That’s all folks! The Knicks end the year as the worst team in basketball at 17-65 and have clinched the best lottery odds possible in the new system (14%) with hopes of drafting Zion Williamson.
With the season done for a couple days now and playoffs beginning tomorrow, it’s a good time to review the Knicks season and lay the groundwork for what is being labeled as the biggest summer in franchise history. With a little luck, the franchise can return to the days of glory.
17-65 is bad, no matter how you say it or include it in a sentence. However, that doesn’t mean good things didn’t happen during the season or that there is no reason to be excited about moving forward. In a season full of losing, there sure is a lot of hope emanating from Knicks Nation and it starts with the young guys; Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, and Kevin Knox.
Mitchell Robinson started off the season as someone that nobody knew who he was, just that he was second round ‘project’ that hadn’t played organized basketball in a year. Most thought he would spend the majority of the season getting minutes in the G league. Not only did he spend exactly ZERO minutes in the G league, but he also became one of the best shot blockers in the NBA while averaging roughly 20 minutes per game.
To say his growth has been impressive would be an understatement. He’s shown enough that it’s fair to say he’s a future defensive player of the year type of talent and someone that can anchor the middle of the Knicks defense for years to come.
Iso-Zo had one of, if not the best-undrafted rookie season that we’ve ever seen. He hit the ground running with the Knicks and never looked back. Kudos to him for not letting being undrafted hinder his craft and for him coming back and earning an NBA roster spot with an upgraded contract. The Knicks hold his option for next season, although there have been no indications that it won’t be picked up.
This summer will tell us a little more about how the roster will be constructed, but Trier should be back when this team starts up in training camp. He provides tremendous value as a bench scorer and certainly was one of the bright spots of this season.
Knox had an up and down season, to say the least. While he was largely inefficient from the floor, he has a great stretch to end the season and also won Rookie of the Month once this year. Not bad, considering Trae Young also plays in the east and had a fantastic rookie campaign. Knox has shown the ability to be a good wing scorer and will dramatically improve once he knows when and where to get his shots. A lot of his inefficiency comes from his shot selection which has to improve. The area that Knox absolutely needs to make strides in is on defense. Far too many times he was overmatched this season. Normal for a rookie, but that certainly an area that fans will be eager to see him improve on.
By all accounts, Knox is a hard worker and after a full summer of workouts, he should be much improved by the fall.
Who Else Will Be Back
With the young players serving as the focal point of this team moving into the summer, there are a couple of other players we should anticipate on the roster next season, barring any trades.
Damyean Dotson had a pretty strong campaign and became one of the best shooters the Knicks had. He was a fantastic post-all-star break and there’s no reason to believe Whole Team Dot won’t be around next season.
Dennis Smith Jr didn’t get to spend all season in a Knicks uniform but did pretty well before suffering his back injury. This summer is important for him to get healthy and then refine his game to become a more efficient point guard. He has all the talent in the world so he’s an intriguing piece.
Luke Kornet also enjoyed a strong finish to the season but it remains to be seen whether the Knicks have him on the roster to start next season.
Mario Hezonja was great down the stretch when he started to play point guard and made a case to be brought back to the Knicks on a deal next season. The talent has always been there, it’s just a matter of him learning to play within limits. Could be an intriguing bench guy next year.
Frank Ntilikina. He’s likely been written about more than any other player besides Robinson this season. Nobody really knows what to expect moving forward. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him moved for a pick or be on the roster next season. The mystery continues.
Noah Vonleh experienced a resurgent year in New York but missed lots of time injured down the stretch. He played well enough to earn himself a larger deal this summer and there’s a chance with the free agents the Knicks are chasing, that he may not fit into the plans of the franchise.
DeAndre Jordan came to New York along with DSJ in the trade and meshed with his teammates really well. He seems to have enjoyed his time in New York and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back next season on a veteran deal, especially if Durant is donning the Knicks colors.
Now while those are the main players, there are others that deserve mention. Someone like Mudiay who played better this season than he has in his entire career to this point likely won’t be back in a Knicks uniform.
G-leaguers like Kadeem Allen and John Jenkins could find themselves battling for end of the roster spots or could be back in the G league to begin next season.
The one person who does deserve a special shoutout as this was likely his last go-around in a Knicks uniform is Lance Thomas. He’s been here longer than anyone on the roster and with his one-year unguaranteed deal likely to be waived by the Knicks, he has finished his career in a Knicks uniform. He was always professional and never let the team lose its spirit in a season where a whole lot of losing happened. Thank you, Lance.
His inaugural year as Knicks coach was filled with losing but Fiz never let the losing affect his team and was great about deflecting the media buildup of all the losses. Many believe brighter days are ahead for the coach and franchise and he has shown a great ability to connect with his players and is highly regarded by players and other coaches around the league. The Knicks fan base should be excited that he’s going to be the one to steer this ship to a better place moving forward.
Most Important Summer EVER and Why
It’s not hyperbole to claim that this summer is the most important in franchise history. After a midseason trade that earned the Knicks additional draft picks and room for 2 max salary players, it’s time to cash in. Too many times the Knicks have desired star players but never really had a concrete plan on how to construct a team around them. That’s why the history shows that the Knicks aren’t successful recruiting stars to come here, they had nothing outside of a contract to offer. Well, that has all changed now under the guidance of Scott Perry. The Knicks have an exciting young core, a plethora of picks to trade for any assets necessary, and enough cap space to walk into next season with a whole new roster.
It’s no secret at this point that the Knicks desire Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. And according to a recent poll in which current NBA players voted, Durant is expected to come to New York over the summer. Now a lot can happen between now and then but the Knicks have put themselves in a position that we have literally never been in.
While some have dismissed New York’s desires simply as ‘dreams’ that’s not the case anymore. The Knicks have turned into a desirable destination once again.
The last game of the season versus Detroit was the last irrelevant game the Knicks will play for a while, take it to the bank. Now onto summer where we watch the Knicks future unfold.