Entering the 2018-2019 season, Knicks fans are excited for a new era of basketball. They will have their eyes and ears locked on these ten storylines.
Despite countless years of losing, poor management, ridiculous contracts, and off-the-court shenanigans, Knicks fans will once again be piling into MSG by the dozens to watch their favorite team. A congregation of masochists, Knicks fans stick together, even in the hardest of times.
The Knick fan is so loyal, you don’t even need to win to keep him/her happy all the time. You just need a plan. Imagine that. Even if you tell the Knick fan that he/she needs to endure some losing over the next several seasons, they’ll buy into it, as long as there is a plan.
They’ve added young talent to their roster, made relatively smart financial decisions, and hired staff with good reputations and good relationships around the league.
New head coach David Fizdale has dazzled fans and media with his charisma, and while it’s early, his players seem to be responding as well. Even with Kristaps Porzingis set to miss most of the season, fans are still rabidly excited to watch rookie Kevin Knox and second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina.
With everything to play for, and future success on the horizon, here are your top ten storylines for the 2018-2019 season.
10. One and Done?
As they have done in the past several years, the Knicks have made some smart financial decisions, taking small chances on forgotten talent in the NBA. This year’s version of Michael Beasley and Jarret Jack take the form of Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja.
Vonleh and Hezonja are both signed to one-year deals and both are former lottery picks. Vonleh was drafted ninth by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2014 NBA draft. The Hornets gave up on him after one season, and after a stop in Portland, Vonleh posted career highs in minutes per game, rebounds per game, and points per game with the Chicago Bulls.
Vonleh comes to the Knicks as a big with athleticism and a reputation as a good rebounder. However, if he wants to turn this one-year deal into more with another team in the league, the man needs a jump shot.
Per basketball-reference.com, Vonleh is a career 33 percent shooter from distances between three to ten feet from the basket. He’s a 37 percent shooter from distances between ten to 16 feet from the basket. For Vonleh to really fill the void of Kyle O’Quinn, he will need to develop his jumper.
Hezonja has a similar backstory. Drafted fifth by the Orlando Magic in 2015, Hezonja was a highly touted product out of Barcelona, but just didn’t have the same impact in the NBA.
After the Magic made a somewhat surprisingly early decision not to exercise their fourth-year option for Hezonja, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel summed up Hezonja’s Magic career with the Magic perfectly.
“The 6-foot-8 Croatian has not established a permanent foothold in the Magic’s playing rotation, and he has struggled at times to fit into the team’s defensive scheme. Although he has shown flashes of shooting skill…he did not hit shots consistently during his first two seasons in the league.”
Hezonja did post-career-highs in points per game and assists, giving the Knicks enough they felt they needed to take a flyer on a former top-five draft pick. Coach Fizdale likely sees Hezonja’s height and length and envisions him as a secondary or even tertiary play-maker on the floor.
With an injury to KP, Hezonja has a big shot to make some noise at either forward position. His NBA future will most likely depend on it.