. 

Still, there are plenty of ways that the Knicks could acquire a pick in this year’s draft, so the team is still doing their due diligence on players in case they do make a move to be a part of next Thursday night’s event. 

With NBA Draft workouts being far more public now than they were in the past, we’re able to look at who the Knicks have done private workouts with as a way to get a sense of what their plan might be come draft night. 

According to USA Today, the Knicks have worked out nine players so far: 

Player Team Position
Dane Goodwin Notre Dame SG/SF
Justyn Mutts Virginia Tech SF/PF
Craig Porter Jr. Wichita State PG
Justin Powell Washington State SG
Antonio Reeves Kentucky SG
Terry Roberts Georgia PG
Adama Sanogo UCONN PF/C
KJ Williams LSU PF
Khalid Moore Fordham SF/PF

Of those nine players, only Adama Sanogo is ranked inside the top 62 for Hoops Hype’s latest Aggregate Mock Draft, and he came in at 62 exactly. Considering only 58 players will be drafted this year, it would seem to indicate that the Knicks are not gearing up for any major moves ahead of the NBA Draft. At least not one that would lead to them acquiring a signifcant draft pick. 

As a point of contrast, the Atlanta Hawks, who have two picks, worked out 77 players and the Boston Celtics, who have just one second-round pick worked out 42 players.

It would be unlikely for the Knicks to trade into the draft and select a player who they haven’t had a chance to work out personally. As a result, the team only working out nine players either means they have been incredibly successful at hiding their workouts from the public or they’re not really interested in participating in the 2023 NBA Draft aside perhaps paying their way into a late second-round pick. 

Adama Sanogo could be a Knicks draft target
Adama Sanogo shoots a free throw for UCONN in 2022 (wikimedia commons)

Of the players the Knicks worked out, who should be the most interesting to Knicks fans?

All of Adama Sanogo, KJ Williams, and Justyn Mutts seem like potential replacements if the Knicks were to move on from Obi Toppin this offseason, as we’ve suggested could be likely

Sanogo has incredible touch in the paint and despite being more of an undersized traditional big man, began to show this year that he can step out and shoot. Despite not taking a lot of threes, he hit 36.5% of his shot from deep and is a good free throw shooter, so he could morph into a solid shooter with a powerful 250-pound frame. 

Honestly, that’s not much different from what the Knicks ran up against in 6’9″ Bam Adebayo, who torched New York in the playoffs this year. 

The 6’10” Williams was a second-team All-SEC selection. His 17.7 points per game led the Tigers in scoring and were second in the SEC behind only potential second-overall pick Brandon Miller. While Williams is not a great defender and rim protector, he can score in a number of ways, shooting 49% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range, so he could be the type of player the Knicks were trying to turn Toppin into. 

Mutts is more of the player that Toppin in right now, but perhaps a more developed passer. Mutts wins by slashing to the basket and playing with motor and length. However, he can also handle the ball and is a strong passer from the high post, adept at finding cutters in rhythm. He has never taken more than 50 threes in a season, so he doesn’t bring the potential shooting upside of Williams or Sanogo. 

The workouts for Craig Porter Jr. and Terry Roberts don’t make a ton of sense since both are pure point guards. Unless the Knicks are doing due diligence in case they decide to move Immanuel Quickley in a trade this off-season. 

Porter Jr. averaged 13.5 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 6.2 RPG at Wichita State and is known as a good rebounder and a good defender, who has a knack for hustle plays like steals and blocks.

Roberts played in 29 games this season and was Georgia’s leading scorer at 13.2 points per game while shooting 38.4% from the field and 29.9% from beyond the arc. He did lead the team with 116 assists and 44 steals, and he also shot 34.5% from 3-point range during his Junior year at Bradley, but he doesn’t seem to fill a current need, unless the Knicks move one of their guards.  

The players that are most intriguing are Dane GoodwinJustin Powell, Antonio Reeves, and Khalid Moore, who would all provide the Knicks with some shooting off of the bench. 

Goodwin finished with career averages of 10.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 39.1% shooting from 3-point range. He had 11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and two assists on 38.8% shooting from beyond the arc this past season at Notre Dame. At 6’5″ that shooting could be welcome on the wing. 

Justin Powell spent three seasons with different teams, spending his freshman season at Auburn, sophomore season at Tennessee, and junior season at Washington State. In 34 games last season, Powell averaged 10.4 points on 40.8% shooting, but also shot 42.6% from deep on 5.4 attempts per game. 

The Knicks also have a track record of gravitating toward Kentucky talent, so it’s no surprise they brought in Reeves, who was second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. He shot 41.6% from the field and 39.8% from deep while being names SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year. Are you seeing a trend here? 

Lastly, Khalid Moore is not known as a shooter, but he made huge gains at Fordham this season, with a 58.6% true shooting percentage and a 25.6% usage rate. He is a high-motor player with an NBA-ready body and could have upside as an NBA rotation player if those shooting gains hold. 

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Dane Goodwin could be a Knicks draft target
Dane Goodwin handles the ball for Notre Dame in 2022 (wikimedia commons)