2018 NBA Draft: Could Trae Young fall to the New York Knicks?

Recent rumors suggested mutual interest between the New York Knicks and former Oklahoma Sooners star Trae Young. Could Young be available for the Knicks at No. 9 in the 2018 NBA Draft?

Trae Young has ridden a roller coaster of a college career. After winning over fans and national media pundits with absurd scoring outputs, the second half of his season was plagued with losses and inconsistency.

His decline in production during the back end of the 2017-18 season led to a plummet on draft boards, as he had once been considered a potential top-three pick. 

A talented playmaker and an excellent shooter, Young could potentially accelerate the New York Knicks’ rebuild with his Curry-like game. Unfortunately for New York, this uncommon set of skills is likely to be desired by clubs currently on similar timelines who hold higher draft picks. 

Due to both fit and relative talent, Young is unlikely to be selected among the top five picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. With the value of larger players who possess guard-like skill sets skyrocketing, Young will likely be overlooked until the Orlando Magic are on the clock.

This leaves three teams between Young and the Knicks.

Orlando Magic 

The Magic have been attempting to escape irrelevance since the days of Superman. A need for a point guard, as well as the opportunity to attract national media, may take Young off the board when Orlando drafts with the sixth overall selection.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are not lacking the relevance of Orlando, and are not necessarily missing a point guard to head their rebuild, as Kris Dunn took significant leaps in his game during his first season in Chicago.

Yet, while Young may not seem like the roster fit the Bulls are searching for, the team ranked in the bottom third of the league in three-point percentage last season and may prefer a guard who excels at perimeter shooting to complement Dunn’s lack of a developed jump shot.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers are searching for ways to convince LeBron James to return next season. The Cavs have experienced a steady decline in George Hill’s production, and the team’s overall guard play lacks consistency.

If Young lands in Cleveland, he could immediately be slotted in as a starter. Even if his arrival is not persuasive enough for James, he would instantly become the face of the franchise.

Young fits all potential requirements of the team’s checklist, as a roster need and a potential boost to the city’s economy.

So Is There A Chance?

Trae Young falling to the Knicks at No. 9 overall is contingent on the selections of Orlando and Cleveland. It could happen if both squads decide to draft wing players, such as the draft class’ pair of highly touted Bridges.

It could also transpire if one team chooses a wing, and the other decides to fill their guard needs with former Alabama star Collin Sexton. 

An alternate, more aggressive approach, could come in trading up for a higher draft selection. With rumors of both the Suns and Grizzlies picks being available via trade, it’s possible the Knicks could strike a deal to avoid Young being taken before the team drafts.

While the first and fourth picks may seem enticing, a deal may be too costly, as it would require a drain of the Knicks’ other young assets. 

Is He Worth It?

In a draft class loaded with talent among the projected top-five prospects, it’s likely some high ceiling players who may have generated earlier looks under different circumstances will fall to the back end of the lottery.

While Young may end up booking a post-draft flight to Disney World, this year’s pool of prospects is deep enough that the Knicks will likely be given an opportunity to add a difference maker to insert next to Kristaps Porzingis for years to come. 

Recent franchise history would lead one to believe the Knicks will squander this opportunity. Unfortunately, due to the team’s previous failures, whoever the team selects will be immediately chained to unrealistic expectations.

A key question with Young is that while he may be worthy of drafting solely on his potential, the New York spotlight will undoubtedly shine on him brighter than other prospects.

As a player who won over America with a game that relies on limitless range and dazzling dribble moves, the Knicks must determine if Young is mentally capable of handling the constant attention and scrutiny his flashy skills are bound to receive.

If he is, then Trae Young could be an attractive option for the New York Knicks at the 2018 NBA Draft.