March Madness is well underway, and only 16 schools are left dancing in the NCAA Tournament.
That means no more than four games remain in the collegiate careers of several players who could be drafted in the top 10 by a struggling NBA team in June. Both the Nets and, likely, the Knicks will miss the playoffs this year, but Brooklyn’s pick belongs to the Celtics.
For any Knicks fans already thinking ahead to next season and beyond, here’s a look at five freshmen playing this week who could be in the team’s draft plans in a few months.
At 6-6, the UCLA point guard has great size and athleticism for the position. With Phil Jackson’s insistence on running the triangle offense, it’s unclear how the 19-year-old would fit in that scheme. Still, he’s a potential stat-crazy superstar who likely is selected No. 1 or 2 overall.
On the court, the Kansas swingman has the skills of a top-three pick. Off it, the 20-year-old Jackson has found himself embroiled in legal trouble that has threatened to overshadow his talent. If given the chance, questions will swirl about whether the Jayhawks’ star can handle playing in New York.
One of two potential lottery picks for Kentucky, Fox is on the small side for a modern NBA point guard at 6-3, 175 pounds. The 19-year-old could be a better triangle-minded point guard than Ball, but won’t be quite as NBA-ready from Day 1.
The Knicks currently are in the latter half of the top 10, which puts them in the range of Arizona’s versatile 7-footer from Finland. Kristaps Porzingis presence at the Garden could make Markkanen, 19, redundant. Or, it could allow for lineup flexibility.
Kentucky’s other top prospect has made his mark as a fringe top-10 pick. But at 6-3, he’s on the short side for an NBA shooting guard. Still, the 19-year-old could be worth a look as potential instant-offense sixth man with upper-level long-range shooting capabilities.