Knicks zero in on James Bouknight at NBA draft combine

UConn sophomore combo guard James Bouknight met with Knicks brass this week at the draft combine in Chicago and made positive they knew he’s Brooklyn to the bone — price buying and selling up for.

Some mock drafts have elevated the 6-foot-5 Bouknight into the highest 10. However, his title has floated as excessive as No. 7 and as little as the late teenagers. The Knicks presently choose nineteenth, twenty first, thirty second and 58th.

The Knicks will look to package their picks and possibly can simply get into the late lottery. They’ve interviewed ahead Scottie Barnes in Chicago, and nobody expects him to fall decrease than No. 7.

Some league executives cautioned about giving an excessive amount of away in a transfer up, since there’s a consensus there’s lots of parity between Nos. 8 and 21.

“Being from New York, playing basketball growing up in New York, playing at the Garden, it would be a dream come true,” Bouknight mentioned Thursday on a Zoom name from Chicago. “I don’t even know how to explain that feeling. Going to New York would be fun — hit everyone up I grew up with. That would be like an accomplishment for me. I definitely told them I’m from New York. They kind of already knew.”

Knicks James Bouknight NBA draft combine
The Knicks interviewed UConn’s James Bouknight at the NBA draft combine.
Getty Images

Knicks president Leon Rose, in his first draft final November, chosen Brooklynite Obi Toppin at No. 8. The Knicks may use extra backcourt scoring and a playmaker. Despite a season of progress, 2019 lottery choose RJ Barrett was a disappointment in their five-game playoff ouster.

The bold-talking Bouknight, 20, mentioned playmaking and 3-point taking pictures are components with which he’ll shock the NBA. He averaged 18.7 factors final season however shot simply 29.6 p.c from 3-point vary. ESPN school basketball analyst Seth Greenberg instructed The Post final week Bouknight needs to be a Knicks goal in the event that they commerce up a number of notches.

Bouknight mentioned he’s listening to comparisons to Suns celebrity Devin Booker, a combo guard.

“I think it’s definitely part of my game that’s underrated,” Bouknight mentioned of his 3-point taking pictures. “And my playmaking ability. I just feel like the role I had at UConn, being that go-to-guy to go get the team a bucket when we need one, I sometimes took ill-advised, tough shots. That came with the role I had. I’m not worried at all about my 3-point shot. Like at all. I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people.”

The Knicks want a place to begin guard. Many of their backcourt wings are free brokers, together with beginning taking pictures guard Reggie Bullock and key reserve Alec Burks.

“I feel like the Knicks fit would be great — just another guard you can give the ball and ask him to get a basket,” Bouknight mentioned. “I actually really feel my playmaking skill is underrated. I really feel going to a crew the place I can showcase that a part of my recreation, I really feel I can do this for the Knicks.

“Watching the playoffs, you see you need that guy to give the ball, and he can just create a basket and make plays for others and be a go-to guy. I feel I can be that as a rookie. I feel I’m someone you can get the ball to and go get a basket.”

James Bouknight NBA draft combine
James Bouknight poses for a portrait at the NBA draft combine on June 23, 2021.
NBAE through Getty Images

Bouknight initially was a youth baseball star earlier than transitioning to basketball as a freshman at LaSalle Academy, which he led to the New York State Federation basketball title his junior 12 months.

“I was shortstop and pitcher,” Bouknight mentioned. “I got to high school as a freshman and tried something new. Growing up in my neighborhood, everyone played basketball. You didn’t see many baseball players. I said, ‘Let me try basketball,’ and it ended up OK.”

It would possibly flip into rather a lot higher than OK if the Knicks discover a method to draft one other homegrown star to gentle up the Garden amid their rebirth.

“A lot of people make the comparison I’m a Devin Booker-type player or Bradley Beal,” Bouknight mentioned. “I didn’t start playing basketball until so late. I really feel my game is so unique and creative in its own type of way. I know it sound cliché but I just want to be like James Bouknight.”

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