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Can the Knicks be NBA Champions this year?

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With a lot of movement for the New York Knicks in the offseason, discussions have started to emerge about them that we have not heard for a long time now. Can the Knicks win it all this season? To some, it may seem foolish to ask this question, to others, it might sound reasonable. This article is written to look at the moves the organization has made this summer and the possible scenarios that will occur in the 2016-17 season. Will Melo be able to share the ball? Will Derrick Rose have a revival in the Big Apple? Can Porzingis have a breakout season? Those are all variables in which will determine the outcome of their season.

Best Case Scenario

First off, let's talk about the roster changes. As everyone knows, the Knicks targeted and acquired many big names this summer, Derrick Rose being the biggest. Alongside him, he will have his former Bull’s teammate Joakim Noah and other key role players such as Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. So the starting lineup will most likely look like Rose/Lee/Melo/Porzingis/Noah. The thing that strikes me right off the bat is the thought of Rose and Porzingis in a PnR situation.

Rose is a strong, athletic point guard who is also one of the best finishing point guards in the league. Porzingis is a rising young talent, whose height is unmatched (not to mention his wingspan) and can sky over anyone in his way, ask Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge. This means that the defense will have to choose one of two things, let Rose attack the hoop, or let Porzingis put you on the rough end of a #SCTop10 Twitter trend. Of course, you can’t forget about Carmelo Anthony.

Coming off winning his third Olympic gold medal, Melo will have a newfound determination to win. If he can share the ball with the likes of Rose and Porzingis, they could be a deadly trio. Another thing I notice when I see this lineup is something different each player brings to the team. Rose is another scoring option behind Melo, is a floor general, and has experience in the league. Courtney Lee is a great perimeter defender, and another reliable scoring option when playing with the bench. Melo is a superstar, although aging he can pretty much score at will. Porzingis is a shot blocker with length and has a decent mid-range game for his age. Joakim Noah is almost always a DPOY candidate and brings grit onto the court, not to mention he is a talented passing big.

With this starting lineup playing the majority of the minutes, they have a serious chance to do some damage in the East. However, I must finally say it, they will not win a championship. Regardless of how good chemistry is, how well Rose and Noah play coming off injuries, and how much scoring Melo is capable of, they can not compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In this best case scenario, they go 58-24 and finish second in the East. They then make it to the second round of the playoffs, but I believe that is their ceiling.

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Worst Case Scenario

Anyone who knows the names on this roster knows what the biggest concern for their season is: Injury. Derrick Rose has battled injuries for the past four seasons and has yet to come back as a consistent point guard. Joakim Noah suffered a shoulder injury twice last year, missing nine games the first time and the rest of the season the second. If this injury reoccurs, this could be terrible for the Knicks. Worst case scenario, both Rose, and Noah are inconsistent starters, and they have to rely heavily on Brandon Jennings and Guillermo Hernangomez.

Jennings has proven at points in his career that he can be a valuable point guard, but he has been trending downward in the past few years. Hernangomez is a young talent out of Spain who played pretty well in the Olympics, but the NBA is much more competitive so it is yet to be seen if he can keep up. This would virtually leave the Knicks in the same position as last year, except with a slight upgrade to the point guard and shooting guard position.

That being said, regardless of how bad they are, they will not be as bad as last season. Really the worst thing that could happen to this team is to lose starters to injuries, considering their severe lack of depth past Jennings. In this scenario, with injuries and bad chemistry or whatnot, they go 40-42 and finish eleventh in the East, missing the playoffs.

Likely Scenario

I really do believe that this is a comeback season for Derrick Rose. I think he will average close to 20 ppg and 7 apg and stay healthy in the process. I also think that Joakim Noah will be okay health wise and will put up his usual numbers with fewer points because he won’t be the best big man on the team anymore. This being said, I actually think they will not be as good as everyone is making them out to be. The chemistry between Melo and Noah will most likely be a problem, causing the offense to be shaky through the first half of the season. Porzingis will have a breakout year and be a borderline all-star, but will not make the team.

I see a group of older stars (exception of Porzingis) that needs to win now if they are going to at all. Even with that being the case, the East will not be as weak as it has been the past. Teams that I believe will definitely finish above the Knicks are the Celtics, Pacers, and Raptors. The Bucks, Bulls, and Hawks are who I believe will be the Knicks real competition in the East this year. Looking into the future it is hard to depict where each team will land because the talent is very evenly matched. The Knicks could finish anywhere from third to ninth realistically speaking, but I have them slotted at the six seed, going 49-33. They will put up a fight and make the third seed go to game seven, but will lose in the first round.

The Conclusion

It takes a lot of variables to create a championship caliber team, and although the Knicks touch upon quite a few, they lack important aspects of a dominant team. Bench depth is going to plague them this year, along with their team defense and lack of chemistry. Even if by miracle they did win the Eastern Conference Finals, they have to face (most likely) the Warriors with four potential all-stars lining their starting five. The Knicks will have a much more successful season this year and will gain playoff experience, but they will fall short of everyone's expectations.