New York Knicks 2014-15 Preview

10
Oct

2013-14 record: 37-45

Key Additions: Cleanthony Early, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Samuel Dalembert, Quincy Acy, Travis Outlaw, Jason Smith

Key Departures: Jeremy Tyler, Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, Chris Smith

Projected 2014-15 Lineup: PG Jose Calderon SG: Iman Shumpert SF: Carmelo Anthony PF: Andrea Bargnani C Samuel Dalembert

As you can see above, this Knicks team went through a ridiculous amount of personnel changes in the offseason. But the most important piece didn’t change. Carmelo Anthony ultimately opted to stay in The Big Apple and play for the franchise’s new leader Phil Jackson. The addition of Jackson has more than a few analysts (and many more fans) thinking that this team could find a way to bring dominance to New York again, if not in 2014-15, in the near future.

But the thing is, the triangle isn’t magic. Michael Jordan is magic. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin are unstoppable. The same can be said for Kobe Bryant and Shaq. Phil Jackson’s teams haven’t dominated because of the triangle, they’ve dominated because of the talent. Michael Jordan could have played iso offense for 44 minutes per game and the Bulls would have still likely won a handful of titles. Just because this is a Phil Jackson team doesn’t mean that suddenly Anthony and Smith are going to look like MJ and Pippin.

It’s also worth remembering that this isn’t actually Phil’s team. This is Derek Fisher’s team. For as much as people are saying that Fisher is merely Jackson’s puppet, it’s Fisher who will be holding a clipboard on the sidelines1 for 82 games. And because of that, I don’t believe he’s going to get to that coveted 83rd game.

Anthony is obviously going to be the big player here, but I think he made a fairly big mistake staying in New York, at least if his goal is to win a championship. Had he joined the Bulls, that team would have been beyond dominant. The same could be said for a few of the other places he received offers. On this Knicks team, that’s far from the case. When you look at their roster, there just isn’t a supporting cast around Melo. There are a few good players, a lot of solid players, but there’s not anyone who’s great. Sure, Stoudemire was a half decade ago, and Shumpert is fun to watch, but they aren’t the sort of main pieces to build a contender around, at least not in 2014. One of them is three years too late, the other three years too early.

They did add some solid young players. Early has the potential to be a solid piece for this team in a few years and the same can be said for Shane Larkin, but again, that’s a few years off. They both may have games where flashes of the future can be seen, but for the most part, it’s going to be growing pains.

This Knicks team is going to be really competitive at times, but they’re going to be walking a fragile line, and with how many fragile players they have, I’d be surprised if there isn’t some major injury time to factor in. The result is going to be another disappointing season in the Garden.

X-Factor: Andrea Bargnani

I’ve been a big fan of Bargnani since he came into the league, but for the most part his career has been rather disappointing. He’s been streaky, but overwhelmingly mediocre. Still, I don’t think that he’s done. There’s still some life left in the Roman Rebounder.2 If he starts playing offense like he should and is able to stay on the court, he’s going to be in for a big payday in the offseason, and likely help the Knicks to a few more wins along the way.

Who Has The Most To Prove: J.R. Smith

New York faithful go on and on about how Smith has the potential to morph into an all-star caliber player at any time. Well, if that’s the case, it’s time for J.R. to go out and do it. No more sloppy play, no more errant shots, no more untying shoes. Just play basketball and play it the way it’s meant to be played. Because when Smith does that, he really is a quality player. Not a star by any means, but a guy who’d be able to have a spot on any team. But if he keeps up the shenanigans, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of teams pass on him come free agency.

Why They’re Worth Watching:

It’s time to see how a first time coach, Phil Jackson’s guidance and Anthony’s shot can mold together. I stand by Anthony being the most dynamic scorer in the NBA, and if Jackson’s offense works for him, he could flirt with averaging 30 per game this season. I’m not predicting he does, just saying it’s a possibility. And if he does that, I certainly don’t want to miss it.

Best Case: Melo averages 30, Derek Fisher is the next great basketball mind, and Stoudemire stays healthy for the entire season. 44 wins.

Worst Case: All the bigs end up getting hurt, we have to watch 44 minutes of all rookie lineups, and JR Smith emerges as the spiritual leader of the team. 32 wins and twice that many nights of Melo looking at pictures of the Windy City through teary eyes.

Projected Record: 37-45


  1. Do any coaches still use clipboards? 

  2. I’m trying really hard on these nicknames this season 

About the author: Alex Lowe

A former college athlete in a sport that no one cared about, Alex now spends most of his days being a furiously biased Bulls and Braves fan. When he's not busy with that, he still imagines his 5'7" self making an improbable rise to NBA stardom.