The New York Knicks are doing pretty well at the moment, but just as impressive as their play so far in the 2023-24 campaign is the fact that they are well-positioned for the future, too. New York might not own a stash of draft picks like that of Oklahoma City, but they are the proud owners of a few valuable first-round picks, including the Milwaukee Bucks 2025 first-rounder.
Specifically, the 2024 NBA Draft should be particularly exciting for New York. The Knicks can make as many as four first round picks, which is unprecedented for a team whose previous front office regimes were very willing to trade their first-round picks.
No prospect has had enough time to generate major buzz as of late December. But rest assured, there will inevitably be massive hype around at least a few prospects. The Knicks’ chances of drafting one or more of those highly-touted players, or using those picks in a trade, look pretty darn good right now.
So, how did a team so closely aligned with trading away first-round picks turn the tables? Let’s explore how this change-of-heart happened, while also looking at how many 2024 first-round picks New York has collected and the likelihood of each pick conveying to the Knicks.
Leon Rose ushered in a new era for the Knicks
The first major change took place when Leon Rose was hired as the Knicks president back in 2020. Rose and the Knicks followed the lead set by the Los Angeles Lakers when they hired Rob Pelinka. Pelinka, like Rose, was a sports agent and president of his agency before jumping to a front-office position.
Rose clearly values building organically through the draft. Since becoming team president, Rose has amassed a number of future first-round picks, and has no future first-round debt just yet. That could change if the Knicks finally engineer a trade for a long-sought superstar.
Specifically, Rose and the Knicks have collected three 2024 first-round picks in addition to their own. Those picks are owned by the Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, and Washington Wizards, so let’s take a closer look at these picks and how the Knicks can end up with them in the 2024 NBA Draft.
Knicks pick from the Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks pick is the oldest of the three potential first rounders the Knicks could add in the upcoming draft. It was added in 2019 as part of the deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis from New York to Dallas. This pick is still technically top-10 protected; however, with Dallas currently sporting an 18-13 record, it looks likely to convey. If it doesn’t it carries over to the 2025 NBA Draft.
Takeaway: This one can be relatively valuable given that it will almost certainly convey. If the season ended today, it would be somewhere in the 20-22 overall pick range — far from an asset around which an entire deal is built, but it can certainly move the needle in discussions, especially for teams hoping to add cheap, young talent.
Knicks pick from the Washington Wizards
The Wizards pick has changed hands a number of times. The pick was originally traded from Washington to the Houston Rockets as part of the Russell Westbrook trade, before it ended up with Oklahoma City, and then finally New York.
Prior to trading Porzingis to the Boston Celtics, it looked like the Wizards might not be too bad this season. Since then, we’ve seen just how bad the Wizards are, as they currently have a 5-25 record, which is the third worst in the entire league. That kind of a record should make Washington’s front office feel very secure about their chances of hanging onto this pick.
If Washington’s 2024 pick doesn’t convey, it becomes a top-10 protected pick in 2025. If it doesn’t convey in 2025, it becomes a top-eight protected pick in 2026. And if it doesn’t convey by then, it becomes two second-round picks.
Takeaway: This one is obviously less valuable, especially considering how bad the Wizards have been this season.
Knicks pick from the Detroit Pistons
This pick was included in a 2023 draft day trade that sent Kemba Walker to Detroit along with New York’s 2023 first-rounder, which was used by Detroit to select Jalen Duren.
This Pistons 2024 pick is top-18 protected. If it does not convey, it becomes top-13 protected in 2025, top-11 protected in 2026, and top-nine protected in 2027.
The Pistons are a measly 2-28, meaning this pick is all-but-certain to remain in Detroit’s possession in 2024. But there is more hope around this one than Washington’s pick given Detroit’s young core. They have Cade Cunningham, the 2022 first-overall pick, along with a number of recent high-end lottery picks. That has to translate to wins at some point, right? Remember, there are still three whole seasons after this one for Detroit to gel (and send a valuable pick to New York).
The Thunder will host the Knicks for a heated Tuesday battle
Takeaway: This one is easily the most interesting of the Knicks’ 2024 first-round picks, but not for its potential in 2024. This pick could be seen very differently a year or so from today.
Knicks own first round pick
Given the Knicks’ recent history with first-rounders, it is worth mentioning that the Knicks own their own 2024 first-round pick, too. The Knicks are currently 17-13, good for 13th in the entire NBA. The 13th best-team receives the 18th pick in the draft, which has yielded some good players in the recent past. It resulted in Tre Mann in 2021 and Lonnie Walker IV in 2018, either of whom could play a role for this Knicks team.
How should the Knicks use these picks?
Ultimately, the Knicks don’t need to add youth. Affordability is always a welcomed attribute, as is the athleticism that usually goes along with youth. But even more important than cheap and athletic players is the idea of picks as assets.
As we’ve seen in recent blockbuster trades, most involve a number of first-round picks changing hands. The Donovan Mitchell-Utah Jazz-Cleveland Cavaliers trade involved three unprotected firsts and two pick swaps. The Kevin Durant-Brooklyn Nets-Phoenix Suns trade involved four first rounders and one pick swap. Even the Damian Lillard-Portland Trailblazers-Milwaukee Bucks trade involved an unprotected first-rounder and two pick swaps (along with Jrue Holiday and others.)
Long story short, first-round picks are a necessary part of any blockbuster trade. So, the four Knicks’ first-rounders could all come in handy, especially if a desirable superstar becomes available. Until then, stay tuned.