From the instant the Knicks landed third in the lottery, the narrative moved from Zion Williamson to RJ Barrett. But Jarrett Culver is making his case as the best pick for them.
After Wednesday’s pre-draft workout at MSG Training Center, Culver called himself an elite two-way prospect, one whose dogged defense will help the Knicks from Day 1, if they take him.
“I can come in and make an impact. Defense and offense, I feel like I’m an elite two-way player. So, just having that, I feel I can come in and make an impact,” said Culver, who averaged 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
His defense led Texas Tech to the NCAA Championship game, and he’s convinced it will translate immediately in the NBA.
“I think so, for sure. Nowadays, it’s hard to find people who take pride in defense. But I’m one of them,” he said. “I take pride in defense. Being at Texas Tech taught me a lot, so I feel like on the defensive side I’m elite.”
The top of the draft appeared set in stone, including the Knicks’ third-overall pick. Presumptive top pick Williamson is bound for New Orleans, and Ja Morantlikely is headed for Memphis. Mock drafts almost unanimously have the Knicks taking Barrett, with Culver landing anywhere from Nos. 4-7. But could he climb to No. 3?
“I try not to look at [mock drafts]. I just do what I can do and control what I can control. What other people think and say, that’s not under my control. At the end of the day, I’ll put in the work I’ll put in. I’m going to do what I do,” said Culver, who doesn’t measure himself against Barrett.