2016/17 season in review: 31-51, 12th seed in the Eastern Conference
Key offseason acquisitions: G Tim Hardaway Jr., G Frank Ntilikina, F Doug McDermott, F/C Enes Kanter, F Michael Beasley, G Ramon Sessions
Key offseason losses: F Carmelo Anthony, G Derrick Rose, G Justin Holiday
2017/18 projected starting line-up: Frank Ntilikina, Courtney Lee, Doug McDermott, Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter
2017-18 season outlook: When the New York Knicks traded cult franchise hero Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, they sent a subliminal message to the rest of the league; the rebuilding process begins now.
Without sugarcoating it, the Knicks got considerably weaker this season, and fans shouldn’t expect much noise from their organization for a while, with this season set to be the worst.
By trading Melo, New York thrust the keys to the franchise into the welcoming grasp of Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis, allowing him to run both the offense and defense to help further aid his development into a perennial All-Star. The third-year power forward averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and two blocks a game last season, but these numbers are expected to soar now that the ageing Anthony has departed. The 22-year-old should also expect to see his minutes per game subsequently increase to the near-35 mark as he becomes their one and only reliable scoring option.
Almost seems like a footnote, but: The Kristaps Porzingis era just officially began.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) September 23, 2017
While it isn’t all doom and gloom for the Knicks, losing arguably two of their better players in Derrick Rose and Melo in the offseason, the future looks bright, and the organisation certainly have something to build around.
Second-year center Willy Hernangomez came on leaps and bounds towards the end of last season, and will likely share a large portion of a starting role with newly acquired big Enes Kanter. As well as this, the Knicks drafted point guard Frank Ntilikina, who will lead the line going forward, but it’s likely that while the Frenchman is raw, starting minutes will be heavily shared between himself and 10-year vet Ramon Sessions. The goal this year for New York will be to develop their young core and establish who stays and who will part in their rebuild, not competing.
Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. signed to a ludicrous 4-year, $72 million deal, which in hindsight is a heavy overspend for a player who may not even end up starting. Courtney Lee is a solid role player, and while he doesn’t offer much on the offensive spectrum, he can certainly pitch in on the defensive side where he often goes unnoticed. This would make up for the lacklustre perimeter defense that would otherwise exist without him.
While their big men rotations are plentiful, and the guard positions deep, the small forward spot is their biggest underlying weakness. While Doug McDermott will likely begin the season starting at the three, he isn’t of a high enough caliber to make this position his own. In fact, in his five-year career in the NBA, McDermott has only started 14 games, so thrusting him into a starting role in New York may not pay dividends – but it’s a decision they have little choice in making.
.@dougmcdermott headed to NYC.
— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) September 23, 2017
All in all, don’t expect anything special from the New York Knicks this season, they still have a very long way to go in discovering their identity. With an array of weaknesses, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a handful of different starting line-ups used throughout the course of the season.
Projected strengths: Pick and Roll, athleticism, big man options.
Projected weaknesses: Backcourt strength, small forward weakness, consistency
Projected win total: 25 wins