Fall is a beautiful time of year, Playoff baseball, Football, Hockey, and of course our New York Knicks season begins.
Normally there is no hope for anything around this time of year when it comes to the New York Knicks, however the tide is turning for this franchise. For the first time in ages, I feel really good about the Knicks season getting underway and the direction we are heading in. The average fan is probably saying, “What are you talking about, they will not make the playoffs, how can you be excited ?” They will also being saying, ” Kristaps Porzingis is not even going to play this year “. Both of these things are probably true but I do not care about that at all. What I do care about is developing the young core of this team, losing enough games to get a top 5 pick next year to add to the core, making sure Kristaps Porzingis is 100% healthy before stepping back on the court, and making the New York Knicks an appealing home for next summers big free agents to consider. Let me get you on my level and get you excited to watch this season despite the fact losses will pile up. Here are 5 things to be pumped about when it comes to the New York Knicks in 2018-2019.
#1-We now have a competent Head Coach who is respected around the league.
Jeff Hornacek was easily one of the worst head coaches in the NBA in his time with the New York Knicks. His concept of rotations was pretty comical looking back on it but infuriating at the time. He did not help develop the core of this team and nearly destroyed it by insulting Kristaps Porzingis. His teams played no defense and the effort was not there most nights. Bottom line, the players need to respect the Head coach and the Knicks did not respect Jeff Hornacek. In comes David Fizdale and already the team has a different energy. David Fizdale has been around the NBA for a while and did a pretty good job with Memphis Grizzlies as head coach. I believe David Fizdale learned from some of some of his mistakes in Memphis and is at the perfect place in his coaching career to lead this young team. David Fizdale has already committed to letting the young guy make mistakes and learn from them something our previous coach was unable to understand. I love the fact he is a guy who is going to let players play to their strengths and grow in roles without forgetting about defense and being worried about mistakes. I also love the fact he is building relationships with his current players, specifically Kristaps Porzingis, and brining back the Knicks history by having the older players such as Walt “Clyde” Frazier around the team. The Knicks are a proud franchise with a rich history so it is nice to see someone appreciating that because it creates a strong culture moving forward. The most important thing about David Fizdale for me is he is well liked around the league by players. This is important when it comes time to recruit free agents and keep guys here.
#2- The 2018 Draft class.
This draft class to me has the potential to turn around the New York Knicks franchise long term. No matter how you slice it you can not build a winning franchise unless you hit it big in the drafts. This year the New York Knicks selected Kevin Knox 9th overall, Mitchell Robinson 36th overall and signed undrafted free agent Alonzo Trier. Let start with Kevin Knox, this kid has all the tools to be a NBA All-Star. At 6’9 and a strong frame this kid at 18 years old is already physically ready for the NBA. He was the youngest player in the draft and he will only get bigger and stronger moving forward. As far as his game goes he reminds me a lot of Paul Pierce. A big Strong wing who can knock down mid-range jump shots along with the 3 ball. He has an ease to his offensive game that sometimes can make it hard to see his athleticism for what it is and I think that is a huge plus. Knox has already shown to be strong on the boards and I believe he is a guy who will be able to set up his team mates. Similar to Paul Pierce he should be able to average about 4 assists per game due to his ability to handle the ball and knock down jump shots commanding respect from defenses. He should be a terror in the pick and roll and I am excited to see him and Kristaps Porzingis killing teams for a long time with that play.
Speaking of the pick and roll, Mitchell Robinson is going to be another problem for defenses as the lob guy. He is so athletic to go with his size and has good hands. He is going to score 12 points a game once he is acclimated just on lobs. Mitchell Robinson to me is very comparable to Deandre Jordan and I see his career developing the same way. Some people have compared him to Clint Capela which makes sense because of his lob game in Houston but Mitchell Robinson is a legit 7-1 compared to Clint Capela who is 6’10 tops. As Mitchell Robinson fills out his frame which has room for growth due to his wide shoulders he is going to be a force down low. I said it at the time I would have considered him with the 9th pick overall after watching his workout tapes. I know if the NBA drafted today he would be a lottery pick no doubt. The only reason he dropped was due to the fact he did not play in college and people questioned his mentality out there and commitment. I have seen nothing out of him that has me questioning his mentality or commitment and I think as he learns the game we will be talking about him a one of the top centers in the NBA. He already has shown his ability to block shots and his ability to guard the pick and roll is uncanny. I have already seen him block at least 3 jump shots in pick and roll defense, that’s special. The combination of him and Kristaps Porzingis is going to be fun to watch protecting the paint. Steal of the draft night be an understatement when all is said and done when talking about Mitchell Robinson.
Speaking of steals Alonzo Trier is looking like another one. He was not drafted due to his college suspensions for steroid use and thankfully the Knicks were able to sign him. To me taking steroids shows me the kid will do anything to be the best and I know that is morally wrong but that’s a case for another day. Alonzo Trier has shown a great ability to dribble drive and at 6’5 200 pounds he is able to finish around the hoop and draw fouls. He has also shown to be a plus mid range jump shooter with 3 point range. Watching him put up 25 points vs the Nets this preseason shows me he is a legit offensive talent. This kid will make the team and I expect him to make an impact for the Knicks this season.
#3- 2019 Draft Class
The Knicks are going to lose their fair share of games without Kristaps Porzingis this year while developing the youth. Next years draft is a good one to be at the top of. If we land in the top 5 we will be adding another potential NBA All-Star. The top 5 guys in next years draft are R.J Barrett SG, Cameron Reddish SG, Sekou Doumouya SF/PF, Zion Williamson SF/PF and Nassir Little SF. Not only are all these guys studs they are super athletic wing players which would fit nicely on this Knicks roster. I will be rooting for losses to ensure we get a chance at one of these guys. The losing will pay off huge for us starting in 2019-2020. The Sixers are proof some losing can lead to a lot of winning if done correctly.
#4- Frank Ntilikina becoming an All NBA defender
Frank Ntilikina put on 15 pounds and grew an inch and half from last season. His offensive game will need some work but he has already shown the ability to be a lock down defender on the wing. With the NBA’s movement toward small ball and perimeter play it is more important than ever to have guys who can guard on the ball and wings. Frank Ntilikina is going to be a top defensive player in this league this season and I think his offensive game will develop enough to make him a valuable member of a very good Knicks team moving forward.
#5- Trade assets
Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee are going to be valuable to good teams come the trade deadline. I think Enes Kanter is going to be worth a late first round pick to a playoff team and Courtney Lee will net us a second rounder. We see how valuable draft picks can be even late ones so these two guys are going to be very beneficial to us come trade deadline time.
This season comes down to development and the future. It will be fun to watch home-grown guys becoming great NBA players and all these bad years will be distant memories soon. I hope we hold out Kristaps Porzingis out until the last 10 games of the season in order to secure our spot in the lottery but make sure we show potential free agents he is ready to go. I think New York will be an attractive spot to a few of those big name free agents come next summer such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving(despite what he said), Jimmy Butler and even Kawhi Leonard. Bottom line this team is moving in the right direction and the New York Knicks will be at the top of the Eastern Conference before we know it.