The New York Knicks have made headlines all season, and for all the wrong reasons; awful basketball, e-mail scandals and an “In Phil We Trust” campaign all resulted in the worst season in Knicks history.
Derek Fisher’s latest comments might take the cake when it comes to the “Did they really just say that?” category.
Per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:
“We are 6-21 in games by six points or less this year. So we lost 21 games on two possessions. So we don’t have to go from 15 to 36 next year. We can go from 15 to 63 if we really want to. But that is up to us.” – Derek Fisher
First of all, assuming that the Knicks can swing those 21 games in their direction might be a little far-fetched. There are an abundance of things they need to do before they even consider themselves a .500 team.
Can the Knicks achieve a 48-game turnaround?
Fisher may have set the bar unexpectedly high for the Knicks with his comments, but the pressure is on for a rebound season. Here’s how it could be possible:
Poised To Win The Offseason
In recent memory, New York teams haven’t necessarily been known for keeping their draft picks, when it comes to their basketball teams anyway, but this season it’s different. Out of all the years the Knicks hold a first round pick, they sure are glad they have this year’s.
Imagine if this pick was in the hands of another team?
They don’t have either of their first round picks next year, with the picks going to Denver and Toronto, putting the pressure on to get things right. Guaranteed a top-four pick, Jahlil Okafor, Karl Towns Jr., Emmanuel Mudiay or D’Angelo Russell will be playing under the bright lights of MSG.
Any of these players will be a major upgrade for the Knicks.
So you got the draft pick, now you have to make a splash in free agency. HoopsHype ranks the free agents and possible free agents for the summer of 2015. With $25 million worth of cap-space, free agency can quickly change their fortunes.
But they don’t need to land an elite player. There’s plenty of value in this free agent class. Although two-stars along with a top-four pick could be deadly, a combination of good players could be a better option.
When you look at the team stats leaders, there aren’t many categories where the Knicks fare well. However, when you take a look at bench production, the New York Knicks are 9th in the NBA in bench scoring with 36.6 points per game. As well as being ranked 7th in bench assists, the bench would naturally be bolstered with the addition of more free agents.
Let’s be real, all of their potential signings would be immediate upgrades.
Obviously the quality of players that (hopefully) sign with New York will determine if there is immediate success, but it’ll be awfully hard to perform poorly in free agency.
Taking Defensive Pressure Off of Carmelo
Whenever anyone goes under surgery, there is a cause for concern. No matter how minor, there is doubt that creeps up in the back of your mind that player might be noticeably affected by the surgery.
Going under major knee surgery on February 19, Anthony started his road to recovery but Knicks fan shouldn’t be concerned, according to Dwyane Wade anyway, who underwent the same surgery in 2007.
Even if Wade’s prediction becomes correct, New York should still proceed with caution. The defensive side of the floor is where money is made, as well as where the most effort is put in, or should be anyway. Defense is the first thing that will be affected once coming off of knee surgery.
Anthony has never been known for being an elite defender. He has a knack to rebound the basketball but his defensive deficiencies are glaring. Ever since his first full season in New York, Anthony’s Defensive Rating has increased every year.
Year Defensive Rating
Bringing in better defensive options would subsequently move Anthony to defend the 3rd or 4th best option, freeing him up on the offensive side of the floor. Any kind of regression on the offense for the Knicks wouldn’t move them down the rankings too far, as they are currently 29th in scoring. The Knicks must keep Anthony rested for offense.
A player of this caliber should be able defend, right? Right. So, if Anthony doesn’t have any lingering issues, he can simply take defensive pressure off of himself by, you know, defending.
It’s Happened Before (Sort of)
When the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan with the first pick in the 1996 Draft, pairing him with current Spurs superstar David Robinson. Expectations skyrocketed and New York would love to see their expectations raised in similar fashion.
The following season, San Antonio won the NBA Finals, and their success has been at the top of the mountain ever since.
Now, there’s no guarantee that New York could replicate San Antonio’s success, or most teams for that matter but the blueprint for success is there. Who else but Gregg Popovich would lay down the blueprint?
It’s not the same scenario by any measure, but the Spurs achieved a 36-game turnaround and they played in a Western Conference that sported three 60-win teams. This year’s Eastern Conference is far from that kind of talent level.
Will It Actually Happen?
The Knicks need a lot of things to go right and there’s always a chance for events to unfold in an unfavorable manner. “In Phil We Trust” could take a disastrous turn if next season doesn’t pan out as planned.
As for the possibility of a 48-game turnaround, it won’t happen. However, the possibility of a turnaround on smaller scale isn’t out the window.
41-41, Knicks fans?