Nate Wolters, No. 24 (Mock Draft)
The Knicks pick a versatile PG with a strong offensive prowess.
by Peter Walsh
For the realists, the ’12-13 Knicks had a wildly successful season. As a team, the Knicks accomplished 44 wins (most since ’96-97), an Atlantic Division championship (first since the ’93-94 season), the most three-pointers attempted and made in NBA history, and a trip to the second round of the Playoffs (first time since 2000). Individually, JR Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award, and Melo earned the scoring title while finishing third in MVP voting.
For the excitable Knick fan, though, the season was a complete and utter disaster. Despite all those wonderful accomplishments and accolades, the season ended on a sour note with an early exit at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers exposed the Knicks weaknesses up front and overpowered them with gritty played that stymied the Knicks finesse style that had carried them through the regular season.
The Knicks were built to win immediately and didn’t. The franchise took a step in the right direction, and will certainly be looking to build on their success, but the window for a championship is closing fast. As of today, the Knicks roster looks like this: Melo, STAT, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, and Steve Novak. That leaves them with just one player under the age of 28 (Shump), two guys who barely played last season (STAT and Camby), no backup point guard, and very little cap flexibility due to the enormous paychecks Melo, STAT, and Tyson Chandler are cashing out on.
New York needs a player that can step in and contribute right away. It’s no secret that Mike Woodson has a distaste for playing rookies–unless they are already in their 30′s–so the idea of the Knicks drafting a young player and investing in a project who will need some time to get his feet wet is out of the question. As much as New York needs a big man in the rotation, they also need another scoring option and someone who can handle the rock and feed the Knicks’ stars.
With all that brought into consideration, the New York Knicks will look outside the bustling concrete jungle of Manhattan and to the plains of South Dakota for the remedy….
With the 24th pick in the 2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the New York Knicks select…
Nate Wolters from South Dakota State.
This pick came down to Wolters and either Mike Muscala, the very talented center from Bucknell, French import Rudy Gobert, or Kansas center Jeff Withey. After the beating the frontcourt combination of David West and Roy Hibbert put on the Knicks, it’s clear that New York needs help up front if they hope to take the next step in their quest for championship glory. After looking around the NBA and the center position on each roster, my interest was piqued as to where these players were selected and how successful they were in their rookie year.
Here is the list of centers who have been selected in the past five Drafts and have attained some degree of success (starter, sixth man, impact player, etc…). Along with where they were selected, their rookie year stats, awards won and All-Star appearances:
Al Horford (#3) 31.4 min / 10.1 points / 9.7 boards / 0.9 blocks / 49% shooting / 2x NBA All-Star
Joakim Noah (#9) 20.7 min / 6.6 points / 5.6 boards / 0.9 blocks / 48 percent shooting / 1x NBA All-Star / 1x NBA All-Defensive First Team
Spencer Hawes (#10) 13.1 min / 4.7 points / 3.2 boards / 0.6 blocks / 45% shooting
Brook Lopez (#10) 30.5 min / 13.0 points / 8.1 boards / 1.8 blocks / 53% shooting (career-high) / 1x NBA All-Star
Roy Hibbert (#17) 14.4 min / 7.1 points / 3.5 boards / 1.1 blocks / 47% shooting / 1x NBA All-Star
Javale McGee (#18) 15.2 min / 6.5 points / 3.9 boards / 1.0 blocks / 49% shooting
Serge Ibaka (#24) 18.1 min / 6.3 points / 5.4 boards / 1.3 blocks / 54% shooting / 2x NBA Blocks leader
DeAndre Jordan (#35) 14.5 min / 4.3 points / 4.5 boards / 1.1 blocks / 63% shooting
Omer Asik (#36) 12.1min / 2.8 points / 3.7 boards / .7 blocks / 55% shooting (career-high)
BJ Mullens (#24) 4.2 min / 1.1 points / .8 boards / 0 blocks / 36% shooting
DeMarcus Cousins (#5) 28.5 min / 14.1 points / 8.6 boards / .8 blocks / 43% shooting
Greg Monroe (#7) 27.8 min / 9.4 points / 7.5 boards / .6 blocks / 55% shooting
Larry Sanders (#15) 14.5 min / 4.3 points / 3.0 boards / 1.2 blocks / 43% shooting
Nikola Vucevic (#16) 15.9 min / 5.5 points / 4.8 boards / .7 blocks / 45% shooting
Anthony Davis (#1) 28.8 min / 13.5 points / 8.2 boards / 1.8 blocks / 51% shooting
Andre Drummond (#9) 20.7 min / 7.9 points / 7.8 boards / 1.6 blocks / 60% shooting
The collective rookie year averages for these 16 players were: 19.4 min / 7.3 points / 5.5 boards / 1 block / 49% shooting, decent numbers for a rook but nothing that will blow you away. Out of these players, only five were selected at No. 24 or lower, and not one selected that low made a sizable impact in their first year. The risk of drafting a center this low in the first round is too high for a team that isn’t in rebuilding mode.
