Kyle Lowry is one of the difference-making point guards the Knicks will chase when free agency begins Monday at 6 p.m. But the Knicks also hope they drafted Lowry Lite in the NBA draft Thursday night.
If the comparisons between West Virginia sophomore point guard Miles McBride and Lowry prove prescient, Knicks president Leon Rose will have pulled off the biggest draft steal in franchise history.
McBride, who will turn 21 in September, said in a video posted from his draft party Thursday night he’ll make teams “pay” for letting him slip to 36th-overall.
From Morgantown to Midtown, the 6-foot-2 sparkplug caught Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau’s eye as a pesky defender and gifted outside shooter.
“I definitely honored to have my playing style compared to Kyle Lowry,’’ McBride said on a Zoom call Friday. “I know he’s led the league in charges and I’m willing to do anything to win. That’s something I certainly can get behind.”
Nicknamed “Deuce,’’ McBride was asked about his proclamation regarding teams that found him too small to draft in the first round. He measured at the draft combine at 6-2 ¾, but with a 6-8 wingspan.
“I feel like I have a winning DNA throughout high school, college,’’ said McBride, who was a high-school quarterback in Cincinnati. “That’s the main thing I want to bring to the Knicks. Winning and continue to go upwards. I feel like doing all that winning, a lot of teams will regret not taking me.
“I feel I’m definitely one of the best players in the draft,’’ McBride added. “It’s not where you start, but where you finish.’’
The Knicks made the playoffs at 41-31 this past season, but need a starting point guard. It might be too much to ask McBride to play a lot of minutes as a rookie, but he’s unworried. He feels his first chance is “showcasing’’ his game at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, which starts Aug. 8.
Thibodeau took immediately to McBride at their workout and interview. The fact McBride is a former quarterback may have drawn the Knicks coach to “Deuce.’’ The Post reported earlier this week, Thibodeau was pushing to draft McBride.
“Being a quarterback taught me a lot of leadership skills,’’ McBride said. “Being able to lead a team of 80, 90 guys. Thibs saw that leadership and leadership style not yelling but definitely holding guys accountable. He knows I’ll be able to take criticism coming from [West Virginia] Coach [Bob] Huggins.’’
In Morgantown, W.Va., McBride, averaged 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists as a sophomore. He shot 41.4 percent from 3-point range. All for a coach who rivals Thibodeau for his obsessively grim demeanor.
“I’ve heard from everyone I met, if you can play for Huggins you can play for anybody,’’ McBride said. “I’ve heard Thibs is hard-nosed coach. That’s how I want it to be at this level as well.
McBride knew a good chance existed he would wind up in New York after their meeting.
“They were familiar with me and understood where I came from,’’ McBride said. “They have friends in the West Virginia program. It feels great to go to a team that wants me and understands my game and sees everything I can do on the floor.’’
McBride saw what the Hawks’ superstar point guard, Trae Young, did to the Knicks in the playoffs. If the teams meet again, McBride may have to be “The Trae Stopper.”
“Trae is a three-level scorer,’’ McBride said. “He can shoot deep-range ball and come off the pick-and-roll. He’s very hard to stay attached to. Being able to put my skill set versus his, I’m looking forward to that challenge.”