Q: Who are some names in that area who might be appealing to the Knicks. Fran Fraschilla: Chris Duarte from Oregon, a 6-foot-6 guard who’s really a baby Klay Thompson. He may be as ready as any player in this draft to play right away for a team, which would certainly appeal to Tom Thibodeau. … The only downside of Chris Duarte, he’ll be one of the oldest, if not the oldest player (24) taken in the first round. Another kid, depending on how he’s looked at from a medical standpoint, Jared Butler is a 6-3 point guard who is a great shooter, who is a playmaker, plays with toughness. That’s another kid who’s a 22-year-old junior who could come in and help the Knicks immediately, if they’re looking for the maturity, let’s say, of somebody that they can count on right away. Otherwise, you’re taking a project who may be a freshman or sophomore like an Isaiah Jackson from Kentucky who’s a not-yet 20-year-old 6-11 power forward-center who’s like a Nerlens Noel type.
Fran Fraschilla: So when you’re taking somebody in that range, what’s going to be there for you is the older veteran player who the rebuilding teams in the lottery are shying away from, or the kid that is still available and you say, “Listen, we just hope this kid’s going be a good player in 2-3 years.” That would be Isaiah Jackson of Kentucky. One more interesting name for the Knicks is Usman Garuba, who plays at Real Madrid. He’s a Spanish kid of Nigerian ancestry who at 18 and 19 years old the last couple of years, has played in the second-highest league in the world, and he handled himself well. He’s an OG Anunoby- type athletic and a defensive-minded 3-4 man.
Q: Who is one sleeper nobody is talking about who you’re high on? Fran Fraschilla: A kid that was off the radar coming into the year — because he was considered a failure at Kansas, then he transferred to Houston to play for Kelvin Sampson and help lead them to the Final Four — is Quentin Grimes. He’s going be taken somewhere in the late first round-to-early second, and he’s definitely going to play in the league because he’s 6-5, he’s a 2-guard, he can shoot, he plays with toughness, he looks the part. Some guys that were hiding in plain sight in November and December were Davion Mitchell, Kai Jones, Quentin Grimes, Jason Preston, but many of the mock-draft guys didn’t figure it out until March along with everyone else.
Two people who have played important roles behind the scenes for the Hawks are Larry Riley and Mike McNeive. Riley, once an assistant coach and scout for the Bucks, is a senior advisor to Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk. Before joining the Hawks, Riley played a major role in the enormous success of the Golden State Warriors as be drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while being the team’s general manager. McNeive, who worked as an advance scout and assistant coach for the Bucks during the George Karl regime, is the Hawks director of basketball operations.
And perhaps Stevens will place an emphasis on diversifying the Celtics’ scouting department, such as hiring the heavily-rumored Landry Fields, Atlanta’s current assistant general manager. “All teams are monitoring Landry Fields,” said the Western Conference executive, “because he’s going to get a real shot here to run his own team soon.”
To gauge who are the top international players, HoopsHype polled 15 NBA talent evaluators, including 10executives and five scouts. Each talent evaluator was asked to list his top five international players. The criteria included any player pro player not in the NBA right now. Some of the talent evaluators prioritized former NBA players and older veterans who are having an immediate impact on their team overseas. Others placed a higher value on younger prospects who are likely to come to the NBA in upcoming drafts. 1. Nikola Mirotic (Barcelona): The 30-year-old forward is shooting an astounding 59.7 percent from the field and 47.2 percent from beyond the arc while scoring 15.9 points per game. “He’s the guy that’s been most productive in the NBA, and someone you can put in an NBA game right now if you had to,” one NBA executive told HoopsHype.