With the NBA season merely just days away Knicks fan have plently to look forward too. This upcoming season will define the Phil Jackson Era, if the Knicks compete he will be viewed as the savior. If the Knicks fall flat on their faces then Jackson just might be out the MSG door and on his way to L.A. In order to properly gauge the Knicks, there are a few important things most fans will look forward too, starting with:
1. Derrick Rose’s first dunk – Look up any of Derrick Rose highlights and their will be plenty of high flying dunks. The most famous is his monstrous jam on Goran Dragic, where Rose cocks back and delivers one of the most beautiful two handed jams any guard has ever performed. These days Rose is more known for his acrobatic lay-ups. According to Basketball-reference, Rose only threw down 1, yes 1 dunk last year, and only shot 51% on field goal’s 0-2 feet from the rim. Those numbers are down from his MVP performance in which he had 32 dunks and shot 61% on field goal’s 0-2 feet from the rim. If Rose can get those numbers closer to his MVP days then Knicks fans will be in for a treat. Plus we all want to see Rose throw down a few more jams.
2. Will KP hit the sophomore wall as ESPN is predicting? – According to ESPN, KP is projected to average 12.8PPG, 3.6RPG and 1.1 BLKs, those numbers are all down from his rookie year. While the Knicks have added plenty of fire power in Rose and Jennings, Porzingod will need to put up better numbers than this in order for the Knicks to compete. Porzingis is a rare breed and his numbers should implicate that. Not many players 7 feet or taller can score from any where on the court. I expect to see him closer to 16PPG, 7RPG and 1.9BLKs. Having two point guards who can penetrate into the teeth (Rose, Jennings) of the defense should greatly benefit KP. He should see simple put-backs, dumb-offs and other easy garbage points, as well as expanding on his already versatile offensive game.
3. How will the Knicks defend? – We all know what Noah brings to the table when healthy, but how will the Knicks defend as a whole. The media may have hampered on the Knicks offense (Triangle) but lets be frank, the Knicks haven’t defended since Phil took over. Jeff Hornacek was once a hard nosed guard but his coaching has been mostly about offense. Yes the Suns defended but they were never looked at as a defensive team. The Knicks will need to defend if they want to win the division, let alone make it to the conference finals (as Steven A. Smith has predicted).
4. Can Brandon Jennings anchor the offensive load for the bench? – The Knicks bench is filled with very little recognizable names. Players like Guillermo Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Marshall Plumlee and Justin Holiday have much to prove. However if Jennings can return to form the bench should function just fine. Brandon once averaged 19 PPG for the Bucks on 41% shooting. The talent has always been there, and the Knicks will need to see that talent if their bench is to play an important role.
5. Will Lance Thomas continue to improve? – Last season Thomas shot 40% from 3, and was constantly defending the opposing teams best player. If Thomas can improve his play-making skills and get to the line more he would vastly improve the Knicks chances of competing. Lance Thomas has attempted 1.5 free throws per game and averaged 0.7 assist for his career. 3-D players are sought after by all teams and most of them are just that, 3-D players. They have no other skills, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Lance is your typical 3-D player but a few improvements on his game would turn him into a much more rounded player.