Eastern Conference – No. 14 New York Knicks

Going to see Kristaps Porzingis at Madison Square Garden this season might be the only thing worth seeing. (Photo credit to bleacherreport.com)
Going to see Kristaps Porzingis at Madison Square Garden this season might be the only thing worth seeing in New York City. (Photo credit to bleacherreport.com)

Oh, the New York Knicks. No one thought Phil Jackson could run a franchise into the ground, especially a franchise of which he played for and after he won 11 championships as a coach, but he has.

The Knicks, gosh, I don’t know where to start. Just, WOW.The NBA landscape has shifted. That’s a fact.

A lot of players are not interested in the glitzy, glamorous cities that are New York City and Los Angeles. LaMarcus Aldridge picked San Antonio, Greg Monroe chose Milwaukee (Greg Monroe chose MILWAUKEE) and a lot of players re-signed with their respective teams.

Meanwhile, the Knicks reeled in Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn. Those aren’t the biggest fish in the sea or the biggest fish in a lagoon, but Lopez and Afflalo will bring some experience and grit to a team that lacks every quality ingredient needed to be competitive. Williams is a player who I have never understood. He has not improved in his four years in the NBA. As for O’Quinn, I didn’t know he was still in the league.

That’s my fault.

Of course, every Knick fan booed Kristaps Porzingis when the Knicks drafted him with the No. 4 pick in June’s draft. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s a bad choice. He looks like a soft kid, but I know there is some fire deep down inside of him. He will surprise a lot of people in the next couple of years. He might not be the hero New York deserves, but he might turn into the one it needs.

Carmelo Anthony is set to make $22 million this season. He is 31-years-old and just about at the end of the good part of his career. What worries me is that he has not played a full 82-game season since his rookie season, and now his knees are becoming a big issue. We all saw how bad the Knicks were without him, and they were hardly better with him. The question, “Can Carmelo lead a team?” has always surrounded him.

The answer has always been, “No.”

A lot of people were skeptical of Jason Kidd when he started coaching two years ago. I think he has done a great job of silencing the critics and now he has something cooking in Milwaukee. Phil Jackson’s choice to hire Derek Fisher did not work out in Year 1. Maybe Fisher needed a one-year adjustment period of moving from the floor to the bench?  I hope the Knicks can rebound after a horrendous year, for the sake of the franchise, but it won’t be easy.

While the Eastern Conference was not tremendous last season, it will be better this season.

Teams like Boston, Miami, Orlando, and Indiana will all be better. Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, Washington, Toronto, and Milwaukee will almost certainly be in the playoffs. That’s 10 teams that are ahead of New York, plus Brooklyn, Charlotte, and Detroit won’t be push-overs.

Now, the Knicks could surprise people by scoring points (they ranked 30th in points per game – 91.9) and playing defense (ranked 21st in points allowed – 101.2). They could shoot better than 42.8 percent from the field (28th in the league) and they could grab more than 40.4 rebounds per game (29th).

I would be willing to bump them up a few slots, but their roster is just so depressing.

I have the Knicks slated to win between 16-20 games and finish 14th in the Eastern Conference.

The only thing I hope to have happen this season is for the New York fans to warm up to Porzingis. He could become something very special.

Give him a chance before you boo him.


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