Kia Season Preview 2016-17
2016-17 Season Preview: New York Knicks
Hopes for a Manhattan playoff berth last season pretty much dissipated with the midseason dismissal of coach Derek Fisher. But after a 32-50 finish, president Phil Jackson decided this summer to accelerate the rebuilding process. And if this Knicks team stays healthy, a playoff appearance shouldn’t be out of the question.
After a lengthy search, Jackson hired former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek to be the Knicks new coach … The Knicks’ biggest move of the summer was trading Robin Lopez and former first-round pick Jerian Grant to Chicago for a package centered around former Kia MVP Derrick Rose … The Knicks added another former Bull, Joakim Noah, via free agency.
The Knicks will only go as far as Carmelo Anthony takes them. After making what he said was probably his final USA Basketball appearance in Rio this summer, Anthony enters his 14th season in terrific shape. His 21.8 ppg average last season was his lowest since his second NBA campaign.
In Phoenix, Hornacek embraced a multi-guard lineup and pushed the pace. While Jackson has remained steadfast in his organizational belief in the Triangle Offense, Hornacek will have to figure out how to use the triangle’s concepts within the context of whatever offense he wants to run.
While Carmelo is the present, the future for the Knicks is Kristaps Porzingis. The 7-foot-3, 21-year-old Latvian wowed in his rookie season, and says this summer he strengthened his core while improving his ballhandling.
MAN ON THE SPOT
It was only five seasons ago that Rose won the MVP, but it’s been a rocky few seasons since. Rose has been beset by injuries, and last season’s 66 games were the most he’d played in a season since the MVP. Rose says he’s working to remake his game and base it more around strategy and make it less about athleticism and explosiveness. With free agency looming next summer, Rose finds himself needing to prove he’s all the way back.
Derrick Rose | 16.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.7 apg
Has the chance to prove that he’s still among the NBA’s elite.
Courtney Lee | 9.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.7 apg
After bouncing around the last few seasons, Lee has the chance to find a home in Gotham.
Carmelo Anthony | 21.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.2 apg
Anthony is looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
Kristaps Porzingis | 14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
Porzingis will also probably see some time at the center position when the Knicks go small.
Joakim Noah | 4.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.8 apg
Just two years removed from finishing fifth in Kia MVP voting, Noah enters the season looking to get back to form.
Brandon Jennings | 6.9 ppg, 2 rpg, 3.5 apg
Jennings says he lowered his body fat over the offseason and has returned to full health following an Achilles tear in January 2015.
Lance Thomas | 8.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.9 apg
Has quietly developed into a quality reserve for the Knicks the last two seasons.
Kyle O’Quinn | 4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.1 apg
The New York native is expected to provide depth on the interior for the Knicks.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While the rebuilding of the Knicks has proceeded at a stately pace, that speed suddenly seems to have been accelerated. This starting five has plenty to prove individually, but the most important thing they need to show might be showing each other they can stay on the court.
Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.
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