Ranking four potential targets for the Knicks at No. 8

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When the Knicks select at No. 8 in the 2020 NBA Draft, they will have a choice between a number of wings. Here are four players that could be on the Knicks’ board and how they compare to one another in a number of different areas.

Deni Avdija: 6’9, 215 pounds, Isreali League, 19 years old

Isaac Okoro: 6’6, 225 pounds, Auburn, 19 years old

Devin Vassell: 6’7, 194 pounds, Florida State, 19 years old

Patrick Williams: 6’8, 225 pounds, Florida State, 18 years old

Shooting

1.      Devin Vassell is a legitimate floor-spreader, converting 41.7 percent of this three point shots over two years at Florida. There are only two red flags with his shooting: funky release (a recent video with footage of it was recently removed from social media), and more pressing, he only averaged 3.5 three-point attempts per game in his sophomore season. Recent analytics have shown that three-point volume is important in predicting success in the NBA.

2.       Deni Avdija has flashed shooting potential, especially off the dribble, but he hasn’t consistently made shots from behind the arc or at the free throw line. In his last season in Israel, he shot 35 percent from behind the arc, but only 59 percent from the free throw line. The free throw percentage is a real red flag.

3.       Patrick Williams only took 1.7 three-point attempts per game and made 32 percent of them. He did shoot 84 percent from the free throw line. He is a developing shooter but there are signs he can continue to develop in this area.

4.       Isaac Okoro shot only 29 percent from three (2.5 attempts per game) and 67 percent from the free throw line. His mechanics probably need a lot of work if he wants to develop into someone that must be respected from range.

Playmaking

1.       Deni Avdija has the passing ability of a point guard and was often used as an offensive initiator as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He is a high-level passer.

2.       Isaac Okoro has flashed good court vision and decision-making but he was not asked to be the engine of Auburn’s offense much. He has potential here.

3.       Devin Vassell, like Okoro, was not his team’s primary initiator, but he did show the ability to find the open teammate and make a variety of passes.

4.       Like the rest of Patrick Williams’ game, he is raw as a playmaker but flashes potential. His immediate role in the league will be as a finisher going to the basket.

Penetration

1.      Isaac Okoro often got to the basket on cuts, but his finishing ability is what put his him on top of this list. He is excellent at finishing in a variety of ways and often plays above the rim. He needs to work on penetrating as a primary ball-handler.

2.       Deni Avdija does not play above the rim like the other players on this list, but he has a good first step and can finish with creativity and through contact at the rim. If he plays power forward in the NBA, bigger players will have trouble stating in front of him.

3.       If this was purely a finishing category, Patrick Williams would be at the top of the list. He finishes with strength and authority above the rim as an efficient cutter. He has potential to develop an off-the-dribble game.

4.       Devin Vassell is not the quickest player to break down opponents off the dribble and turn the corner, but his length and jumping ability make him tough to contest.

On-Ball Defense

1.       Isaac Okoro has the size, speed, and strength to guard the best player on the other team if he plays anywhere between point guard and power forward. There’s little he can’t do.

2.       Devin Vassell is just a smidge underneath Okoro, because he isn’t as quick hanging with faster players. His 6’10 wingspan, however, gives him excellent ability to contest shots.

3.       Patrick Williams is more apt to guard wings and guards, but his raw athleticism gives him a lot of defensive potential.

4.       Deni Avdija is the worst athlete of the group, so it is not a surprise that he is last on this list, but he is a not huge liability defensively, even if he is not a defensive stopper.

Off-Ball Defense

1.       Devin Vassell is a borderline genius with his off-ball defense, often making excellent reads to play the passing lanes and get steals. He makes all the right defensive rotations and even blocks some shots.

2.       You can flip a coin between Patrick Williams and Okoro, but Williams’ shot-blocking ability as a rim protector gives him the edge.  

3.       Isaac Okoro is an excellent team defender, making many of the right reads and decisions off the ball, even if he doesn’t do it at the level of Vassell.

4.       This is a tough group for Deni Avdija to compare to. He comes in last here, but he is actually a good team defender and knows what he is doing on that side of the court.

Athletic/Body Type Upside

1.       Patrick Williams has the size of a power forward but the athleticism of a wing. He has the strength to bang inside but should also be able to guard the Kawhi Leonard-type wings. He is raw but his tools might get him into the top twelve of the draft.

2.       Isaac Okoro has the prototypical combination of wing size, quickness, leaping ability, and strength. He isn’t an A+ athlete but he is certainly above average.

3.       Length is the name of the game for Devin Vassell, but he doesn’t have the quickness to ever be a player that can take someone off the dribble.

4.       I honestly thought about putting Deni Avdija ahead of Vassell here because of his quickness for a player that is big enough to play power forward. But, legitimate worries about his ability to guard quicker wings lands him in last place.

Overall Rankings

1.       Deni Avdija: His combination of smarts, passing, and a developing shot makes him a very safe bet to be a contributing NBA player for a long time. He will not be a liability defensively, especially if he can rebound enough to play power forward. I’m buying his jumper. If you don’t he will be ranked third in this group. The odds he is there for the Knicks are slim.

2.       Isaac Okoro: His shooting is the only thing I’m worried about, but it is a very big worry. It is hard to be a very good NBA player if you can’t shoot. If it can become even NBA average he has all the other tools to develop into an All-Star level player. It’s a 50/50 coin flip at best that he is there for the Knicks at No. 8.

3.       Devin Vassell: He is the best shooter and probably the best defender of the group, making him a very safe pick. His low volume of three-point shots doesn’t worry me that much, but his lack of upside due to his athleticism keeps him third in this group. If the Knicks wind up with Vassell, Okoro, or Avdija at eighth overall, fans should be happy.

4.       Patrick Williams: He might have the best upside of this group, given his physical and athletic tools, but he is so raw offensively that he lands fourth in this group. There is a chance that he is the best player of this group in five years.

Check out the latest episode of my Knicks Podcast, The Bank Shot, where I talk to Harvey Araton about the Knicks and his new book “Our Last Season." You can check out the archives here and subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

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