Pros and Cons: Should Knicks select Zach Edey in 2024 NBA Draft?

After multiple spot-on draft selections in 2020 and 2021 set the Knicks up for their best stretch in recent franchise history, New York should look to recreate that success this year. They have back-to-back late first-round picks at No. 24 and 25, plus the 38th overall pick, and have been relatively inactive in the past two drafts.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Knicks potential draft picks, continuing with Purdue’s Zach Edey.

The case for drafting Edey

If the Knicks are looking for a high-risk, high-reward swing, who better than the most decorated player of this draft class. Edey stands 7-foot-4 and 300 pounds with a soft touch to go along with his historically imposing frame.

Edey won unanimous National Player of the Year honors in back-to-back college seasons, the first to do it in 50 years, behind 25.2 points and 12.2 rebounds a night on 62.3 percent shooting from the field. His impact around the rim became the center of Purdue’s gameplan and helped lead them to the National Championship Game.

A gifted post-up player, Edey can back down towards the rim from nearly any starting point, going to a reliable jump hook, faking his way to an angle or just powering in for the finish. Despite his ginormous physique and lack of twitch, Edey manufactures a high volume of efficient buckets with relative ease thanks to his strength and touch.

Obviously the NBA is more of a pick-and-roll game for centers, but Edey should thrive there despite fewer chances at Purdue. He can one or two-dribble his way to a spot and rise above 99 percent of defenders to find his look.

If he’s near the restricted area, he’s a strong finisher, with little effort needed to get above the rim. This makes him a viable lob threat so long as it doesn’t require too much north-south explosion.

His size also helps him attack the boards, as shown by his numbers on the glass. Again his soft hands and legitimate fundamentals shine here, perhaps more so than his stature.

Same goes defensively. Edey knows how to effectively read offenses and get between the ball and the rim, and if he gets there good luck finishing.

Edey’s massive 7-foot-10 wingspan consumes the court, and he uses it sharply, going vertical and not fouling. He only averaged 1.9 fouls a night while blocking 2.2 shots, doesn’t gamble and moves his feet well despite the lack of burst.

There’s other potential here as well. Edey’s shown hints at a jumper and some playmaking.

His form is smooth and translates at the free throw line with a 71.1 percent clip on high volume. He only averaged two assists with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio, but showed the ability to anticipate help and make the simple read.

There’s a real chance the Knicks end up needing a center this offseason, with two of theirs hitting free agency and another constantly on the mend. If they decide to fill this need via the draft, taking a swing on Edey and his massive collegiate production is worth consideration.

The case against drafting Edey

Edey definitely looked the part at Purdue, but a number of things are about to change for him. For one, he can’t only play drop coverage, and will have to move and recover outside of his comfort zone like never before.

While he didn’t look stiff guarding quicker, smaller opponents, he didn’t look comfortable either, and it’s an entirely different level in the NBA. Teams without strong enough supporting defenders will deal with Edey getting targeted in a few different ways.

His closeouts are a real weak point, and stretch bigs will take advantage. The overall pace and workload will grow too, though Edey displayed tremendous cardio and grit playing 38-plus minutes in the final four games of the NCAA Tournament.

There are other question marks like his face-up game and how he’ll adjust to a much smaller, pick-your-spots role. He’s 22 years old, so he’s likely closer to the finished project than a developmental piece, but the Knicks tend to prefer that anyway.

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