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New York Knicks: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

The Knicks are now Kristaps Porzingis' team with Carmelo Anthony out of town, but can the Unicorn lead a flawed roster to respectability this season?


Offseason Recap

Arrivals: Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Michael Beasley, Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack, Damyean Dotson

Departures: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Chasson Randle, Maurice Ndour, Sasha Vujacic, Marshall Plumlee

It was another tumultuous offseason in New York. The first domino to fall was president Phil Jackson who was finally let go shortly after drafting 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina because of his fit in Jackson’s triangle offense. 

Ntilikina was picked ahead of the likes of Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk, two more exciting score-first guards who could’ve helped the team more this season. While the Frenchman will have the opportunity to play immediately, it remains to be seen just how NBA-ready he really is.

The Knicks opted not to re-sign their trio of free-agent veteran point guards, including Derrick Rose. However, they didn’t exactly bring in any players who will make the team appreciably better at that position, which will be a major concern. Instead, they threw a $71 million deal to bring back Tim Hardaway Jr., which was another laughably bad Knicks move.

And last but not least, the long drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony has finally concluded with the Knicks shipping him off to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The package the Knicks ultimately received for Melo – Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round Bulls pick – was not quite as bad as what the Pacers got for Paul George, who is younger and arguably better than Melo, but it was still a bad deal. 

On the bright side, though, New York will finally get to start over, with Kristaps Porzingis set to be handed over the reins to the team this season. 

Projected Depth Chart

C – Willy Hernangomez / Joakim Noah / Kyle O’Quinn

PF – Kristaps Porzingis / Enes Kanter / Lance Thomas

SF – Michael Beasley / Doug McDermott / Mindaugas Kuzminskas

SG – Tim Hardaway Jr. / Courtney Lee / Damyean Dotson

PG – Ron Baker / Frank Ntilikina / Ramon Sessions / Jarrett Jack

Strengths

The Knicks were one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league last season. Of course, they had a lot of chances to grab offensive boards because they shot so poorly, but even by offensive rebounding rate, they were top five in the league.

Noah, when healthy, was a beast on the offensive boards, while Hernangomez, O’Quinn, and Porzingis also contributed well. And after adding another excellent offensive rebounder in Kanter to the mix, they should be one of the best offensive rebounding team in the league again.

The Knicks were also fairly decent at protecting the paint. They were in the top ten in opponents’ field goal percentage on shots from less than five feet and were fourth in total blocked shots. But again, a big reason for that high blocks total was their perimeter defenders kept letting players get to the paint in the first place.

And, of course, they have Porzingis, AKA “The Unicorn,” who is just about the perfect big man in this modern NBA because of his ability to do close to everything (except rebound at a high rate). If they could just utilize him correctly (read: play him as a center and surrounded by capable shooters), this Knicks offense might finally emerge from mediocrity. But with an army of centers currently on the roster and their overall lack of shooting, it’s hard to see that happening anytime soon.

Weaknesses

New York have hands down the worst point guard situation in the league. Ron Baker, who was undrafted last season, is set to start for them at the point. They do have young Ntilikina, but he’s just a teenager and might not be ready for a couple of years at least. Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack may not even be competent backups at this point of their careers.

It’s really hard to see how this team puts together an above-average offense with those point guards facilitating things. They won’t even have the option of just giving the ball to Anthony or Rose, who could at least make something happen in isolation. There will be a lot of pressure on Porzingis to bail this team out offensively.

The Knicks were dead-last in defensive rebounding rate last season and it’s tough to see them improving too significantly in that department. The same goes with their defense overall, which was sixth-worst in the league. Of all the new faces they brought in this summer, teenager Ntilikina is easily the best of them all.

There’s a chance the Knicks finally decide to shoot more threes with Jackson no longer around to peddle his triangle offense. However, they are still lacking proven knockdown shooters who can actually make those attempts count.

Player to Watch – Kristaps Porzingis

This is finally it for the Latvian. After taking a backseat to the likes of Melo and Rose in his first couple of years, the Unicorn is set to be the focal point of the Knicks offense. Everyone knows about Porzingis’ ability to hit threes, but now he will have the license to expand his offensive game even more. 

The 22-year-old will have the elbows – Melo’s favorite spot – all to himself, where he can look to take his man off the dribble or rise up for nearly unblockable fadeaway jumpers. There will be ample opportunities for Porzingis to display his array of offensive skills on this team.

However, it won’t be a walk in the park for the youngster. He will inevitably have some struggles, especially as he plays with a supporting cast that doesn’t maximize his strengths. It will be just as interesting to see how Porzingis reacts to adversity and if he has the mentality to be the leader of this team.

