After last making the NBA Playoffs in 2013, the New York Knicks have been in a state of disarray, making tons of head-scratching moves since.
The big picture: After a dismal decade, the New York Knicks are hoping that the arrival of Kevin Durant (and others) can make the franchise great again.
New York state of mind: As it stands, almost all the players on the Knicks are on one-year deals. This puts the Knicks in prime position to land two marquee free agents in the offseason, primarily Durant and Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving.
- Though Irving has lambasted the media for its coverage on his impending free agency decision, that hasn’t quelled the raging media fire.
- Couple that with the fact that current Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. has been actively recruiting Durant and Irving and this is one fire that won’t go out anytime soon.
Apart from players on one-year deals, the Knicks have a plethora of young players that could be difference-makers in the future, such as Kevin Knox, Smith Jr., Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson. That group needs time to develop, however, before they are ready to grab the bright lights of Madison Square Garden as those four have an average age of 21.
KD’s impact: If the Knicks are able to pry Durant away from the Golden State, it will be interesting to see which players New York Knicks president Steve Mills will surround Durant (and potentially, Irving) with. Will he continue developing young players? Or will Mills decide to win-now and sign veterans who have playoff experience?
Regardless of how Mills decides to go about this, the Knicks will be infinitely more talented than previous years just with the arrival of Durant alone.
- Averaged 25.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game with the Golden State Warriors.
- Highly efficient, hitting 52/38.3/88.2 percent from the field, 3-point and free-throw line, respectively.
- A career 38.1 percent 3-point shooter, showing he can hit anywhere.
With Durant’s accuracy from the floor, it’s almost impossible to find a spot that he can’t hit from and with his gravity, that will open up easier opportunities for the other players on the floor.
Climbing Mount Zion to get KD: Currently, the Knicks have a 14 percent chance of grabbing the No. 1 pick and a 51 percent chance of getting a top-four pick overall.
- If the Knicks draft Zion Williamson and are able potentially convince Irving to go to New York as well, that would make the Knicks the most favorable destination for Durant, save for the Warriors.
Envisioning a green monster: If all the pieces fall favorably for the Knicks, they will have, arguably, the most talented starting-five in the Eastern Conference. Here is a projected starting-five for the 2019 New York Knicks:
- Guard: Kyrie Irving
- Guard: Dennis Smith Jr.
- Forward: Kevin Durant
- Forward: Zion Williamson
- Center: Mitchell Robinson
In Irving and Durant, there is ample offense as those two alone can score 45-50 of the teams’ points. Meanwhile, the duo of Smith Jr. and Williamson will improve their defense under defensive-minded head coach David Fizdale. Having Robinson guarding the interior should bolster the Knicks’ defense, should any of the aforementioned players be beaten off the dribble.
The bench should be no slouch either. Many players will be enticed by the idea of playing with three potential All-Stars. With a dearth of talent in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks should be able to compete for home court advantage even with a depleted bench.
If the Knicks fall off Mount Zion: While they are the overwhelming favorite to land Williamson, that is not guaranteed as the bottom-three teams all have a 14 percent chance to get the first pick.
- Should the Knicks miss out on the opportunity to draft Williamson, that would make luring Durant to the Big Apple that much more difficult.
- If Durant doesn’t sign with the Knicks, then that makes signing Irving all the more difficult, since Charles Barkley has already stated the neither Durant nor Irving have the mental fortitude to play in New York.
- Although Ja Morant and RJ Barrett are both highly-touted, neither of them have the same appeal and attraction as Williamson, especially as a building block.
Outlook: In a sense, everything hinges on the Knicks ability to land Williamson. In the event that the basketball gods deny New York the ability to draft Williamson, it will make convincing Durant and/or Irving an almost insurmountable task.
Besides, despite the many millions of dollars that the Knicks have and the appeal of The Garden, who would give up an opportunity to compete for championships in order to go to a currently-rebuilding team and spend their prime years on a middling team? Look no further than Carmelo Anthony and his experience.
The bottom line: If Durant makes the journey and takes a bite out of the Big Apple, expect KD to make the Knicks great again and to be a playoff lock. Considering the aforementioned lack of talent in the Eastern Conference compared to the West, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see the Knicks potentially battling for a top-four seed when it’s all said and done.