Rounding up to eleven, this would net the Knicks 28 wins this coming season.
If that's the expectation, then New York will surely need to exceed it. If the team was on a natural progression, eleven more wins would be fantastic. But the pressure is on to exceed this noted expectations with flying colors, simply because the Knicks fell well short of the mark of meeting the ones set last season.
Last season was an absolute train-wreck. Of course, the team knew this past summer would provide ample opportunity to make vast improvements. That said, Derek Fisher and Co. were expected to get more out of the likes of J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Samuel Dalembert, etc. Such players struggled mightily as the Knicks aimed to adjust to the triangle offense. If they hadn't, perhaps they'd still have been in town.
After all, Phil Jackson has said previously that continuity is important. Even following a seventeen win season, it was important to bring back some of the Knicks' free agents (see Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson), because such returning players would give the team a chance to develop a bit of rhythm with one another from one season to the next.
If some of the players New York has traded and/or gotten rid of in the last few months had shown more progress, there's little doubt they too would have returned.
Instead, the team will more or less start with a clean slate, following a solid (but not eye-popping) offseason in which Jackson hauled in the likes of Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O'Quinn, Derrick Williams, Sasha Vujacic, and Kevin Seraphin.
Following an injury-plagued year, there's clearly pressure on Carmelo Anthony to step up and be the leader many desire him to be. What's more, Jose Calderon will be expected to prove he's capable of still starting and running an offense. After all, the rebuilding Knicks took a gamble on him and his contract, which spans for two more seasons.
But most of all, the pressure is on Derek Fisher. Rookie coach or not, seventeen wins is not acceptable. In previous seasons, the Knicks have seemingly had worse rosters on paper than the one they started off with last season. But somehow, someway, Fisher's squad only amassed seventeen wins --- a franchise low. Tanking like that wasn't exactly the initial plan, but much more so simply a plan of action after things began to go steadily downhill.
Luckily for him, the Knicks have actually made vast improvements. This is a roster most coaches would be able to keep competitive. Following last season, however, instilling a winning mentality may take a bit of time. How much time Coach Fisher has to do so remains to be seen.
Watching the Knicks play .500 would obviously be ideal, but perhaps looking at the past history of similar teams, not as realistic as one would hope. That said, the Brooklyn Nets secured the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference last season with 38 wins. The Pacers also went 38-44, and the Heat went 37-45.
For the Knicks to prove they're making progress and that Fisher is in fact the man for the job, they should at least be within striking distance of a playoff spot by early to mid February.
Jackson can improve the Knicks' roster all he wants. The fact of the matter is that, if the team struggles yet again, the blame may simply be on Fisher after all. Fighting for the playoffs would suggest New York would need to improve its record from last season by about 20 games.
This would exceed the aforementioned expectation, but it would go a long way towards proving Fisher and Co. are actually headed in the right direction.