It’s been a long time coming, but the New York Knicks are relevant in the Eastern Conference again. They may not be title contenders yet, but with offseason moves such as signing Joakim Noah and trading for Derrick Rose, fans in New York are thinking playoffs for their beloved team. After back to back bad seasons, Phil Jackson got to work this offseason, getting rid of players who were either old or just couldn’t perform like Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, and Jose Calderon, and bringing in new faces like Brandon Jennings, Rose, Noah, and Courtney Lee. On paper, they look good against most teams, and Derrick Rose even thinks they are a “super team”. But they could end up anywhere in the hunt for the NBA playoffs, or even miss it.
To see where the Knicks will end up, we have to see who the competition is. You obviously have the NBA champion Cavaliers, as well as Boston, and Toronto who could legitimately contend for a title. There are also teams that are on the rise, like Indiana and Detroit, who were the 7th and 8th seed last year, but could now be looking at a long run. There will also be teams on the decline, such as Miami, who lost their superstar player in Dwyane Wade, and are now left with a mediocre roster. The East will be a very competitive conference, and seeing as the Knicks are unproven, it may be unwise to rank them with some of the elite teams from last year already. However, it does seem like the Knicks will be able to match up with teams like the Raptors, Detroit and Indiana, as the Knicks now have a superstar scorer in Carmelo Anthony, an athletic point guard in Rose, a 7’3’’ rebounding power forward with Porzingis, a great rim protector with Noah, and a fantastic “3 and D” player with Courtney Lee.
The X factor for the Knicks this season will likely be the health condition of the players. Rose has obviously had issues in the past with his knees, and ever since the 2011 playoffs there has been questions surrounding him as he only had one full season since then. Noah also struggled with injuries, as just this past season in January he required a shoulder surgery that left him out for the entire season. Carmelo also had to sit out the second half of the 2014-15 year with knee problems, as he required surgery as well. If these guys go down again, the Knicks will be stuck with a lineup of Jennings, Lee, Lance Thomas, Porzingis, and Kyle O’Quinn. Obviously, that is not a playoff lineup, so it is crucial that the key pieces to the team stay healthy for the team to have a chance at success.
Looking at the roster currently, the Knicks should have a good shot at the postseason. If everyone can manage to stay healthy, the Knicks could be anywhere from a three seed to a six seed. I would struggle to name eight teams better than them, as every problem from last year seemed to be addressed. But if the injuries strike again, they may miss out completely on the playoffs. The Knicks haven’t made the postseason since 2013, and they had great chemistry, and played very well together. Carmelo Anthony proved in the past that he can lead this team, so don’t be surprised if he does it again.