The Knicks will open up their 2017/2018 season on Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 16, 2017
After finishing their preseason 0-5 with the league’s worst defensive rating and lowest assist-to-turnover ratio, one can only wonder what this regular season has in store for them.
Carmelo Anthony is gone, waiting to torch his former employers in the season opener. The drama surrounding Phil Jackson has vanished, but if the preseason has anything to say about things (it rarely does), big problems still remain.
Nobody expects this team to be perfect. Having high expectations will only lead to eventual heartbreak and anger this season. But the Knicks are young, promising and have nothing to lose this season.
Who knows? Maybe this team will shock everybody and squeeze into a playoff spot. But that is too far-fetched, right? Especially with the upcoming draft class.
Final Record: 26-56
The Knicks look destined for another lackluster year. Will this team challenge the franchise’s worst single-season record of 17-65? Probably not, but they certainly will not improve on last season’s record 31-51.
Besides, Knicks fans should be hoping for another low finish. With the Draft Lottery set to be reformed in 2019, this is the last year teams can “tank” to get the picks they so desire, mathematically speaking.
The Knicks are young and lack a true closer, like Carmelo Anthony. Yes, Kristaps Porzingis is now the face of the franchise, but do not be surprised to see him struggle from time to time. He is now the player teams will set their defenses around and will need to adapt.
This team has the ability to pull off some major wins, but the always lingering defensive worries should ensure their ultimate demise this year, which again, is not necessarily a bad thing.
MVP: Kristaps Porzingis
This one is a no-brainer. Porzingis will be the Knicks’ main man this year. As the young, but confident face of the franchise, Porzingis will thrive off of a higher shot count.
While Frank Ntilikina looks unlikely to start the season as a starter, Porzingis should have some fun running pick and roll offense with the Frenchman when they are together on the court.
While Porzingis will not be able to lead his side to the playoffs, he looks set to have his breakout year.
There will be times of struggle, be prepared. Durability still remains a key question mark over the heads of Porzingis and Ntilikina, but the Latvian is coming off of a stellar EuroBasket showing and will be ready to lead his new-look team into battle.
Just Play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. pic.twitter.com/PCshLIDkpP
— Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) October 13, 2017
Players to Watch: Doug McDermott, Frank Ntilikina
Keep an eye on these two.
McDermott’s arrival as Carmelo Anthony’s “replacement” was obviously disappointing. The deal was the best the Knicks could get, though.
With Kanter and a second round pick included, the Knicks were able to get some youth into the organization to help with their rebuild.
But this is not to say McDermott will have a poor season. He was a standout in the preseason, in fact. The sharpshooter showed a bit of everything, scoring 21 points in their recent defeat to the Washington Wizards.
He looks set to play a big role in this season’s squad, primarily as the 6th man. In a Knicks offense that will attempt to play a simple, but fast-paced offense, McDermott could thrive and finally mold into the NBA version of “Doug McBuckets”.
Doug McDermott + Tim Hardaway Jr shot a combined 17-27 (8-14 from three) vs Wizards pic.twitter.com/XtFrjJdsRS
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) October 14, 2017
As for Ntilikina, he is a wild card this season. Like Porzingis, Ntilikina should be treated with patience over the first half of the season.
He still needs to develop physically and will most likely struggle. But his length and defensive abilities will make his a weapon once he gets some confidence going on the court.
Do not be shocked if he makes an All-NBA Rookie squad.
Letdowns for the Year: Joakim Noah, Team Defense
As far as players go, Joakim Noah will have another year to further frustrate fans wondering why the Knicks gave him the kind of money he is being paid.
He is suspended for the first 12 games of the season, more than enough time to allow the roster to take its “final shape”. With Willy Hernangomez and Enes Kanter already in front of Noah, he may struggle to see the court for large periods of the season.
Also, team defense will be another letdown this season. Will it be even worse than last season? Quite possibly. The Knicks ranked last in preseason defensive rating.
They are young and criminally undersized. Courtney Lee looks set to be the starting small forward. Ramon Sessions lacks Frank Ntilikina’s length while Ntilikina lacks Sessions’ experience and strength.
Down low, Enes Kanter is looking to answer his critics with an improved defensive year, but the preseason did not provide much hope.
Kristaps Porzingis will also have to prove himself in the paint.
Get ready for another year of defensive collapses.
Stretch Predictions: KP an All-Star, Kanter or Hernangomez dealt for Draft Choices
With the offense now built around him, Kristaps Porzingis should have a solid chance to challenge for an All-Star spot. Will he get it?
Additionally, do not be surprised to see the Knicks make a few more trades to stockpile picks. Kanter and Hernangomez are both players who could be shopped closer to the deadline.
Kyle O’Quinn could also be included in trade talks. At this point, the more picks the merrier for the Knicks.