The New York Knicks have the third overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, which is set to be a major piece of their rebuild plans this summer. Whether that's through drafting R.J. Barrett or trading the pick is still in the air, but the impending free agency and Anthony Davis situation are poised to have an impact on the front office's decision.
Whichever direction the Knicks go in, if there's an incoming rookie in the fold he'll have to be ready to slide into a role for what could be a Playoffs team. Here are the most NBA-ready prospects the Knicks can target in this year's Draft:
R.J. Barrett, Duke
The obvious and likely pick -- should the Knicks hold onto their No. 3 pick -- Barrett can be an NBA scorer from day one. This level of talent was clear over a year ago, and though Barrett's starburst has been drowned out a touch by Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, he's still a major score for the Knicks. How he'll fit with a competing team depends a lot on who the Knicks end up signing, as he'll likely need the ball in his hands a lot to be effective right away. This could also clash with another young player, as Dennis Smith Jr. is a ball-dominant point guard. At least in year one, Barrett could find himself best utilized as a sixth man, carrying the scoring and creating load for bench units, depending on where his shooting and defense are in October.
Whatever his role, there's a lot to expect right out of the gate. Barrett is a crafty scorer, only adding to the trickery by playing a southpaw game. He's got a scorer's build and enticing athleticism, all things that can translate on day one. His potential in the pick and roll is scary, especially since he could have success in that area right away, moving to a more space-friendly team and league. With some of the names New York will be targeting, scoring may not be what they need from their rookie next year, but give Barrett time on his favorite team and he could develop into a well-rounded star.
Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Although Culver was a disappointment in the championship game, he's still a strong prospect to come in and contribute as a 3-and-D guy right away. Taking him at four would be going against chalk, let alone skipping Barrett with the third pick. However, if the Knicks decide to trade down a spot or two, they're in perfect range for Culver. The big factor in his ability to contribute right away is his deep ball. Culver shot just 30.4% from three this season, down from 38.2% in his freshman year. Even if his shooting isn't quite where it needs to be, he'll make an immediate impact on defense, something the Knicks can't overlook.
De'Andre Hunter, Virginia
Hunter was not a disappointment in the championship game, and may just be an even better NBA-ready prospect than Culver. To the experts, Hunter's ceiling falls far lower, but his ability to contribute right away is unmatched by few in this year's class. He's a knockdown shooter, has a superb defensive frame and ability. If he somehow slips, and the Knicks have some assurances about free agency, he's a name worth looking to trade down for. On the chance he develops further than people expect, he'll be an All-Star in this league.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Clarke is slated to get picked anywhere from top-10 to outside the lottery, with an impressive Combine showing sliding things towards the former. His measurements were off the charts, with his max vert tying for third in the entire class and his lane agility topping all forwards. He'll be able to defend at the NBA level right away and can even contribute offensively, where scouts are less impressed. Rim running off the pick in a spaced-out NBA offense will get Clarke some opportunities, and his ability to get hustle points on the offensive boards and on cuts will translate well.