The New York Knicks are heading into the 2015-2016 season after what can only be generously called a “rebuilding” 17 win season. It’s hard to blame first-year head coach Derek Fisher as his team was lead in minutes by Shane Larkin (1865) , Jason Smith (1785) and Tim Hardaway (1681). Unfortunately for the Knicks, they didn’t just lose 65 games, but lost those games without the benefit of developing long-term players for the team with potential (like the Timberwolves).
Key additions: Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn, Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Derrick Williams
Key Losses: Sam Dalembert, Jason Smith, Tim HardawayKey additions: Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn, Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Derrick Williams
Fortunately for the Knicks, the Zen Master is a pretty good basketball mind and proved it once again with one of the better summer of any team in the league. He started off extremely strong taking the biggest “boom/bust” player in the draft with an eye towards the future in Kristaps Porzingis. He was also able to fleece Atlanta by getting rid of Tim Hardaway for the talented pass-first point guard, Jerian Grant. Following the draft, he signed three quality players, (Afflalo, Lopez and O’Quinn) who will all be massive upgrades to their predecessors and help the Knicks get back to being competitive next season. Derrick Williams and Kevin Seraphin haven’t found their way in the NBA yet, but they are both good buy-low candidates and are the type of players a team devoid of talent like the Knicks need to take a chance on.
O’Quinn was one of the premier signings of the offseason when considering his production, age and how crazy contracts got this summer. At just $4 million per year over the next 4 years, the Knicks found themselves a two-way big man just entering his prime at an extremely discounted price. He’s an excellent fit for the triangle with his mid-range shooting, (with a glimmer of a 3 point shot) and ability to defend at both power forward and center. He’s got some playmaking ability too (career 11.3% assist rate) and has been an effective rebounder (16.8% Rebound rate) for his career. 25 year old 6’10 250-pound big men who can shoot, defend two positions and rebound are rare in Free Agency and the Knicks were able to take advantage of the opportunity. Depending on where Carmelo primarily plays, it would not be surprising to see O’Quinn starting next to Lopez at power forward this season.
Jerian Grant comes into his rookie season as one of the more experienced players in this rookie class with four years of college ball and bringing stability to a shaky point guard position for the Knicks. The skillset that should translate immediately for Grant is his playmaking ability, (7.3 assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted in college). His size at 6-5 allows him to see over the top of defenses and make plays that most other PG’s would not be able to see.
Sure enough, Grant has shown a solid knack for distributing the ball this preseason with a 2.37 assist-to-turnover rate and 3.8 APG in just 24 MPG. He’ll have an excellent opportunity to take over primary minutes at the point guard spot with only Jose Calderon and Langston Galloway as competition for playing time.
You wouldn’t think a player with 20,000 points, is an 8x all-star and is a 6x all-nba player would have much left to prove, but Anthony finds himself in exactly that situation heading into the 13th season. With the Knicks being a few years off from being close to being a contender, it is difficult to see where Anthony will get his shot at a title before his play starts to decline. This Knicks team will heavily depend on Melo to be healthy the whole year and able to regain his old form for a shot at the playoffs.
Most exciting player to watch: Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis is the latest incarnation in a long line of pretenders to be “the next Dirk.” Porzingis doesn’t play like most of the European big shooters to come over in the last 15 years though; he’s a good athlete, he likes to mix it up in the paint, rebound and play defense. His major obstacle the first couple seasons will be getting his body in NBA shape and condition. At just age 20 though, he has plenty of time to develop physically.
7’0 sharp-shooting big men always come with intrigue and Porzingis has the best chance of any big to come over since Dirk to become a real star. He’ll need a few years to build up his body and develop, but he absolutely has one of the best ceilings in this draft.
The Knicks are not a good team, but having a top 15 player and getting to play in the eastern conference will give any team a chance to be competitive. Players like Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez displacing completely ineffective players like Tim Hardaway and Jason Smith greatly helps and will get the Knicks out of the cellar. There just isn’t enough talent yet on this squad to call this team a playoff team yet on either end of the floor. The key for Knicks will be to get plenty of playing time for the likes of Grant, Porzingis, Early and seeing if they can tap into the potential of Williams and Seraphin to develop for the future.
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