Despite managing to build a solid playoff team in recent years, the New York Knicks had to get creative to do so. While many teams build through the draft, New York has notoriously struggled in that regard. Draft busts and missed opportunities have plagued the Knicks for years, but they almost drafted a future superstar just three years ago.
Former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony mentioned on a recent 7PM in Brooklyn podcast that he suggested to New York that they draft Tyrese Haliburton with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Knicks fans, of course, know that they selected Obi Toppin instead, and after three seasons in New York, he was unceremoniously shipped out to the Indiana Pacers.
Ironically, he is now teammates with Haliburton, who is putting up monster numbers and quickly establishing himself as an elite point guard. If Melo, who was playing with the Portland Trail Blazers at the time, really did suggest to his former team that they should draft Haliburton and they chose Toppin over him, then that is a major mistake.
The New York Knicks should have listened to Carmelo Anthony.
Considering how small of a role Toppin played with the Knicks and what they got in the trade with Indiana, the Knicks clearly blew their chance at a rising superstar. While teams such as the San Antonio Spurs also passed on Haliburton—ironic considering how much help they need at point guard—they did draft Devin Vassell, who is one of the four best players in his draft class.
That means the Knicks whiffed twice with the eighth pick and ultimately got nothing out of a high lottery pick. That might not hurt them in the short term since they are a playoff team again after being mostly terrible since 2000, but it could in the long run.
Teams like the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers made similar mistakes of wasting lottery picks in the 2010s when rebuilding. The Wizards took Jan Vesely and Otto Porter when building around John Wall and the Cavs took Anthony Bennet when doing the same with Kyrie Irving, and it came back to haunt them once they hit a ceiling and had little means to improve.
The Knicks are in a far better position, fortunately, thanks to having almost all of their draft picks as well as several others going forward. That puts them in a prime position to trade for an All-Star to pair with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, though they wouldn't need to had they taken Melo's advice and drafted Halliburton instead.