The Knicks will be better this year, but how much better?
by John Jastremski
Nov 01, 2016 | 11836 views | 0 0 comments | 458 458 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The last two years of New York Knicks basketball have given us two final months of the season where the team has been simply irrelevant.

In mid-March, the NCAA Tournament would divert our basketball attention for a nice three to four-week span, but when it was time for the NBA Postseason, the Knicks were missing in action.

I don’t expect that to be the case in the spring of 2017.

The Knicks did a very nice job in the offseason complimenting Carmelo Anthony and sophomore sensation Kristaps Porzingis with legitimate pieces in the starting lineup.

The additions of Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah to the starting five significantly improves the talent base of the Knickerbockers.

It’s not debatable, on paper the Knicks should have a much-improved starting lineup.

They have a legitimate point guard in Rose who can actually break down a defense, a shooting guard in Lee who can hit big shots and play defense, and they added a center in Noah who is one of the toughest players in the league and brings incredible intangibles with his defense and passing ability.

Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are talented players, but they are also prone to injury. There is no guarantee either one will be able to last through the grind of the NBA regular season.

If the Knicks cannot rely on Rose and Noah, they’re in serious trouble, because the team’s bench leaves a lot to be desired.

The addition of Brandon Jennings as a legitimate backup point guard is terrific, but the rest of the bench is just not good enough.

Aside from injuries and a lack of depth, there are also chemistry issues that you have take into account with the group.

How will Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis mesh with Derrick Rose? How will Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek figure out a way to evolve past the triangle offense into a legitimate 21st century NBA offense?

These questions will be answered as the season goes on, but when you think about last season, the reason you didn’t view 2015-16 as a total loss is due to the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis.

Despite everything the Knicks have done here in the offseason, this is not a championship-caliber team.

The Knicks are improved, I think they’re good enough to be in the playoffs, maybe even good enough to win a round if things break right, but this team is not winning an NBA title.

You’d have a better chance of hitting the lottery than seeing this group rolling down the Canyon of Heroes in the summer of 2017.

However, there’s a legitimate hope that Porzingis could be the franchise player of a championship team one day in the near future.

He’s that special, he’s that talented, and he’s that good.

The Knicks have a better team, but they cannot lose focus on the development of their budding star.

He needs to get touches, he needs to be involved in the offense, and it would be irresponsible and unacceptable not to have Porzingis actively involved in the everyday success with this team.

The development of KP6 still must be a top priority for the 16-17 Knicks.

I expect the Knicks to have plenty of highs and lows throughout the 82-game season. There will be times where you envision a deep playoff run and other times where you question if they’ll even make the playoffs.

For the first time since 2012-2013, the New York Knicks will be back in the NBA Postseason, if they stay healthy.

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• Philadelphia +3

• Miami -3.5

• San Francisco +3

• Pittsburgh +2.5

• Seattle -7
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