Preview: New York Knicks

2017-18 New York Knicks


Projected Record: 22-60 (14th in East)

Over/Under: 30.5

2016: 31-51 (12th in East)


Key Additions:

  • G Frank Ntilikina
  • G Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • C Enes Kanter
  • F Doug McDermott
  • F Michael Beasley
  • G Ramon Sessions
  • G Jarrett Jack

Key Subtractions:

  • F Carmelo Anthony
  • G Derrick Rose
  • G Justin Holiday
  • F Maurice Ndour
  • C Marshall Plumlee

Summary

Strengths:

  • Uhh… Porzingis is good?
  • Lots of bigs I guess

Weaknesses:

  • Roster lacks many good NBA players
  • Management in shambles

Not to kick a team while they’re down, but man, the Knicks have one of the most inexplicable over/unders in the league for me. The 30.5 line was set before Carmelo Anthony was traded, sure, but even still – does this team really have a route to 30 wins, even in the Eastern Conference? I love Kristaps Porzingis as much as the next guy, but I really don’t think so.

It’s not the current front office’s fault, entirely – Phil Jackson set this franchise back quite a bit, and nearly drove Porzingis out of town as his final act – but the new regime isn’t exactly turning heads either. Melo was largely a sunk cost at this point, but Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott still feels like sort of a thin return, and a massive $71 million contract for Tim Hardaway Jr. (who the Knicks traded away in 2015) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

There just isn’t much in the way of a coherent basketball team on this New York roster right now. Porzingis is a great, one-of-a-kind player who should anchor this team on both ends of the floor, but he’s not ready to initiate an offense, and rookie Frank Ntilikina shouldn’t be expected to do so flawlessly himself at only 19 years old. Enes Kanter is somehow still only 25, but he’s something of a basketball dinosaur – an offense-minded big who can’t stretch the floor or play any semblance of defense – and Hardaway hasn’t really shown anything to suggest he’s more than a fine enough option as a scoring bench wing. Courtney Lee can hit some shots, I suppose?

The best thing going for the Knicks right now is that Jackson is gone, and they can start to rebuild this team in a more productive way – namely, away from the Triangle offense. There are going to be growing pains, though. Porzingis and Ntilikina might be the only worthwhile players for the long haul on this team, which means gunning for a draft pick might just be their best option at the moment.


Most Valuable Player: Kristaps Porzingis

As a Celtics fan, the trade I wanted to see most out of the deals Danny Ainge “almost made” was for Porzingis, the 22-year-old unicorn center who remains one of the league’s most interesting prospects. Porzingis can’t yet create his own shot, but he’s a 7’3″ big man who can stretch the floor (36% from behind the arc last year) and looks to be a lockdown defensive anchor before much longer. Perhaps a Porzingis trade was never quite close to happening, but the fact remains: he’s a wonderful player and he deserves to be freed from New York’s basketball hell.

X Factor: Joakim Noah

The massive contract New York threw at Joakim Noah looked like a mistake from the moment they reported it, and sure enough, Noah managed only 46 unremarkable games for the team last year. He has three years remaining on his deal after this one. Noah is a unique player – at his peak, a frenetic defender, rebounder, and passer – but he’s been plagued by injuries his entire career. Can he stay healthy and provide some kind of return on his nearly untradeable contract this season? More importantly, do the Knicks really even want him to?


Conclusion

The start of the post-Phil Jackson era is going to be rough for the Knicks. They retained invaluable young center Kristaps Porzingis, but there just isn’t enough help around him to make this team particularly intriguing. The good news is that Porzingis is still extremely young, and the Knicks have time to figure out exactly how they want to build around him. For now, though, this team is going to be baaaaaad.

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