ESPN’s college basketball guru, Seth Greenberg, doesn’t view the 2022 NBA Draft to be “a good draft” at the very top. But if the Knicks remain in the 11-12 pick range, Greenberg thinks they can get value with that selection because the June 23 draft will have depth.
Lacking faith in the Knicks’ wings and Julius Randle’s solidity, Greenberg believes president Leon Rose should focus on three guys: freshman combo forward Jeremy Sochan (Baylor) and sophomore wings Johnny Davis (Wisconsin) and Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona).
The leader in the clubhouse is Sochan, an 18-year-old, one-and-done, 6-foot-9 prospect hyped as a defender of all five positions, who can play small forward and power forward. Greenberg thinks that versatility could help the Knicks, especially if Randle is traded.
“I really like Sochan,” Greenberg told The Post. “The size, skill, versatility, development and he’s got an edge to him. They’re going to have to decide what they’re going to do with RJ Barrett. Sochan has a versatility about him and a monster, monster upside as a 3-4 combo. With all the hassle with Julius, where’s their depth at that position?”
Indeed, the Knicks were hoping Cam Reddish, the former Dukie, would make a splash as a combo forward, but he didn’t impress, then got injured. Greenberg called Reddish “the ultimate tease.”
Greenberg likes Sochan because he has a definitive skill set. He averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while shooting 48 percent for powerful Baylor (27-7), which lost in overtime in the second round to NCAA finalist North Carolina.
The Knicks may want to listen to Greenberg, who suggested point guard Tyrese Haliburton should be the Knicks’ selection in 2020 and lobbied for Chris Duarte last year well before the Oregon sharpshooter climbed up in the draft and out of reach of the Knicks’ 19th slot .
“[Sochan] can shoot the ball and is a very good passer,” Greenberg said. “He rebounds his position from him. His upside of it is great. He can put it on the floor with skill, he has a pretty release. Just a really good feel for a young player and a competitive spirit that I really like. He’s a legit 6-9 player that has a floor game and plays multiple positions. He can step out and shoot, beat you off the bounce. He’s a guy who I think is really undervalued.”
A few mock drafts have Sochan rising to the eighth or ninth overall pick, so the Knicks could miss out if they stay at 11 or 12 and don’t trade up. The pingpong balls give them a 77.6 percent chance of sticking at 11 in the lottery which is two weeks away.
If Sochan is snapped up before 11, Greenberg would take either the 6-6 Mathurtin or 6-5 Davis, both of whom play Barrett’s position as a 2/3. Barrett is due a potential $185 million rookie contract extension.
“I like Mathurin’s athleticism,” Greenberg said. “But it depends on what you do with RJ and [Evan Fournier]. RJ is good, but is he a guy you can count on to make shots? What’s his career shooting percentage of him? [It’s 41.8.] It’s not who he is. He’s a slasher. And he’s not as athletic as Mathurin. Mathurin is a better shooter. I really like Mathurin’s explosiveness and shotmaking ability.”
Mathurin averaged 17.7 points for Arizona as a sophomore and shot 36.9 percent from 3-point range. Davis, at Wisconsin, averaged 19.7 points and eight rebounds but shot just 42.7 percent overall.
“I think he’s a got a little DeMar DeRozan in him,” Greenberg said of Davis. “He’s got a great middle game, physically strong — a former football player. He’s got a toughness about him and is competitive defensively. A good two-way player who rebounds his position from him. I like him a lot but he doesn’t shoot the 3 great, sort of like Barrett.”
Greenberg isn’t as high on Kentucky combo guard TyTy Washington, who has been linked to the Knicks because of the front office’s ties to John Calipari’s program. Greenberg prefers the Knicks’ “continue developing” former Wildcats combo guard Immanuel Quickley.
If the Knicks were to get lucky and hit on their 2 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, Greenberg said Auburn power forward Jabari Smith would be a no-brainer.
“Superstar written all over him,” Greenberg said.