Jake Brown | Twitter |
The drama-filled Knicks offseason is finally over and the actual games that count have arrived. A new era begins Thursday, when the Knicks take on an old friend who was an integral part of which direction the team would head in. Before the Knicks face Carmelo Anthony for the first time since 2010, let's take a look at five bold predictions for the 2017-2018 Knicks season...
1. Kristaps Porzingis will average a double-double
We will see a lot of development from Porzingis this season with Anthony gone. He's the face of the team and now has two seasons under his belt. I expect the 22-year-old to average somewhere around 20 PPG and 10 RPG, which is a couple of points and rebounds better than last season.
The Knicks need him to become a double-double machine and a presence in the paint, and this is the year he should be able to get it done. The concern with Porzingis is how many games he'll be able to play, and t's tough to expect him to play all 82 games with the injury concerns and stamina problems. I see him playing somewhere around 66-70 games, but he'll be an All Star.
2. The Knicks will have the worst defense in the NBA
They gave up 108 PPG last season. They were the worst defense in the NBA in the preseason. It's a small sample size in the preseason, but wait until they play even better teams than the Nets and Wizards. All signs are pointing to this defense being the worst. Simplifying the defense after a rough first season under Jeff Hornacek isn't going to make up for the fact they just don't have good defensive players. There's a good chance they give up around 110 PPG this season.
3. Frank Ntilikina won't play more than 50 games
The 19-year-old point guard has already been hurt most of the preseason, and he didn't play in the Summer League. He has never endured anywhere close to a 82-game season overseas -- playing 60 total games last year and 40 the year prior. Last year was just at 19 MPG as well. Expecting him to be able to stay healthy for weeks where you play four games seems almost impossible right now. It will be an adjustment period for him to get used to the day-to-day grind in the NBA.
4. Courtney Lee will get traded
There's a couple reasons Lee will be traded. The main one is that is looks like Damyean Dotson is the real deal. The Knicks could look like geniuses in the draft for snagging him in the second round. New York has so many guards, though, that he won't get enough time to showcase his talents.
Lee will get traded to a contender that can use a shooter off the bench. With the Knicks heading in a younger direction, it makes sense to deal him. The question will be if a team is willing to take on the two years, $25 million remaining on his contract after this season. Also, Lee has been on seven NBA teams now in nine seasons...he's bound to be traded very soon.
5. The Knicks will be the fifth-worst worst team in NBA
Despite the awful defense, the Knicks will score. They shouldn't be the worst team in the NBA, with some saying that if everything goes right they can win 35 games. They would need everyone healthy all season for that to even be a remote possibility. The teams that will probably be worse than the Knicks will be the Suns, Bulls, Hawks, and Nets, with the Magic as the honorable mention on the list.
You need to be able to play defense to win games in the NBA, and the Knicks don't do enough of it to be a playoff team or close to it. They will be fun to watch at times and are heading in the right direction as a franchise, but look for them to be in the discussion for the top pick in the lottery.