2016 – 2017 Results: 31-51, 12th in the Eastern Conference
Key Additions: Frank Nkilitina (Draft), Enes Kanter (OKC), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (ATL), Doug McDermott (OKC), Michael Beasley (MIL), Ramon Sessions (CHA), Trey Burke (WAS), Jarrett Jack (NOP)
Key Departures: Carmelo Anthony (OKC), Derrick Rose (CLE)
Free Agents: None
Projected Starters: Frank Nkilitina – Tim Hardaway, Jr. – Doug McDermott – Kristaps Porzingis – Enes Kanter
Bench Mob: Ramon Sessions, Ron Baker, Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Lance Thomas, Michael Beasley, Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah
It’s 2017 A.M. (after Melo) and the New York Knicks undoubtedly have a new look if not a completely new direction. Latvian sensation (would’ve worked better if he was Croatian) Kristaps Porzingins is now unequivocally the face of the franchise and with that comes some new um……..challenges? Don’t get me wrong, this was a move then needed to get made for the long term betterment of the organization and the timing is arguably spot on but in meantime it’s gonna be kinda rough.
Their eventful and frankly pretty strange summer culminated in the trade of Carmelo Anthony however the biggest get was one that can’t shoot, pass, play D or honestly do anything on the court. Scott Perry, the executive who led the Sacramento Kings to their first not disastrous off-season in roughly a decade left NorCal to take on the challenge of rebuilding the house that……..well build the damn house. And judging by the Melo trade he may not be completely over his head but only time will tell.
The Good: We’re about to get treated to several doses of pure, unstepped on K-Zing (had to try something different) and I hope we get to OD on it all season. The GAWD averaged 18 and 8 last season with two blocks while having only the third highest usage rate on the team last year behind the now departed Rose and Anthony. In Layman’s terms, ish is about to get real. With the offense completely built around him he’ll have plenty of reps to further develop what is already a quite impressive repertoire and the fact that he may not be completely without help is a good way to see to it that he’s not too swamped by opposing defenders.
In a summer where some big names got traded for less than spectacular returns the Knicks did themselves a huge solid in getting back guys that can help right away. I see a good bit of Tha GAWD’s help coming from these pieces. Enes Kanter, although still a huge minus on D is an above average post scorer and will make defenders think twice about going all in on sliding help over to Porzingis. McDermott projects to provide some much needed shooting for a group that finished 21st in three point shooting when paired with Courtney Lee and THJ should be able to help with their spacing issues as he is effective at getting to the rack. Having seasoned vets in the starting lineup should help with the onboarding of Frank Nkilitina. Despite the drama around his arrival word is that he is rather impressive and should prove to be a vital part of their plans right away. Especially as he is expected a ready made defender.
The Bad: As much of a fight it will be for the starting lineup to stay competitive most nights the bench will prove to be doubly outmatched. This is not to say that all of the Knicks’ bench player are bad (although frankly some of them are) it’s just that this is just a very ill-fitting unit that provides little in scoring and arguably less on defense. Sure there are some bright spots here and there but for the most part these are disparate pieces that will struggle to fit in when staggered with their promising starters and even worse will flat out disappoint as a whole unit. Compiled of a mixture of underdeveloped and one-dimensional players their rigidity will prove to be their undoing.
Defense is another issue. Finishing as the 26th rated defense and giving up 108 points per contest “good” for 23rd in the association last year the Knicks sadly did little to address their issues on this side of the ball in the off-season outside Nkilitina. It can be argued that the defense may get better with Rose and Anthony gone due to addition by subtraction but for what they have to make up on offense it’s hardly a trade off. O’Quinn isn’t a bad defender by any metric but with such a loaded front court it will be hard for him to see enough minutes for him to be truly effective.
The X Factor: This isn’t going to be a good season in terms of wins and losses this year but I think we all know that this s going to be the case. Outside of K.P’s progression and how fast Frank “Frankie Nicotine” Nkilitina can adjust to the pro game as well as how these misfit toys will band together I think what will sway the perception of how this team will look will be the growth of their young foreign bigs and a certain newcomer.
Willy Hernangomez established himself in the second half of the season as a consistent two way post man. So much so that it won’t be a stretch to see him getting the majority of the minutes at the 5. His ability to score effectively in the low post (something that O’Quinn can’t do) and protect the rim (something that Kanter definitely can’t do) gives them a versatility that is absent in such a crowded rotation. Kuzminskas also grew considerably throughout last year’s campaign emerging as a not quite as skilled yet Kanter but at a fraction of the price.
Than there’s the Curious Case of Michael Beasley. For all of the stuff around him (and there’s plenty) dude can get buckets. Sure he plays into the whole one-dimensional issue that I mentioned whilst discussing their bench but if he can score effectively he can lend the Knicks some much needed flexibility. He shot the three ball at a 42% clip last season in Milwaukee although in limited action (1 attempt per game). This is going to be a season of searching for bright spots and if for nothing else Beasley can provide some much needed excitement if not a few cringeworthy moments.
H.B. says: 26-56, 14th in the Eastern Conference, 5th in the Atlantic Division