The Knicks will look for a versatile player who can fill their need for both a scoring option and a capable backup point guard. With Wolters, the Knicks will get a 22-year-old, 6-5 point guard who excels with the ball in his hands. A kid with his size and skill set that averaged 22.3 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.8 dimes, 5.6 boards, and 1.7 steals his senior year would normally be a lock for the lottery. But since he played against lesser competition in the Summit League, Wolters will drop into the latter half of the first round and possibly even into the second where the Knicks will have the opportunity to scoop him up.
While the competition argument is certainly a strong one, it’s impossible to ignore the numbers and big games he had during his college days. In February of this year, he dropped 53 points in 40 minutes on 17-28 shooting. I don’t care what level it is, if you can drop 53 in 40 minutes, you can ball. Against the University of Washington and the future NBA backcourt of Terence Ross and Tony Wroten, he put up 34 points, 5 boards and 7 assists and led the Jack Rabbits to a 92-73 win. He is also the only player in NCAA history to average at least 20 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in two separate seasons.
Wolters is at his best when he is running the pick and roll, which the Knicks seem to run every time down the floor. During his senior year, Wolters had the ball in his hands in either an isolation or pick and roll set 60 percent of the time (per DraftXpress), so it shouldn’t be a huge transition for him schematically to the L. Coming off the pick, Wolters has a crafty arsenal of moves. He will drive to the rack and get to the line (he hit his free throws at an 82 percent clip last year), pull up, hit the floater, or make the right pass. Wolters’ knack for making the right play was shown through his Summit League leading 32.0 PER (sixth best in the nation while his career average of 28.1 is good enough for 19th in NCAA history). Wolters can also shift to the shooting guard position and still be effective thanks to his strong jumper (he shot 47 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers last season) and size.
The knock on Wolters is his average athleticism and poor defense. He isn’t the fastest or the strongest, nor does he move great laterally, all of which will hurt him defensively. What he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with smarts, feel, and effort; factors that led to 192 steals over his four-year college career. While he will struggle guarding the Derrick Roses and Russell Westbrooks of the NBA throughout his career, you can’t deny his offensive prowess. The Knicks need a big man, it’s a point guard’s league and the team has a chance to steal at the very least, a solid backup who’s ready to contribute right away.
|2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|1||Cavs||Otto Porter||16||Celtics||Mason Plumee|
|2||Magic||Nerlens Noel||17||Hawks||Lucas Nogueira|
|3||Wizards||Anthony Bennett||18||Hawks||Tony Mitchell|
|4||Bobcats||Ben McLemore||19||Cavs||Sergey Karasev|
|5||Suns||Victor Oladipo||20||Bulls||Gorgui Dieng|
|6||Pelicans||Trey Burke||21||Jazz||Ricky Ledo|
|7||Kings||CJ McCollum||22||Nets||Dennis Schroeder|
|8||Pistons||Michael Carter-Williams||23||Pacers||Reggie Bullock|
|9||TWolves||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||24||Knicks||Nate Wolters|