My New York Knicks out of the top 5? BLASPHEMY!! But the sad fact, was that there was just no way these guys could end up any higher.
Something about the utter, rip-your-eyes-out sorrow of last year has me kind of bullish about this year’s team. Not quite the sneak into the 8th seed optimism that some better men than I have guaranteed, but more just a general belief that this will be a friskier, not getting blown out every single night, competitive group. And, after the kind of horrowshow franchise worst season that no one outside of the sad part of Los Angeles can understand, I would be totally okay with that.
I’m not gonna lie and say we didn’t have a giant strikeout over the offseason and whiff pretty mightily on anyone who might have been able to bring this franchise back a little piece of respectability. While there are different opinions on how we did with our scrambling plan-B options, I think it’s safe to say that most fans would rather have the antics of Robin Lopez than a last second big-man pick up like Roy Hibbert or Zaza Pachulia in Dallas. More importantly than those acquisitions though, (and Afflalo still has yet to play a single minute in the regular season), is the gambles we took on younger, athletic talents, trading Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Hawks for the rights to draft Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and guaranteeing less than $1 million in salary for last year’s 3rd team All-Rookie (and still somehow shooting above 60% from three) player Langston Galloway.
The real big move of the summer, and one that may go down in the history of this franchise (FINGERS CROSSED) was the selection of Kristaps Porzingis with the 4th overall pick. TAKE ALL OF THOSE VIDEOS OFF OF THE INTERNET RIGHT NOW!! I have to say that I was a skeptic with the pick; WordPress crashed and lost my 1,200 word article on the choice, but I was very high on Mudiay at the time and was bemoaning the fact that our insistence on using the triangle would keep us from going after the better talent. Yup, I’ve already punched myself in the face several times for those thoughts. This kid might just have it all. He’s got the touch in the pick-and-pop. He’s got the putback slams. He leads the team in rebounds and leads most of the league in offensive rebound percentage. He wants to emulate Russell Westbrook’s fire and his hero is Kobe Bryant who he just swept off Madison Square Garden for the final time in the Mamba’s career. Even the fact that he averages more fouls per 36 minutes than anyone else in the NBA is awesome. He is just too much fun.
All of that together with a healthy Carmelo Anthony makes this Knicks team much less of a pushover than it was last year. And, towards that Melo point, it’s really impossible to understate how banged up he looked last year or how the utter lack of other NY scoring options allowed opposing defenses to happily triple team him. Melo gets a lot of garbage for his ball-stopping offense, and a lot of it rightfully deserved, but there are very few players in the Eastern Conference (hehe) as dangerous with the ball in their hands and just as few who are able to completely take over a game when they get hot. He’ll never end up being the best player on a championship team, but he’s been hated on for so long that he’s just about underrated again, which is a great place for him to be.
Look, I probably would’ve put the Knicks up in the top 5 even if they hadn’t made any of these acquisitions and had done some nonsense in the draft like trading down for Frank Kaminsky. This always has been, and always will be, an absolutely biased basketball website and that isn’t going to change. But, even so, after the first few games of the season these Knicks have absolutely been frisky. They went 2-1 to start the season against playoff teams, they played way over their heads for three quarters against the Spurs and Cavaliers, and they just smacked Kobe Bryant in the mouth with me sitting up near the front cheering my brains out. This still may not be a playoff team, but I think this year they can finally be able to give some non-fans the kind of entertainment they’ve always given me.