During the off-season, Derrick Rose proclaimed the New York Knicks as a “superteam.” A lot of people thought this was a joke, as Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were coming off a season in which their team finished 40-42, while missing the playoffs, and are half of the so-called super team. The starting lineup also includes an aging Carmelo Anthony, league-average shooting guard Courtney Lee and ssecond-yearbig man Kristaps Porzingis. Calling this a superteam is pretty far-fetched, especially with the coalition of a real superteam in the Golden State Warriors.
It’s pretty clear this squad isn’t a superteam, and that was shown through the first ten games or so of the season. So, how good is this team, and can they make some noise in the East?
The Knicks are off to an uninspiring 4-6 start. Rose is shooting 44% from the field, which isn’t too bad in comparison to his last three seasons, and is averaging about 15 points per game. Needless to say, he is not back to his MVP form and, unfortunately, likely never will be. The Knicks also rank dead last in defensive rating, allowing 107 points per 100 possessions. This number is astonishingly bad, as it puts them behind the tankerific 76ers as well as the shambles of the Sacramento basketball franchise. This is not a good sign for a team looking to make the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Part of the problem with New York is the lack of a usable bench. They are still somehow employing Sasha Vujačić, who stopped being productive on a basketball court about eight years ago. Lance Thomas leaves a lot to be desired as a wing player, Ron Baker is too young to be relied to play meaningful minutes, and Brandon Jennings still doesn’t look like himself since tearing his achilles two seasons ago.
There is reason for optimism for the Knicks bench, however. Justin Holiday provided a spark for the Knicks in their lopsided win against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs aren’t as good as they typically are, but it was still a nice win for New York. Holiday put up 16 points on 6-7 shooting, 2-3 from three, in a very efficient performance. If Holiday can build on this performance, the Knicks second-unit could pack more of a punch and help turn around this team.
In terms of fixing the defense, the starting unit needs more time to gel. They have a lot of new faces and a young player in Porzingis. Once they get more comfortable together, the defensive rating should go up. They could also experiment with throwing Justin Holiday in as a starter to provide some versatility with switching. The most important component is the development of Porzingis, however. If he reaches his potential of being able to switch screens and protect the rim, the Knicks could surprise a lot of teams with how stout they could be.
Though the early numbers aren’t looking great for the Knicks and the bench play has been mostly poor to this point, I think with some time the chemistry will iron out some of these issues. If this becomes true, don’t be surprised if the Knicks sneak into the playoffs as an 8-seed.
Collegian blogger John Scriffiny can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JScriff. Read more of his content here. Leave a comment!