Potential Knicks NBA Draft fits as they weigh trading up

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The NBA’s Draft Lottery is a week away and, for once, the Knicks aren’t fretting over pingpong balls.

Instead, Knicks president Leon Rose is setting his lasers on what it will take to get up into late-lottery position as the full draft order gets set Tuesday.

As it stands in the July 29 draft, the Knicks have two first-round picks at Nos. 19 and 21 along with the No. 32 overall pick.

There’s talk inside the organization of packaging their two first-rounders to move up. The feeling around the NBA is the Knicks could possibly get to the No. 12-to-13 range by doing so.  

If the Knicks stand pat at 19 or move up slightly, Seth Greenberg, ESPN’s college-basketball guru, has got a couple of guys for the Knicks.

One is in their backyard – UConn sophomore 6-5 combo guard James Bouknight, a Brooklyn native who played part of his high school career at Manhattan’s LaSalle Academy. The other is out of the Pacific Northwest – Oregon 3-point shooting machine Chris Duarte.

Greenberg compares Bouknight to Spencer Dinwiddie, the current Nets scoring guard who could become a free agent.

It should be noted that months before the 2020 draft, Greenberg, a Long Island native and former Virginia Tech coach, touted point guard Tyrese Haliburton as the perfect fit for the Knicks at 8. (They passed to take little-used power forward Obi Toppin).

“If the Knicks have a shot at Bouknight, I think he’s going to be a really good pro,” Greenberg told The Post. “He’s got size, ball skills, creates separation. He’s got different ways to finish and has positional size and length. He didn’t shoot a great percentage from 3 but I think he’s a good enough 3-point shooter with a nice release.”

Bouknight, 20, has started to climb in mock drafts from the No. 19 range to the late lottery. After watching the Knicks offense die vs. the Hawks in a five-game wipeout, Greenberg believes Bouknight can juice the attack as a rookie.

“He’s a Spencer Dinwiddie,” Greenberg said. “The Knicks need a shot-maker. You can’t be successful against the box [the Hawks] did against [Julius] Randle. You got to have someone where the ball goes swing-swing and someone’s going to jump up and make a shot and that’s never going to be RJ Barrett. He’s a nice piece, but that’s not who he is.”

At UConn, Bouknight averaged 18.7 points. He shot 44.7 percent from the field but just 29.3 percent from 3-point land. He also averaged 5.7 rebounds for the Huskies.

“They need another ball guard,” Greenberg said. “He was a little inconsistent with his outside shooting but he’ll get better at it. I think he can move up when he starts working out for teams. He does s–t that’s crazy. For Tom Thibodeau, he can play off the ball because he’s really good at reading screens. Like really good.”

Another guy Greenberg has on his radar is Oregon’s 6-6 senior shooting guard Duarte.

He’s interesting because he’s already 24, but a knockdown deep shooter, which is premium in this NBA. Duarte averaged 17.1 points — 42.4 percent from 3-point land — for the Ducks.

Greenberg said he’s “intrigued” by Duarte.

“He can create a shot and make a shot,” Greenberg said. “He’s a shot-maker.”

The Knicks may have to move up a bit for Duarte, too. If they stand pat in the Nos. 19 and 21 spots, Greenberg could see them going with Kentucky 6-10 big man Isaiah Jackson.

It’s well-documented the Knicks have a pipeline to Lexington and John Calipari with Rose, senior VP William Wesley and former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne. Greenberg says Jackson is “like a better Marcus Camby.”

While the 2021 draft is billed for its Big 5 (Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley), Greenberg feels that top shelf is overrated.

Instead, he’s “a big fan” of Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell, but it will be very tough for the Knicks to rise into the 5-to-10 range. Greenberg said Mitchell is a combination of Kyle Lowry and Kemba Walker.

“He’s got a toughness about him and doesn’t back down from s–t,” Greenberg said.

Haliburton’s smooth rookie season at point guard in Sacramento was bitter for a Knicks club aching for a playmaker. Greenberg said he figured Haliburton “was ready to play in that league because of his IQ, feel, vision and character.”

Toppin, who averaged just four points in 11 minutes, may not amount to more than a bench player, in Greenberg’s estimation.

“Obi is a prospect,” Greenberg said. “Problem is an old prospect but I don’t think that’s a big thing. He’s got good energy, runs the floor. I thought he’d shoot it better. He’s a very good passer but didn’t show that ability. I’m not sure he has a position. I don’t think physically he can be a smallball 5. He doesn’t have great lateral quickness. He’s a sprinter, a rim runner. I think he’ll be a solid player and be in the league a while but never be an impactful player. He looked a little more confident shooting the ball in the playoffs, but he’s an if.”

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