NEW YORK -- The Knicks crushed the crosstown rival Nets, 111-95, on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden to complete a four-game season sweep.
But with every win the Knicks add at this point, they are getting further and further away from the ultimate goal: the top of the NBA Draft lottery.
The Knicks are now 23-28, three games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 8 seed in the East. At 24-23 entering Tuesday, the Sixers were also outside of the lottery at No. 15.
Of their final 31 games, the Knicks play 16 on the road, where they are 7-19 this season. Of those seven wins, two are in Brooklyn, meaning the Knicks have won just five games outside of New York City this season. In other words, the chances of them going on a late-season run, and vaulting into the playoff hunt seem about as likely as LaVar Ball and Steve Kerr going out on a dinner date.
Entering Tuesday, the Knicks were in 12th place in the Draft lottery, with just a 2.5 percent chance of landing a top-3 pick, according to Tankathon.com. Depending on what mock you look at, the top three picks will vary, but Tankathon's top three at this point are Real Madrid shooting guard Luka Dončić at No. 1, Arizona big man Deandre Ayton at No. 2 and Duke power forward Marvin Bagley III at No. 3. ESPN's latest mock has Dončić and Ayton 1-2, with Texas big man and Harlem native Mohamed Bamba at No. 3.
Especially considering this draft is pretty top-heavy, this is not where the Knicks want to be: stuck somewhere in the middle.
You either want to be among the best teams in the league -- the Warriors, Cavaliers, Rockets and Celtics come to mind -- or you want to be in position to become one of the better teams in the league by accumulating assets -- draft picks, talented young players, expiring contracts, etc.
The good news for the Knicks is they have several young pieces around which to build in Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina -- but they clearly need an infusion of more talent to get back to where they want to be.
With the NBA trade deadline approaching Feb. 8, a league told SNY.tv that the Knicks expect to be "opportunistic." They will look for pieces that might help them down the road, but don't expect a massive fire sale or a big-time addition at this stage.
The other piece of good news is they have three picks in this year's draft: currently Nos. 12, 37 and 44 per Tankathon.
To increase their chances of getting a top-3 pick to at least 18 percent, the Knicks probably need to finish with somewhere around a .360 winning percentage. If they finish 30-52, that would put them at .366. That would require them going 7-24 the rest of the way. That probably won't happen, but that's the kind of math Knicks fans should be thinking about to put them in the mix for a top-3 pick.
In the meantime, here are three potential draft picks that fall in the Knick's current draft range of about 10-12:
Collin Sexton, 6-2 Fr. G, Alabama
Some 50 NBA scouts saw Sexton take on Oklahoma freshman sensation Trae Young last Saturday, when Sexton went for 18 points in Alabama's 80-73 win.
Jonathan Givony wrote that Sexton "looks like a nice pairing with [Ntilikina with] his tremendous aggressiveness driving the lane, taking off-the-dribble jumpers and putting defensive pressure on opposing guards. NBA teams have some concerns about Sexton's ability to stay healthy due to his reckless style of play, and he has seemingly been dinged up all season, which hasn't helped matters."
Mikal Bridges, 6-7 Jr. SF, Villanova
Jay Wright's program isn't known for producing a ton of NBA talent, but it is known for winning. The Wildcats are No. 1 in the nation and have won four straight Big East regular-season titles along with the NCAA championship in 2016.
Bridges is currently averaging 16.7 points and 6.0 rebounds for the best team in the land.
"Bridges' ability to make shots, defend anywhere from 1-4 and play within a system make him an easy fit on almost any team's roster, even if his overall upside is limited to an extent by his lack of shot creation," Givony wrote.
Kevin Knox, 6-9 Fr. PF, Kentucky
Knox is the best pro prospect on the current Kentucky team, which is not John Calipari's best. While playing out of position, he hasn't been as consistent as expected but he did raise eyebrows by going off for 34 points and 7 rebounds in Saturday's win at No. 7 West Virginia.
"There's a significant market in the NBA for combo forwards in his mold who can make an open shot, defend multiple positions and offer some offensive versatility, "Givony wrote. "He's one of the youngest players in this draft, so he still has plenty of room to continue to grow."