Knicks’ NBA draft priority could lead to LaMelo Ball, college studs

CHICAGO — Incoming president Leon Rose is set up well for the draft on June 20 with three potential picks in the top 35.

The Knicks, who own the fifth-worst record, have their own lottery pick. Odds are, that should be in the top five, with the lottery held in Chicago on May 19.

The Knicks also will have the Clippers’ first-rounder from the Marcus Morris trade at the NBA deadline — which figures to be around No. 25. And they own Charlotte’s second-round pick from the Willy Hernangomez deal in 2018. If the season ended today, that pick would be No. 36.

According to an NBA source, the Knicks scouting staff has been instructed the top priority is a scoring point guard on which to use their lottery pick.

The second priority, likely for the Clippers’ pick, is a shooting guard who has 3-point range — something rookie RJ Barrett has not shown.

Tyrese Haliburton; LaMelo Ball; Tyrese Maxey NBA 2020 mock draft
Tyrese Haliburton; LaMelo Ball; Tyrese MaxeyAP (2), Getty

The mission to find a scoring point guard is good news since there are a bunch projected to go high in the lottery. The Knicks currently are burdened with three point guards on their 15-man roster who are poor 3-point shooters — Elfrid Payton (23.7 percent from 3), Frank Ntilikina (30.4) and Dennis Smith Jr. (29.2).

The 6-foot-5 LaMelo Ball is among the top projected selections, though 3-point shooting is not his strength. As The Post reported, nobody from the Knicks scouting staff has traveled to Australia to see Ball play live. The Knicks planned the trip for January but Ball shut it down in December after getting injured.

However, Ball signed with Creative Artist Agency and Rose was expected to be his agent.

The other high lottery pick who plays the point and has generated major buzz is North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, Greg Anthony’s son, whose freshman season was interrupted by a knee injury. However, Greg Anthony was quoted as saying his son could return to UNC next season.

But don’t sleep on a few other candidates who can play the point — Kentucky combo guard Tyrese Maxey, Iowa State 6-5 point guard Tyrese Haliburton and 6-5 combo guard Killian Hayes, who plays in Germany.

It’s still unknown whether acting president Scott Perry will be in the war room advising Rose on the pick. Rose is still tying up loose ends with his clients at CAA and the official announcement may be more than a week away.

With Rose’s consultation, the Knicks went hard after Golden State scoring point guard D’Angelo Russell at the trade deadline 10 days ago but came up empty. Russell wound up in Minnesota and the Knicks will have to continue their search in the offseason.

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