The New York Knicks win in game 82 of the regular season against the Philadelphia 76ers may end up costing them big time.In what could very well have been Carmelo Anthony‘s final game in New York, the Knicks squeaked out a 114-113 victory over fellow bottom feeders, the Philadelphia 76ers. The victory provided them their 31st victory of the season, leveling them tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
However, based on tiebreakers, the Knicks now have the seventh-best chance of winning the lottery with the Timberwolves holding on to the sixth-best odds.
This is significant because, in the eyes of many, the talent pool levels off after the top six.
You have the two-star point guards, Markelle Fultz from Washington and Lonzo Ball from UCLA; the two stud wingers, Josh Jackson from Kansas and Jayson Tatum from Duke; and the Kentucky backcourt of point guard De’Aaron Fox and shooting guard Malik Monk.
After those six, the drop off is present. It isn’t a canyon by any means, but you go from six established upper tier talents to guys with considerable question marks.
There’s Jonathan Isaac, a 6-foot-10 combo forward who tailed off considerably towards the end of the season and doesn’t necessarily fill a need (the Knicks obviously have Kristaps Porzingis at the four).
You have point guards Dennis Smith and Frank Ntilikina, both of whom are not sure things: Smith’s NC State failed to make the tournament, and unlike Fultz, whose squad also didn’t make the tournament, Smith has some flaws in his game, such as a lack of height and some spotty three-point shooting. Ntilikina is a low-risk guard who plays defense and fits the triangle, but his selection is (A) a gamble, because he is an international prospect, and (B) would be discouraging because it would suggest that the Knicks are going to continue to run the triangle.
Other options include centers Jarrett Allen from Texas, Lauri Markkanen from Arizona, and Zach Collins from Gonzaga, none of whom have the ceiling of the top six, who could all become bona fide stars.
Obviously, it isn’t all doom and gloom yet. The Knicks could get lucky, and slide up one (or possibly more) spots in the lottery and grab a top six player. One of the teams above them could pass based off a lack of fit or need, allowing the Knicks to take advantage. Who knows, maybe one of the top six don’t pan out, or maybe the Knicks end up picking a player who winds up being better.
The point is, the Knicks late victory over the 76ers, despite ending the season on a high, may not have given the Knicks the best chance to win moving forward, a frustrating development to say the least. Here’s hoping that despite falling to the seventh-worst record in the NBA, the Knicks still manage to pick a productive future pro, top six or not.