With the newly formed New York Knicks eager to get started, there will be no better place than Milwaukee tonight against Jason Kidd’s Bucks.
By David Hong
The 2015-2016 NBA season will tip off this week with the New York Knicks beginning play on Wednesday against the Bucks in Milwaukee.
During the 2014-2015 season, the Knicks suffered through their worst regular season in franchise history with a 17-65 record. Their 17 wins were the fewest ever in a season for the Knicks.
In the offseason, Knicks president Phil Jackson made some moves in order to improve this team (which we all knew was necessary).
The Knicks did not make any attractive All-Star moves that would’ve appealed to the fans, but they still made some useful moves that should benefit this squad. I think that’s the way for a team like NY to slowly get back to respectability.
First, the Knickerbockers went out and acquired shooting guard Arron Afflalo. He provides some perimeter scoring which should take some pressure off Carmelo Anthony offensively. In addition, he is also a solid perimeter defender. Afflalo will miss at least the first two weeks of the season with an injury but he should be back soon and ready to contribute.
The Knicks added a premier big man in center Robin Lopez. Lopez may not be as gifted a scorer as his twin brother from the Brooklyn Nets, Brooks Lopez is. But Robin is a good low post defender who provides some rim protection. He is also a good rebounder and a smart player who will do the little things necessary.
The Knicks then signed former No. 2 draft pick Derrick Williams. Williams has been a bust since getting picked second in the first round behind Kyrie Irving back in 2011. But so far Williams has looked good in preseason, showing a lot of the athleticism that he always has. If Williams can improve his outside shooting and defense, he can be a steal for the Knicks and maybe finally fulfill some of that potential that he hasn’t shown in the NBA so far.
The Knicks also went out and signed Kyle O’Quinn from the Orlando Magic. O’Quinn is an unknown secret who has more potential that what most people saw from him. He is a big power forward who will add size, rebounding, blocked shots and some mid range shooting.
Other signings the Knicks made, was acquiring Kevin Seraphin who will be the backup center. And they also signed former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Sasha Vujacic. Vujacic is a good outside shooter who is familiar with Phil Jackson’s triangle offense back when he was a Laker.
The Knicks also have two new rookies they got in the NBA draft. First they acquired No. 4 pick Kristaps Porzingis from Lapland. It might take a few years for Porzingis to fully develop into a solid player. But he has potential with his outside shooting and moving around the basket which is impressive for a big man like him. As long he develops and he gains more pounds, the Knicks can possibly have a future franchise player right here.
The Knicks also got point guard Jerian Grant in a draft day trade with the Atlanta Hawks that sent Tim Hardaway Jr to the Hawks. This could be a steal. Grant can play both guard positions and provides some scoring and has the intangibles to be a solid defender as well.
So looking at the 2015-2016 Knicks. They’re still far away from a contender. But they should definitely improve upon last season’s disaster.
Carmelo Anthony will be back after missing all of the second half with a knee injury. Anthony may not have the ideal supporting cast that he never had in his career but he will have better role players around him than last year. The Knicks, who were a terrible defensive team last year, could improve with Afflalo, Lopez and O’Quinn.
Jose Calderon is still around and if he can stay healthy, he will provide outside scoring and someone who can fit in the triangle offense. Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson who provided some surprising contributions last year as holdovers, are back as well.
Derek Fisher who had a tough learning experience in his first year as head coach, should be more comfortable in his role.
Like I said, the Knicks are still major contributions away from a championship contender. they might not even be a playoff contender this season either. But for a team that only won 17 games last season, they had to start from scratch and rebuild with small, solid players.
In the acquisitions that Phil made in the offseason, I believe this is a nice start, I know Melo is not getting any younger but we all knew none of the big name free agents would come to NY yet with their current situation. So they had to first get solid role players and move from there.
It’s going to be another losing season but it should definitely be better than that 17 win squad. I’d say they can win at least 30 games this season.
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