As I wrote in my story, I don’t believe that the Knicks got their man tonight. I think they wanted Stephen Curry badly. Not to say that they hate Jordan Hill. I think Donnie Walsh was being half honest when he said he couldn’t lose with either of them. But if given a choice I believe he and D’Antoni would have taken Curry in a heartbeat.
Even if they were equally talented, Curry fits a need more than Hill. The Knicks need a ballhandler. The Knicks need shooting. Curry provides those.
Hill is a good rebounder, but they already have one in David Lee. In fact Lee is one of the best in the league. Hill can run the floor and beat other big men down the court. But Lee does that too. So does Al Harrington. Hill can shoot and pull those centers and forwards away from the basket. But Harrington and Danilo Gallinari do that.
The one thing Hill does that isn’t duplicated by anyone on the roster is block shots. Wilson Chandler was basically their best shot blocker last year. Being a small forward, though, he’s not usually in position to be a help defender. So Hill definitely fills a need there. Except that during the draft the Knicks completed a deal for Darko Milicic, who has few skills but can block shots. So suddenly Hill is duplicating that too.
Of course it’s not always a bad thing to double up on assets. Having two rebounders or two shot blockers can make you really good. The problem is that the Knicks aren’t good enough to afford luxuries. There are too many things they don’t do well to start doubling up things they do do well. They still can’t shoot 3s well enough. In fact it’s worse now that they traded Q-Rich, who couldn’t do much but could shoot 3s. They still don’t have a starting-quality point guard. They still don’t play perimeter defense. They still don’t have an offensive threat in the low post.
Personally I would have looked into filling those holes before I took a guy like Hill.
In Walsh’s defense, the elite guys were gone. Flynn, Rubio, Curry—guys they really could have used—were off the board. So there was no obvious name that they passed up. I would have looked into Brandon Jennings, Gerald Henderson, or even Ty Lawson at that point.
One more note on Hill. Although he was considered a top-10 pick by most analysts, ESPN’s John Hollinger had Hill rated low. Hollinger uses a computation called the Draft Rater that analyzes college numbers to predict pro performance. According to the Rater, Hill was only the 26th best college player in the draft. And that doesn’t include foreign players. It’s not a foolproff metric but it’s something to worry about.
As for Toney Douglas at No. 29, Walsh seemed really high on him. He said he made the trade with the Lakers specifically with Douglas in mind. Douglas’s agent, David Falk, was calling him every few minutes trying to get them together. Walsh admitted that if Douglas hadn’t been there, he would have dealt away the pick for a future first-rounder. He already had a trading partner.
Admittedly I don’t know a ton about Douglas. Florida State basketball isn’t exactly on automatic TiVo in my house. But he seems like a solid choice at the end of the first round. How often do you get a 21-point scorer who’s the best defender in the best conference in basketball? He was the runner-up to Ty Lawson for conference player of the year too.
If you get anything out of a No. 29, if he’s even your eighth man, you’ve done well. If he plays good perimeter defense he’ll play. The team needs that. They need a guy who can guard 1s and 2s. Larry Hughes is the only guy who can do that and he may not be on the roster all year.
Along with the Darko trade, the selection of Hill makes David Lee more expendable. I think there’s a much better chance he won’t be here next year than there was this morning. Nate Robinson, by contrast, is still needed. As long as he doesn’t demand too much money, he has a greater chance of returning.