Yet with all this talent on display, it will only serve as a reminder — a massive tease — to Knicks and Nets fans that neither team has a first-round draft pick in 2016. The Celtics get Brooklyn’s pick, and with the Nets at 2-10, that pick is looking pretty appealing right now. The Knicks, who at 6-6 are looking much improved from the disaster of a team that landed NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 in this year’s draft, must surrender their 2016 first-round pick to Toronto. “I don’t know if there’s irony to it,” Bobby Marks, the former Nets assistant GM, said in a phone interview. “The fans of this region are going to look at these kids when they do come in and may be wanting them in June and not be able to get them in June.” A year ago, of course, the Knicks historically bad season devolved into a talk of Tank Slogans like “Lose some more for Okafor” and “Play like clowns for Towns,” in reference to Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns. Nobody was really talking about Porzingis, although one message board fan came up with “Mishaps for Kristaps.”
In honor of Simmons, who has drawn comparisons to Magic Johnson and LeBron James, we’ll throw out “Win less than 10 for Ben” and “Play without Zen for Ben.” For Labissiere, my colleague Josh Newman came up with “Lose 80 for the kid from Haiti.” On Murray, @revans0 came up with, “Lose ’em all for Jamal.” But of course, neither the Knicks or Nets will be landing any of those studs. Still, fans of those teams shouldn’t feel alone. The Lakers could end up with no pick, too. They do have a first-round pick but it will go to Philadelphia unless the Lakers finish in the top three in the draft lottery. “If you are in that top four [of the lottery] it’s a safe place where potentially some of these teams could be with Simmons and Labissiere and [Dragan] Bender and Murray and Kris Dunn from Providence,” Marks said. “There’s a lot of kids who will get the hype.” Still, Marks points out, you don’t really know how a draft pick will pan out until you see him play over time. The 7-foot-3 Porzingis is certainly proving that right now, and proving that Phil Jackson and Steve Mills made what appears to be a brilliant pick. “These teams still have to draft these guys and make the right pick and I think that’s kind of what you saw with the Knicks,” Marks said. “A lot of people got bent out of shape [over Porzingis].” On the flip side, Marks pointed to the Celtics drafting of Kentucky one-and-done James Young at No. 17 in 2014. He has spent much of his time in the NBA D-League so far. “Boston drafted James Young and he hasn’t played a game yet,” Marks said. “If you don’t make the right pick then there’s a different story line there.” This much seems certain, though. The 0-12 Sixers seem headed for the lottery. Again. In fact, the team that has seemingly been tanking since George Bush No. 2 was President could have as many as four first-round picks. “I think Philly will be in good shape unless they finish 1 [with the NBA’s worst record] and they fall to whatever they can fall to in the lottery,” Marks said. “They should potentially have a couple a lottery picks.” But the Nets don’t even have one so even if they “Win less than 10 for Ben,” Simmons won’t be playing at Barclays Center, folks.