The Knicks haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013 and this year isn’t breaking that streak obviously. To be honest, that drought of 6 seasons feels more like 20 years with the struggle the team and fans have endured over that time.
So what now?
The playoffs are right around the corner and are the only thing that stands in between now and the summer of hope for Knick fans. With the Knicks sitting at 14-61 and the team going nowhere fast, it’s time to think about who to root for come playoffs.
In addition to the NBA playoffs, we have March Madness currently going on with this weekend marking the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds. Below I’ll list some prospects that Knicks fans should keep their eyes on, as they could be on the roster next training camp.
First, let’s break down the NBA Eastern Conference postseason and who it’s reasonable to root for and who to not root for (Boston).
Teams To Root For
Technically, the NBA has divisions but nobody really cares about that. Rivals are decided based on what happens on the floor, not by divisional divide. The Toronto Raptors are an easy team to root for in the playoffs despite smashing the Knicks every opportunity this season. With the quietest superstar in the league at the helm, they are well balanced and certainly one of the favorites to come out of the east.
The Bucks are another team that wouldn’t be so bad to see win. Giannis has had an MVP caliber year and Milwaukee currently boasts the best record in the league. Along with Toronto, the Bucks are one of the very few teams that could have a reasonable chance to take down the Warriors in a potential finals battle. Plus, if either of those teams ended up winning, it wouldn’t be too bad to stomach for Knicks fans.
Never Ever Root For
Boston. Rooting against the Celtics is standard practice for NY fans, but this postseason an early exit can do double the damage (and double the joy). Everyone is aware of the Knicks interest in Kyrie Irving and his likely interest in coming to NY. He has a player option for this summer that he will decline, becoming a free agent. An early exit in the postseason for Boston could see Irving bolt. Remember, that team got to the eastern conference semis last season without Kyrie, or Gordon Hayward for that matter. Imagine them losing earlier this season with those two guys back in the fold. It would be incredible to see and with the top of the east much improved this season, it’s more likely than not that Boston won’t reach the conference finals. With the way Boston has looked of late, even their likely first round matchup with Indiana will be no cakewalk. If they do survive that, they take on the NBA best Bucks in the next round. Their postseason will be an interesting one to follow, one that NY fans will take great stock in.
Shouldn’t Root For And They’ll Be Home Quick Anyways
The Nets and the Heat. This is assuming that those teams get in, as the race for the 7th and 8th seed in the east is certainly going to come down to the last week of the season. As things currently stand, the Nets are in 7th and the Heat are 8th, which means they’d face the Raptors and Bucks respectively. In other words, they’d both be back home pretty quickly.
Some may root for Brooklyn simply because they are New York based but most Knicks fans aren’t going to root for the ‘other’ team in NY. NYC will always be a Knicks town, period.
With all the battles the Knicks and Heat have had over the years, especially back in the 90s, it’s hard to root for Miami. Dwayne Wade deserves to be in the playoffs as his final sendoff but other than that, Miami isn’t going to get a lot of love from NY.
NCAA Player Prospects
If you find yourself unable to root for any other NBA teams, you’re in luck! There are some players to watch for in the NCAA tournament that could be wearing a Knicks uniform next season.
Half of the Sweet 16 games have been played already, with the other half set to tip off tonight. Knicks fans dream of landing Zion but there are other players that the franchise may end up with instead.
Ja Morant is likely to be the 2nd or 3rd pick in this draft and unfortunately for him, his Murray St team lost in the round of 32. He was electric in the 2 games that he did play however, posting a triple double in the first round win against Marquette.
Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech is expected to be a potential top 5 pick and he played last night in their win over Michigan. The shooting guard put up 22 points and 4 boards and has seen his draft stock rise over the last month or so. On Saturday, his Red Raiders take on Gonzaga, the number 1 seed in that region. That’ll be a fun game to tune into.
Lastly, tonight we get to see both Zion and RJ Barrett. With Zion the top pick and RJ Barrett top 3 at the worst, the Knicks odds of getting 1 of these 2 players is pretty high. They take on a fellow ACC foe in Virginia Tech tonight, so two teams that are very familiar with one another.
Hopefully this provided a decent list of other basketball storylines and games for Knicks fans to watch and follow over the next month or so.
As was mentioned last week, Frank Ntilikina’s place on this roster is in serious doubt heading into next year. Today’s announcement that he will be shut down for the rest of the season after re-aggravating his groin injury does him no favors. Knicks fans didn’t get to see what he looked like while sharing the court with Dennis Smith Jr and potentially never will.