The Knicks have been a disaster for the last 15 plus years. Outside of a 54 win 2013 season which ended in disappointment also we have had zero on the court success since the year 2000. To add to the misery we have had countless trades that have stunted any growth through the draft in these down years. The draft picks we have had have mostly been wasted until recently with Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hermangomez. To illustrate how bad the draft situation had been for this team let me show you some numbers and names. Since the Year 2000 the Knicks have played 16 seasons not including this season and including a strike shortened 2011-2012 seasons. Out of those years we have had only 4 winning seasons with 5 playoff appearances. In those seasons we have had 10 finishes 10th or worst in the eastern conference which would indicate we should have been in the lottery selecting. Now figure each season you get a first and second round pick minimum so the Knicks should have had at least 32 picks over those years with 10 lottery picks. Due to some horrible short sited trades the Knicks have only had 25 total picks in the last 16 seasons with 11 first round picks and 5 being lottery picks. A team with only 5 playoff appearances in 16 years you would figure would be able to trade assets and acquire more picks and not trade away lottery picks but not the Knicks. Now if you want to get sick let me show you who we actually drafted with the picks we didn’t give away for guys like Eddie Curry, Andrea Bargani, Antonio McDyess, and Stephon Marbury. Our lottery picks have been Mike Sweetney 9th overall, Channing Frye 8th overall, Danilo Galinari 6th overall, Jordan Hill 8th overall and Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall. Our first round picks have been David Lee, Renaldo Balkman, Wilson Chandler, Mardy Collins, Iman Shumpert, and Tim Hardaway. Our only notable second round picks in these years have been Trevor Ariza, Landry Fields, and Willy Hermangomez. This draft record is bad up until the selections of KP and Willy considering none of the other players are on the current roster and most have done very little in the NBA and even less for the Knicks. In the NBA you must draft superstars to build a team so it is clear why we have had such little success over the last 17 seasons including this season, however there is hope believe it or not. Let me explain….
The Knicks right now are 24-38 which is good for a tie of the 7th worst record in the NBA. On the surface we would appear to be going nowhere face as usual however if you dig a little deeper you will see the Knicks are actually close to contending despite the drama and record. Let me show you why as a lifelong Knicks fan I feel really good about this team moving forward and what needs to happen to actually contend. Here are the positives from this season moving forward which should make you feel better.
KP- the Knicks have blown the draft and draft picks for as long as I can remember up until they drafted KP and Willy in 2015. Say what you want about Phil Jackson but he nailed this draft. If you remember the pick of KP was booed and ridiculed by everyone and many Knicks fans were clamoring for Justice Winslow and Emmanuel Mudiay. Turns out falling to 4th in that draft may have saved the franchise from another 15 years of torture. KP simply put is a freakish basketball player and is heading for stardom. He is a coachable kid who loves basketball and wants to be great. He is our cornerstone and as good of a building block as you can ask for in the NBA. How good can KP really be? Compare his first and second season to future hall of famer Dirk Nowitzki a player’s KP has a lot of on court similarities to. Here are KP first and second season averages. Year 1, 14.3 ppg, 7.3 reb, and 1.9 blks. Year 2, 18.2 ppg, 7.1 rebs, and 1.9 Blks. Here are Dirks, Year 1, 8.2 ppg, 3.4 rebs, and 0.6 blks. Year 2, 17.5 ppg, 6.5 rebs and 0.8 blks. Dirk took off in year 3 and I fully expect KP to also.
Willy- Willy Hermangomez is a diamond in the rough for Phil Jackson and the type of draft pick the Spurs routinely make. A second round pick out of Spain Willy Hermangomez has come over to the NBA and proved to me he is another cornerstone player for the Knicks. Willy is not the most athletic center in the NBA but he is extremely skilled for a young big and has a high basketball IQ. Willy is a great rebounder on both ends of the court and a perfect complement to KP center due to his willingness to do the dirty work. What I like most about Willy is his ability to be coached and the fact he and KP played together overseas so the chemistry is there. Since Willy has been getting consistent minutes he has averaged nearly 10 point 10 rebounds and 1 block per game while showing the ability to pass. You cannot ask for more from a 22 year old center and to me I see a smaller version of Marc Gasol in the future.
Lottery Pick- Right now the Knicks not only have a first round pick but it is slated to be in the top 10. Luckily for us this is a loaded draft class especially at the point guard position. If we can add one of these young point guard to replace Derrick Rose and run the team we are set up for a lot of success for the future. That is why as a diehard Knick fan I have been rooting for the losses to keep piling up because this is our chance to add a young superstar guard to pair with our young front court of KP and Willy.
Melo- At the end of the day I am not the biggest Carmelo fan but I am not dense to the fact he is a great basketball player. So to me Melo is a positive and for 2 reasons. The first is if he stays here we will continue to have a bonfire go to scorer to take the pressure off of the other players especially KP. I think Melo has played an admirable season this year despite the drama surrounding him and with the right point guard in place I think his best basketball can be played. The second reason is if Melo is not here he is a trade chip that can bring us back some young assets. Regardless of what anyone says Melo is valuable and a team that is close might be willing to go after him this offseason. Now obviously Melo holds all the power with his no trade Clause but whatever happens with him I have to see him as a positive for the team moving forward.
Role Players- It is no secret to win it big in the NBA you need star power but you also need a solid group of role players to fill in the holes and bench in order to truly compete. The Knicks need another star to get back into the mix which we all hope they can draft this season but I think they are ahead of the game when it comes to role players. The Knicks have had some heartbreaking losses this season and really haven’t been blow off the court to many times. What this tells me is our bench and role guys have been solid. If you have no depth in the NBA you will be blown out and have no chance of beating any upper echelon teams. The Knicks have not won much but do sport wins over the Spurs, Wizards, Grizzlies, Hawks, 2 wins vs the Celtics, Pacers, and Bulls, and just recently played right with the Warriors. Again nothing to brag about but a sign overall there is talent on this roster. The role guys have been led by Courtney Lee and Kyle O’Quinn. Both guys have had great season in the minutes and roles they have had and should continue to be the foundation of our role players next season. The positive surprises for me in this group have been Justin Holiday and Mindaugas Kuzminskas. Both guys have shown an ability to play in this league and put up numbers in small minutes. Holiday is especially valuable for me because of his ability to defend the perimeter off the bench and knock down 3 pointers. He has also shown to be strong rebounder for a guard. Lance Thomas has come on strong after being injured much of the year and has once again shown his value and will have even more next season when he is a full time bench player. The X factor for me going into next season for this group is Joakim Noah. Goes without saying his production this season was horrid and his contract is worst but I do believe if used correctly next season he will have a positive impact for us. How should we use him next season? Simple 15-20 minutes backing up Willy Hermangomez. Noah’s only positive is his energy and defense and in a limited bench role I think he will be able to sustain some value for us. Noah and O’Quinn off the bench would form a headache on the offensive glass and in the defensive paint against second string players.
Cap Space- No the Knicks are not signing Steph Curry or anyone like that but we do have cap space to add some more solid NBA players. We should look to add a defensive minded wing such as PJ Tucker and must address the backup point guard position now that Brandon Jennings is out of town. Ron Baker is a nice story and plays hard but to me he is no more than a 3rd string player.
All in all with a few solid free agent signings and a home run in the draft to me the New York Knicks will be back sooner rather than later.