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REPORT: Draft prospect Isaac Okoro gaining attention in New York’s mind

Knicks, Isaac Okoro

The New York Knicks enter the 2021 NBA season with the third longest active playoff drought in the league at seven years. Now, the pressure is on for them to have a strong offseason to put the team back to relevance.

Of course, that starts with their draft, as they own the eighth overall selection.

For what it’s worth, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl spoke about how inquisitive the Knicks were about potential lottery pick Isaac Okoro during his interview with SNY.

“They’ve talked to strength coaches, trainers, assistant coaches – they’ve done their homework. And they’ve liked Isaac from the jump,” he said.

Okoro is a strong defensive player who uses his size and speed to guard multiple positions. This defensive versatility could really help the Knicks slow down opposing wing players. Newly appointed coach Tom Thibodeau is known for his strict defensive system, so selecting Okoro at No. 8 makes sense.

The 19-year-old swingman does have the potential to be an impact player in the NBA, and it is worth noting that the Knicks drafted RJ Barrett last year. RJ and Okoro do have different skill sets and could complement each other nicely.

Okoro thrives on the defensive end and is an off-ball player on offense. Barrett, who is more offensive minded, is more effective when the ball is in his hands and he can create a play. Drafting Okoro could mean the Knicks are looking to move Barrett to point guard and roll with an oversized back court.

Although the pick may sound appealing on paper, it doesn’t solve New York’s biggest issue on their roster: shooting. Neither Okoro nor Barrett are known to shoot the ball well. Barrett shot only 32 percent from deep in his first season with the Knicks and Okoro shot 28.6 percent from distance with Auburn last year.

The appeal to have a big, defensive, backcourt may lead the Knicks to drafting Okoro, but they may want to think about their 27th-ranked 3-point shooting before making such decisions.