At first glance, even the most tenured Knicks faithful will yell “What a disaster!” I mean, they’re not making the playoffs. They lost to the Nets twice in one week. Melo-drama, Phil-drama, Rose-drama. Not to mention the 72 million-dollar man Noah had season ending surgery; and is now suspended for the first 20 games of next season for violating the anti-drug policy. But alas, success lies in the crevices of the season.
How in the world has the season been successful? The Knicks finally have answers! For many seasons (especially since Phil’s arrival) there have been questions surrounding the franchise. How are they going to build a championship team? Can they win a championship with Melo as the number 1 option? Who can they sign as their legit starting point guard?
The Knicks have received the answers to many of the questions that have been lurking for years. Kristaps Porzingis has shown that he has the skill set to be the franchise player. The Knicks seem to understand that the future revolves around him and his development. With each game he plays, he gains valuable experience on how to grow his game. He’s shown this season that he’s not afraid to take big shots, make or miss. The Knicks must continue to allow his character to develop into the leader they need.
Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony cannot co-exist. Back in 2014, there were hopes that their relationship would show flashes of brilliance a la Kobe and Jordan. The idea that Melo could emulate those types of 1-on-1 talents was promising. Though many wanted Phil to step down to the bench, we accepted him at the top. Those optimistic wishes quickly turned to gloom. Phil Jackson has attempted to trade Melo for some proverbial shoe string and a paper clip. Though Melo has expressed his deepest desires to remain a Knick, Phil wanted to see otherwise. One of them has got to go.
72 million dollars have gone down the drain. Although this ties up the Knicks’ funds, they now know Noah is not the answer for the future. In the games he’s played, he’s appeared to be a shell of himself. He’s shown flashes, but can no longer carry a heavy workload. The instincts are there, but the minutes must drastically decrease for him to be effective. He’d be the perfect 15-18 minute plug and play guy for a contender in need of depth.
Derrick Rose has shown flashes of the former MVP this season. As opposed to the past, where he went 100 mph for 48 minutes, he now does it in bursts. We no longer see vicious dunks, but the acrobatic and athletic lay-ups are still evident. It was imperative for him to get this season under his belt, for his mental and physical confidence. This summer is the time for him to re-tool and reassess his situation. As for the Knicks, the ball is in their court. Rose is in a contract year and that old money comes off the books. Do you sign what you’ve seen, or go after another prospect? They seem to know the answer.
Productive but inconsistent play has plagued the team this season. Courtney Lee, Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Kyle O’Quinn all showed brief flashes of high productivity. They’re all decent pieces for a competitive team, but haven’t shown enough domination to solidify themselves as starters. Kuz and Willy can use the rookie year excuse, but Lee and O’Quinn should be more established and developed.
The losing stinks, right? Wrong. Not in this year’s draft at least. With the Knicks lottery bound, the chances on drafting a highly talented guard or wing player look amazing. The Knicks are projected to have a 98% chance of landing a top 10 pick. This is one of the deeper drafts in recent memory and they can sure grab another youth to pair with KP for the long haul.
Phil Jackson has tried to see which players on the roster are “learners” and which ones aren’t. It takes a full season to analyze talent and project potential. The talent we acknowledged on paper in the preseason did not translate to wins. But now we know who stays and who goes, don’t we?