The New York Knicks were the laughingstock of the 2014-2015 NBA season, finishing with the second worst record in the league at 17-65 behind the Minnesota Timberwolves. Fans were irate at the organization for their fourth overall draft pick as they went tall, versatile, and European in Kristaps Porzingis out of Latvia.
During the offseason, the organization knew they had to make big changes to the roster. All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony possibly considered leaving the Knicks because winning was something the team lacked drastically.
Knicks President Phil Jackson totally changed the identity of the team with veteran experience as they acquired nine new players to play at MSG. Being short-handed at shooting guard, New York has now filled that void with multiple options. They acquired guards Arron Afflalo, Sasha Vujacic, and 2015 second-round pick Jerian Grant out of Notre Dame.
New York has held a reputation as a team which loves to shoot the three from every position on the floor. Porzingis was possibly the best pick for their position as a long forward/center and is likely a more talented version of Andrea Bargnani who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Kyle O’Quinn, Lou Amundson, Derrick Williams, Robin Lopez and Kevin Seraphin are all veteran big-men who can rebound and earn valuable minutes on the floor. The Knicks really struggled last year in rebounding, because the face of the franchise, 6’ 8” veteran forward Anthony led the team in rebounds at 6.6 which is putrid for a team. So along with a need for shooters, The Knicks were extremely desperate for players who know how to crash the boards.
The Knicks struggled through every aspect as a team. They were dead last in the league in scoring at 91.9 points per game. Most of that scoring came from Carmelo Anthony, scoring over 24 points a game, but he did sustain a tough knee injury during the latter half of the season. This only made matters worse for the organization without their core superstar leading the way. They averaged 40.4 rebounds per game (29th in the NBA), 21.2 assists per game (19th), and 101.2 points allowed per game (21st). Those numbers should improve with the new acquisitions in all categories. This is a rebuilding team whose time to make a difference starts now.
Like every other team in the NBA, if the Knicks want to be better this season, it all begins with health and conditioning. The roster is loaded with veteran talent, athleticism, versatility and some youth. All eyes will be on Porzingis and Carmelo just to observe if they mesh together on the floor. Next, is the athletic and speedy rookie Grant. The fans want to see him make an immediate contribution with his court vision and playmaking as he did at Notre Dame. If those three are not playing well, young agile guard Langston Galloway is decent. He never really seemed to have an off night, so his consistency is another vital component for this upcoming season. If Galloway does not start, expect volume shooter Afflalo to see moderate minutes, along with being a terrific defender. If those players can play well and stay healthy, the Knicks season will be subpar.
Lastly, the Knicks need, and I’ll emphasize it again, need to have solid play off the bench. They did not really acquire a star status player during the offseason. It’s the fundamentals that really matter because most of the team is composed of average players. They need to communicate defensively, make the extra pass, capitalize at the foul line and cannot rely on Carmelo Anthony to be the scapegoat.
I don’t see the Knicks making much noise this season especially as they face a tough division with the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics. I’m predicting the Knicks to win 30-35 games in the 2015-2016 season. They just don’t have star-caliber camaraderie. Health and morale should be their main focus going into the season.