Just like we all thought, the Knicks did not get the top pick in the NBA Draft during last night’s NBA Draft Lottery. At least, I thought that we were all thinking that. It turns out that a bunch of delusional fans thought that the most cursed New York team would overcome the overwhelming odds and cash in for once. The way grown men reacted with devastating sadness, it was like the Knicks had an 86 percent chance to win the lottery. No, that was the chance they had to miss out, which unsurprisingly was what actually happened.
The Knicks ended up with the third pick, which is okay when you compare it to the Cavaliers and Suns. Both of those teams also had a 14 percent shot at Zion Williamson, and they ended up with the fifth and sixth slots, respectively. So it could have been worse for New York, but it seems like most fans were in Zion-or-bust mode.
I wonder what the reaction would have been if the Knicks landed the second pick. I’m a big Ja Morant fan and think that the Murray State product can be the next Russell Westbrook. He might even be better than Williamson if the chips fall a certain way. I’d still pick Zion at No. 1, but Morant should be considered more valuable than just a consolation prize.
Maybe the same can be said for RJ Barrett, the Canadian slasher that the Knicks will probably end up drafting. Just a year ago he was considered the top amateur player in the country. That was before Williamson electrified the college hoops world and Morant turned into the breakout star of the year. It’s not like Barrett was bad, though.
At Duke last season, Barrett equaled Williamson with 22.6 points per game while grabbing 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. According to the KenPom numbers, Barrett controlled more possessions than his more famous teammate. Barrett might not have been as flashy or efficient, but with Williamson on the finishing end of all those dunks and alley-oops, it was Barrett taking more difficult shots and setting up his teammates more often.
In other words, Barrett was more often than not the guy the Duke offense ran through. He doesn’t have the physical advantages than Zion has, and Barrett’s jump shot needs some serious polishing, but it’s not like he did anything during the college basketball season to disparage his status as an elite prospect. Zion and Morant just shined a little brighter.
Barrett doesn’t have the same upside as the two players ranked above him, but it will be easier for Knicks fans to talk themselves into him than it is for Giants fan to talk themselves into Daniel Jones. That’s something I might be struggling with for the next several years.
In better news, the Mets are back to .500
The orange and blue crew pounced on Washington starter Jeremy Hellickson early, taking advantage of a botched double play that should have ended the first inning and getting a grand slam from Wilson Ramos. Buffalo Boy hasn’t been great so far, but his ability to hit line drives to all field should make him a net positive.
That was all the Mets needed on offense thanks to Noah Syndergaard. He let his stuff do the talking last night and let the Nationals get themselves out. The aggressive approach led to just six strikeouts, but Syndergaard lasted eight innings and only threw 102 pitches.
Dominic Smith pinch hit for a home run that capped off the 6-2 victory. It’s only a matter of time before the Mets have to consider moving Jeff McNeil to the infield in order to get Smith some playing time in left field. With Jed Lowrie having recently suffered a setback in his return from a hamstring injury, McNeil at third base looks like a great way for the Mets to optimize their lineup while keeping Robinson Cano in the starting lineup. It’d be nice if the albatross didn’t hit .252/.305/.385 all season, but he’s striking out in 20 percent of his plate appearances, which is something he hasn’t come close to doing over a full year during his long career.
But I’m going to be negative on Cano by default. I never liked the trade that brought him here, and if Lowrie was healthy and hitting, the team might be better off with the future Hall of Fame second baseman on the bench right now. That’s a scary thought, but like I said, he needs a little more time. Benching Cano after trading away a first-round draft pick would be a public relations disaster, and I’m sure the Mets don’t feel like leaping into it unless they have to.
Wednesday night’s game against Washington will be a little tougher since the Nats are sending Patrick Corbin to the hill and the Mets have Wilmer Font. The recent acquisition did a good job peppering the strike zone during his start last week in San Diego, but he only lasted four innings and allowed two runs. It was Font’s first start of the season, and we’re not expecting anything from him, so we’ll cut him some slack for now. Maybe he’ll do enough to keep the Mets competitive tonight as they shoot for their fourth straight victory. During two early-season starts against the Mets, Corbin pitched a total of 12 innings and allowed five runs, so the boys have been able to get to him a little bit.