During the 2019 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks traded the 55th pick along with cash considerations for the 47th pick, which they used to select Ignas Brazdeikis.
The highlight of the 2019 NBA Draft for many fans of the New York Knicks was the selection of Duke guard R.J. Barrett with the third overall pick. He is widely viewed as a player with All-Star potential and he will likely be the starting shooting guard in New York for years to come.
With that being said, the Knicks drafted another prospect who is certainly noteworthy. Ignas Brazdeikis, a Michigan Wolverine product, starred as a freshman in the Big Ten conference this past season. His impressive offensive versatility makes him a player who could contribute right away in New York.
Brazdeikis’ stats were eye-opening considering Michigan played tough competition all season long. The 20-year-old forward averaged 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Wolverines in 29.6 minutes per game, earning him Big Ten Rookie of the Year honors. Brazdeikis is surprisingly polished on the offensive end for a player of his age.
During his lone season with the Wolverines, Brazdeikis displayed that he has the whole package offensively. At 6’7”, he possesses excellent ball-handling skills for his size, which allowed him to push the tempo, leading to many fast break opportunities for Michigan. In the half-court, Brazdeikis used his dribbling prowess to get to the basket and finish over most defenders with ease.
The Lithuanian-born forward is a crafty and talented finisher at the rim. Brazdeikis can score around the basket with either hand, and he has no problem finishing in traffic. He makes up for a lack of athleticism and agility with pure skill and a high basketball IQ.
Another aspect of Brazdeikis’ game that points to his high basketball IQ is his ability to move without the ball on offense. As great as he was for Michigan this past season with the ball in his hands, he played just as well off of it. Brazdeikis has proven himself to be an elite cutter who knows exactly when to dive to the rim in order to get easy baskets.
His aptitude on offense as a non-ball-handler is a skill that certainly has the potential to benefit him at the next level. When considering the fact that the ball will not be in Brazdeikis’ hands in New York nearly as often as it was at Michigan, it becomes clear that he will have an opportunity to show off his skills as a cutter.
The former Michigan star can score the ball from the perimeter with great efficiency as well. Last season, he was able to bury 39.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc on 3.9 attempts per contest. He can shoot the ball from deep and from mid-range off the dribble, as he owns a smooth lefty jumper.
The only hole in Brazdeikis’ offensive game is his lackluster passing ability. He only averaged 0.8 assists per game at Michigan despite having the ball in his hands quite often. On occasion, he’s shown he can make solid reads and find open teammates, but he needs to work on becoming a more consistent playmaker.
Overall, Brazdeikis has an arsenal of offensive skills that make him an NBA-ready talent. If given the opportunity, he could absolutely provide scoring on a talent-deprived New York Knicks team. The Knicks are a great fit for him because they’re currently rebuilding, which makes it more likely that he will receive consistent minutes.
Expect Ignas Brazdeikis to work himself into the Knicks’ rotation at some point next season. He is an underrated player who could end up being a steal in this draft.