Back in February, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson came to Lexington to watch the University of Kentucky basketball team practice and then play against Arkansas in Rupp Arena.
A little more than three months later, Jackson could be eyeing one of those Wildcats as his top pick in the NBA Draft.
DraftExpress.com currently has Duke’s Justise Winslow going to the Knicks with the No. 4 overall pick. But there has been considerable buzz in recent days that New York could select former UK center Willie Cauley-Stein instead.
ZagsBlog.com reported Friday that Cauley-Stein will work out for the Knicks on June 16, and Jackson has said that he would like to draft a defensive-minded big man.
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DraftExpress analyst Jonathan Givony projects Cauley-Stein as the No. 5 pick to the Orlando Magic, though he told the Herald-Leader this week that the former Cat would be a good fit in New York.
“I could totally see that,” Givony said. “The Knicks were really, really bad defensively last year. And they don’t have a single guy on their roster that really projects as being even an above-average defender, let alone a great defender.
“I think it’s really, really hard to get that rim-protector right now. And they have so many other needs -- that would just be one box that they could check right there with a guy like Cauley-Stein.”
The Knicks had the third-worst defensive rating in the league this season, according to NBA.com. Only the Timberwolves and Lakers ranked lower in that category.