More On:

nba draft 2021

Knicks eyeing underrated guard, versatile wing for Draft

Seton Hall star opens up about NBA Draft, dad’s cancer battle, Georgian pride

Emerging draft prospect has Knicks’ attention: ‘Ton of upside’

Nets, Knicks eye same Kentucky star

Oregon senior sniper Chris Duarte has a smart answer when teams ask him about being a relatively ancient 24 years old entering the NBA draft.

“I’m ready to go now,’’ Duarte said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “I’m going to answer the question like I answer it to [teams]. I’m 24 years old. If you want to win right now, go ahead and take me. If you want to win in six, eight years later, go ahead and take the 18-year-old kid and develop him. Because it’s going to take time. That’s how I answer that question.’’

That’s music to the ears of the Knicks, a franchise that sped past the rebuilding phase during last season’s 41-31 pandemic season. Duarte, a 6-foot-6 stout defender and 3-point machine with the Ducks, is right on coach Tom Thibodeau’s timetable. The Post has reported that Duarte is a strong candidate to be selected by the Knicks with their first of two first-round picks, No. 19 overall, if he falls that far.

The problem is, Golden State is thinking the same thoughts and owns the 14th-overall pick. The Warriors have worked out Duarte twice, with Klay Thompson and James Wiseman attending one of the sessions.

The Knicks have already offered the Warriors the 19th and 21th picks to move up to the 14th, but reportedly have been turned down.

“We’ll see what happens,’’ Duarte said. “My goal is to play in the NBA and stay a long time. I like the Knicks. I like Golden State. ‘’

Last Friday, Duarte finally worked out for the Knicks — solo.

“It went great,’’ the pride of the Dominican Republic said. “I met with the front office, Wes [William Wesley], Leon [Rose], those guys. The workout went great. I got better in the workout. I really enjoyed my time there. They want to know me off the court to see the person I am. They know what I [did] on the court in my two years at Oregon.’’

Duarte shot 42.4 percent from 3-point range and averaged 17.1 points in winning the Jerry West Award for college shooting guards. He’s also known as a tough-as-nails defender — and defense is Thibodeau’s calling card.

“Me and coach had a great talk,’’ Duarte said. “I know how he plays. That’s the way I like playing ball. He likes pushing the ball, playing hard defense and offense. That’s how I play. How I play in Oregon. He’s a coach I’d like to play for.’’

Duarte’s NBA path was an unorthodox one. He grew up in the Dominican Republic extremely poor before coming to the United States with his family at age 15. He went the JUCO rout in the Florida panhandle.

“I’m very proud to represent the DR,’’ Duarte said. “Not a lot of kids make it out and be on the biggest stage. It means a lot to me and my people. It would be great. [New York City] has a big Dominican population. I know I’d have their support. The city is going to crazy if I end up in New York. We’ll see what happens. They are a great team last year.’’

Share this article:

Source: Read Full Article