2017/18 Schedule

1 Oct 19, 2017 @ Oklahoma City Thunder    

2 Oct 21, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons    

3 Oct 24, 2017 @ Boston Celtics    

4 Oct 27, 2017 vs. Brooklyn Nets    

5 Oct 29, 2017 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

6 Oct 30, 2017 vs. Denver Nuggets    

7 Nov 1, 2017 vs. Houston Rockets    

8 Nov 3, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns    

9 Nov 5, 2017 vs. Indiana Pacers    

10 Nov 7, 2017 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

11 Nov 8, 2017 @ Orlando Magic    

12 Nov 11, 2017 vs. Sacramento Kings    

13 Nov 13, 2017 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers    

14 Nov 15, 2017 vs. Utah Jazz    

15 Nov 17, 2017 @ Toronto Raptors    

16 Nov 20, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers    

17 Nov 22, 2017 vs. Toronto Raptors    

18 Nov 24, 2017 @ Atlanta Hawks    

19 Nov 25, 2017 @ Houston Rockets    

20 Nov 27, 2017 vs. Portland Trail Blazers    

21 Nov 29, 2017 vs. Miami Heat    

22 Dec 3, 2017 vs. Orlando Magic    

23 Dec 4, 2017 @ Indiana Pacers    

24 Dec 6, 2017 vs. Memphis Grizzlies    

25 Dec 9, 2017 @ Chicago Bulls    

26 Dec 10, 2017 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

27 Dec 12, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Lakers    

28 Dec 14, 2017 @ Brooklyn Nets    

29 Dec 16, 2017 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder    

30 Dec 18, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets    

31 Dec 21, 2017 vs. Boston Celtics    

32 Dec 22, 2017 @ Detroit Pistons    

33 Dec 25, 2017 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

34 Dec 27, 2017 @ Chicago Bulls    

35 Dec 28, 2017 @ San Antonio Spurs    

36 Dec 30, 2017 @ New Orleans Pelicans    

37 Jan 2, 2018 vs. San Antonio Spurs    

38 Jan 3, 2018 @ Washington Wizards    

39 Jan 5, 2018 @ Miami Heat    

40 Jan 7, 2018 @ Dallas Mavericks    

41 Jan 10, 2018 vs. Chicago Bulls    

42 Jan 12, 2018 @ Minnesota Timberwolves    

43 Jan 14, 2018 vs. New Orleans Pelicans    

44 Jan 15, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets    

45 Jan 17, 2018 @ Memphis Grizzlies    

46 Jan 19, 2018 @ Utah Jazz    

47 Jan 21, 2018 @ Los Angeles Lakers    

48 Jan 23, 2018 @ Golden State Warriors    

49 Jan 25, 2018 @ Denver Nuggets    

50 Jan 26, 2018 @ Phoenix Suns    

51 Jan 30, 2018 vs. Brooklyn Nets    

52 Jan 31, 2018 @ Boston Celtics    

53 Feb 2, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks    

54 Feb 4, 2018 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

55 Feb 6, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

56 Feb 8, 2018 @ Toronto Raptors    

57 Feb 11, 2018 @ Indiana Pacers    

58 Feb 12, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

59 Feb 14, 2018 vs. Washington Wizards    

60 Feb 22, 2018 @ Orlando Magic    

61 Feb 24, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics    

62 Feb 26, 2018 vs. Golden State Warriors    

63 Mar 2, 2018 @ Los Angeles Clippers    

64 Mar 4, 2018 @ Sacramento Kings    

65 Mar 6, 2018 @ Portland Trail Blazers    

66 Mar 9, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks    

67 Mar 11, 2018 vs. Toronto Raptors    

68 Mar 13, 2018 vs. Dallas Mavericks    

69 Mar 15, 2018 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

70 Mar 17, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

71 Mar 19, 2018 vs. Chicago Bulls    

72 Mar 21, 2018 @ Miami Heat    

73 Mar 23, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves    

74 Mar 25, 2018 @ Washington Wizards    

75 Mar 26, 2018 @ Charlotte Hornets    

76 Mar 28, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

77 Mar 31, 2018 vs. Detroit Pistons    

78 Apr 3, 2018 vs. Orlando Magic    

79 Apr 6, 2018 vs. Miami Heat    

80 Apr 7, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

81 Apr 9, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers    

82 Apr 11, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

Prediction

The Knicks are almost surely going to be one of the worst teams in the East once again. Their only saving grace is that there may be at least three teams worse than them although neighbors Brooklyn are a legitimate threat to overtake them.

Their point guard situation is just a mess and the offense will suffer as a result. Meanwhile, the defense could be just as bad as it was last year. Porzingis will play hard and will likely put up some big numbers, but there isn’t much around him to lift this team beyond mediocrity.

How do you see the Knicks’ season going? Let us know in the comments below!

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Brad Taningco

Brad Taningco has been a RealSport NBA contributor since Decemeber 2016. But apart from basketball, he's also a fan of soccer, American football, baseball, and ice hockey.

New York Knicks: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

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