This week I’ve began a 3-week series of “NBA Team Trigger”, where I preview all 30 teams in anticipation for the season opener. On Wednesday, I just happened to be covering two of the most dysfunctional teams at this point in the big markets, the Big Apple and Hollywood. Funny how things work out.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Last Season: 17-65 (projected wins at 40.5) and missed playoffs
Key Additions: Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams, Kristaps Porzingis (rookie), Jerian Grant (rookie)
Key Losses: Tim Hardaway Jr.
2015-16 Vegas: 31.5 projected wins and 200:1 odds to win NBA Championship
The Knicks were last season’s punchline, and it was dreadful to watch. They went and got help with Afflalo and Lopez from Portland, though they were options K and L on the Alphabet Train. They also went and drafted Kristaps Porzingis, who many people instantly criticized, including myself. However, Porzingis is showing some more promise than people originally expected, so his development through the season will be great to watch.
New York traded Tim Hardaway Jr away, and in that deal, obtained Jerian Grant from Notre Dame. The Knicks trade away one promising player for another, one with NBA inheritance and the basketball in their veins. Hardaway stepped up when the organization traded Iman Shumpert and JR Smith to the Knicks. He battled several injuries last season, but still ended up playing 70 games last year, averaging 11.5 points per game. Hardaway looked promising, but not to the Knicks, apparently.
Carmelo Anthony is obviously the do-or-die player for this franchise. He’s an All-Star, but he has trouble carrying the team to the postseason, and when he’s able, he then crumbles trying to win a playoff series. With the money Anthony makes, many would view that fact a travesty. Anthony played 40 games last season and had his worst averages since his first full season with the Knicks back in 2011-12. Clearly, if this team plans to do better in 2015-16, Carmelo is going to need to have much better numbers and be the “Black Mamba of New York”.
The big storylines to watch this season for the Knicks are the rookies. Can Porzingis and Grant contribute this season? This will calm the fans if they see Porzingis isn’t a “3-4 year project” and he comes in getting 14-15 points a game and contributing on the boards. Grant has his own pressure, as the team didn’t want to stick around for Hardaway’s progression, so I can only imagine their patience with Jerian Grant is just as short.
Do I see this team who can make the playoffs? Even in the Eastern Conference, it’s a flat no. They have a lot to work out, and unless Carmelo inserts his name into the MVP discussion, the Knicks are going to have another season of heartbreak. Perhaps the better question is, what’s the absolute best season the Knicks could have? Well, I think that can be around the 35 win mark. Again, that’s the absolute best. I see more around 25-27 games for the Knicks.
What do you think the Knicks can do this season? Let me know in the comments below your expectations!