The Knicks had a very busy offseason, even though they had no draft picks. They named Jeff Hornacek as their new coach after firing Derrick Fisher midseason last year. The team traded Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant to the Bulls for Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 second round draft pick. They also signed a long list of players to contracts, namely Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings. The team also resigned Sasha Vujacic, Lou Amundson, and Lance Thomas.
This team will have a much-improved roster over last year’s team at every position. The guard play should be much better with Rose, Jennings, and Lee coming in. They are all proven players that have offensive skills that the likes of Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, Langston Galloway, and Arron Afflalo. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to see the Knicks keep Grant and Galloway as they are both young players with a lot of upsides, but the team doesn’t seem to want to develop now and lose more, but rather win now. Jennings and Rose can provide the leadership at point guard to run the offense much more efficiently that last year’s unit could.
The forwards are all almost the same, with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis returning to the starting lineup as well as Lance Thomas on the bench. Cleanthony Early should get minutes in a bench role as well, returning from his long absence from being shot last year. All of these players should improve a lot other than Carmelo, but he loves Porzingis and wants to make sure the “unicorn” flourishes. The new offense might see Melo scoring just as much, but likely will be taking a lot fewer isolation shots, which will be a great thing for the team. The team returns only one center in Kyle O’Quinn and added Joakim Noah, Willy Hernangomez, and Marshall Plumlee.
The last two are rookies fighting for a roster spot, and Plumlee is unlikely to make the team because of his limited offensive skills. Noah will provide a lot of energy on both ends of the floor that is much needed for the team to succeed. Hornacek will likely experiment with playing Porzingis at center as well in small ball lineups. The centers aren’t much of an upgrade over last year, but with O’Quinn continuing to get better, there will be a bit more depth.
Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings both flourish because they are in a contract year, and want more money than less money. They both have a lot of motivation to play well and I believe that they will. The team’s offense will be miles ahead of last year’s squad, because of Coach Hornacek’s love of motion and not isolation (He won 48 games in his first year in Phoenix). Porzingis gets way better and averages close to 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony will both miss between 15 and 25 games each due to injuries (I hope they don’t, but let’s be realistic here). Willy Hernangomez doesn’t play much if at all in the beginning of the year but will get some minutes here and there and make the most of them. From what I saw of him playing for Spain in the Olympics, he looked pretty good and he has a solid upside for being such a young player. The Knicks will win 44 games, and make the playoffs in the 6 or 7 spot.
They could possibly win more games if Melo and Rose stay healthy the whole season, but the likelihood of that is minuscule.