The New York Knicks season has sputtered and the fanbase is left without many positives. Here are three things that actually went well for the Knickerbockers in the first half.
New York Knicks fans are some of the loudest and most miserable fanbases in all of sports. The organization has only won one playoff series since the 2000-2001 season and since that time, the team has only managed to qualify for the postseason five times. Following the devastating injury Kristaps Porzingis sustained, it’s understandable why some fans are throwing their hands up in the air. This season and in all likelihood, next season are lost. Without their stud, the Knicks are unlikely to make a legitimate push towards the playoffs until the 2019-2020 season. Knicks fans have been patiently waiting for a group that will establish themselves as perennial contenders. Unfortunately, they’re probably going to have to wait a bit longer.
On the bright side, there were a few positives from the first half of this season that Knicks fans can hold onto. The Knicks should be fun to watch while also having a vision for the future. You can start to see positives in this season when you look at it from that perspective. Maybe this is looking at the first half through rose-colored glasses, but that’s about all you can do at this point.
Kristaps Porzingis Can Lead an Offense
Porzingis has come a long way from being booed on draft night. He is the darling of New York and he really took on that role at the beginning of the season when he went off on a scoring tear that had him in the all-too-early talks for MVP. Prior to his season-ending injury, Porzingis was having a career year and was even voted to his first All-Star Game.
After losing the first three games of the season, there was little to be optimistic about. But after the team’s inauspicious start, Porzingis announced his arrival. Over his next 10 games, KP would go on to average 30 points per game on 51 percent shooting from the floor and 42 percent shooting from three. The Knicks won eight of 11 during that stretch (Porzingis was inactive in a loss to the Magic). Not to mention, he averaged 2.6 blocks per game during that stretch as well.
During that stretch, KP had maybe the best game of his career. Against the Pacers, Porzingis scored 40 points and recorded six blocks. He showcased everything he could do on offense. He was the driving force in a second-half comeback that had Madison Square Garden jumping.
No doubt KP took his lumps at certain points this season, but it’s clear that he’s capable of being the focal point of a successful NBA offense. Successful returns from knee injuries are becoming more common throughout the league. It’s never a sure thing, but guys like Jabari Parker and Ricky Rubio have made successful returns from ligament tears. If KP can return to his first-half form, the Knicks offense will have its centerpiece.
Michael Beasley is a Gift
Michael Beasley has always been a polarizing figure in basketball. His style of play and his brash demeanor can rub people the wrong way. He has struggled to find a place in the league. Regardless of what you may or may not think of Beasley, he is one of the most talented offensive players of his generation. That isn’t an overstatement or an overreaction. He has all the offensive tools, he’s just always struggled to put it together (and hold it together for long).
B-Easy has become a bit of a safety valve for Jeff Hornacek. On nights when KP wasn’t producing he often turned to The Walking Bucket to provide a scoring lift. Beasley has been thrust into a more prominent role lately and the only thing Knicks fans can do is try and enjoy every second of it.
Beasley has given Knicks fans some fantastic performances this year. Against the Celtics at home, he took over for the aforementioned Porzingis and led the way to victory while being showered with chants of, “MVP! MVP! MVP!” He scored 32 points off the bench and showed why he was the second overall pick in the draft once upon a time.
He gets MVP chants when he’s playing well, but he also gets standing ovations when he’s at his worst. After fouling out in a mere 10 minutes of play, the Garden crowd showed their love with a standing ovation as Beasley made his way to the bench. It’s not always good, but he keeps you guessing.
But Beasley’s scoring prowess is only part of his growing legend. Earlier in the season after Manu Ginobili threw an alley-oop directly into the basket, Beasley grabbed the ball and took off on a fast break as if the errant pass didn’t miraculously pass through the net.
Beasley has become a fan favorite in the Garden exactly because of moments like this. The things he does will make you jump out of your chair or leave you scratching your head, but excitement is his common denominator. When Michael Beasley is playing, you pay for the whole seat, but you’re only going to need the edge of it.
By all accounts, it seems like Beasley is enjoying New York and he may have found his niche. There’s a possibility that he re-signs with the Knicks in the offseason. The Knicks will need to find offense until Porzingis returns and Beasley could be a stop-gap for the time being.
Precious Draft Picks
The Knicks didn’t make the typical Knicks mistakes the franchise has become known for. They haven’t dealt any of their first-round draft picks in an attempt to make a big splash or possibly unload the contract of Joakim Noah. Safeguarding these first-round picks is essential to the overall well-being of the franchise. For other teams, this is standard operating procedure, but for the Knicks, this is a something to applaud.
Unfortunately, the tank may have started a bit too late. A hot start to the season combined with a glut of teams vying for the top pick may leave the Knicks on the outside looking in on the top five or six picks in the draft. Per Tankathon, the Knicks currently sit in the ninth lottery spot and it would take a miracle for them to shimmy their way into the top five in the draft.
Fortunately, this may be one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory. Highly touted players like Mikal Bridges, Kevin Knox, and Miles Bridges are all realistic possibilities for the Knicks if they can manage to remain in the top 10 of this draft. Retaining your picks is one thing, but drafting the right guy is a whole different story. The jury is still out on rookie point guard and former eighth overall pick Frank Ntilikina. But if he can develop into a starting caliber player and the Knicks hit on their 2018 draft pick, the organization could be poised to take that next step towards contending.
While these may not be enough for some, this season hasn’t been a complete loss thus far. There’s hope for the future in KP and the potential draft picks. And at the very least, Michael Beasley will give you something to smile about each and every game. So my advice to Knicks fans: put on these rose-colored glasses and enjoy the last few months of the season.