The Knicks open on October 19th in Oklahoma City, taking on a revamped Thunder team that includes Paul George and former Knick, Carmelo Anthony. What a coincidence. Carmelo Anthony will play his first game in a Thunder uniform against his former team.
The Knicks are almost unrecognizable this season without faces like Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, but the subtraction that has most Knick fans jumping for joy is the firing of Phil Jackson.
During Phil’s tenure, the Knicks went 80-166 record to go along with unnecessary distractions. Whether it was throwing basketball legend, Charles Oakley out of MSG; grilling Carmelo Anthony in the media, letting Kristaps Porzingis skip his exit meeting, or jamming the triangle down the throats of his players; his time in New York was a disaster.
The 2017-18 Knicks have new faces like 1st round pick, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Doug Mcdermott, and Enes Kanter. The Knicks have noticeably gotten younger and will showcase a projected starting lineup that has players under 30 years old in each position except at shooting guard with Courtney Lee.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Frank Ntilikina (PG):
Even though Knicks coach, Jeff Hornacek, has said that Ntilikina will most likely come off the bench, every fan in NY wants him to start. The Knicks used an 8th overall pick to draft him and Ntilikina spent all last year over in France playing pro basketball at the age of 18.
Let’s face it, the Knicks don’t have many other options. They have veterans Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack. Those two are the last two players that Knicks fans want to see starting over their coveted first round pick. Even if one of those two veterans do start over Ntilikina to start the year, the Knicks will make the change at point guard.
Courtney Lee (G):
Lee played in 77 games last season averaging 10.8 points per game and over 1 steal per game. Lee is a very solid player that can give you production on both sides of the court. Lee also possesses a very lethal shot from deep. He shot 40% from behind the arc last year which puts with the top 3 point shooters in the league.
This turned Lee into the prototypical 3 and D player that the NBA has nowadays. Lee still has 3 more years and around $40 million left on his deal, so expect him to be on the court right before tipoff against the Thunder.
Tim Hardaway (G):
Hardaway began his career with the Knicks in 2013 after he was drafted with the 24th overall pick out of Michigan. Hardaway began his Knick career with a bang and was always known for bringing a lot of energy. Up to this point, the most notable accolade in Hardaway’s career was putting on a show in the rising stars game, scoring 36 points to go along with 7 three point shots made. He also finished 5 in the NBA rookie of the year voting and was a first-team all rookie league selection.
Then he got traded to the Hawks in the 2015 season and never really blossomed into the player that people thought he would be. The Knicks obviously think he can be a star as they gave him a brand new four-year $71 million contract. He has a lot to live up to, but Knicks fans should be excited to see the biggest acquisition of the offseason get his feet wet again on the court of MSG this season.
Kristaps Porzingis (F):
Porzingis is an absolute stud. This is going to be a big year for the young Latvian as this is his first year without the shadow of Carmelo Anthony. This team is now his team. Porzingis had a great rookie year, followed by an average sophomore campaign. Expect Porzingis to have a fantastic year if he can stay healthy. Staying healthy was the issue last year as he missed 16 games last year. He is still only 22 years old so expect some bumps in the road but one thing is for certain. The upside is high for the 7 foot, 3 inch Latvian monster.
Enes Kanter (C):
Kanter has been a solid player throughout his career. When the Knicks acquired him, along with two other players for Carmelo Anthony, there was a lot of excitement. Kanter has spent the last 3 seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder and has averaged 15 points to along with 8 rebounds. He mostly came off the bench in OKC but the Knicks need scoring and Kanter gives them exactly that.
Willy Hernangomez is also a great option at Center for the Knicks. In his rookie year, he averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds. We’ll see which way the Knicks want to go. But this is the one position where the Knicks are stacked at. Personally, I don’t care who is starting at the Center position, just as long as it’s not Joakim Noah.
Projected Record (38-44):
Without Phil Jackson trying to engrave the triangle offense, the Knicks will make a significant jump this year. Jeff Hornacek, who was brought here for his offensive mind, now has full control over what he wants to do with this offense. He now has the ability to make significant strides on the defensive end as well without Carmelo Anthony.
This team is young and energetic. Since former Knick coach Mike Woodson left, they haven’t been good at all on the defensive end. it’s important that Hornacek makes his players work on the defensive end this year because that is the only chance the Knicks will have. Knicks fans will be happy with how the year will go but the fact of the matter is, they just don’t have enough talent to win more than 40 games.