With the NBA offseason activity beginning to wane heavily this week, albeit for a few signings still up in the air- Brandon Jennings/Nikola Pekovic notably. And on the eve of the NFL and college football's annual takeover of all things media, I think it's finally time to make some predictions for the upcoming NBA season given that the majority of rosters are somewhere between working rough draft and fixed. Now before reading this column, I need you guys to realize a few things: 1) I'm making NBA predictions in JULY and literally ANYTHING can happen before the season to derail these predictions. 2) These are 100% serious. I am not here to troll or make fun of anybody. That would be churlish and a waste of time. 3) I encourage you to respond with how you feel about my predictions. So without further ado, I present to you a running column that will include a Fanpost for each and every NBA team, "The Flagrantly Early, Incredibly Half-Baked NBA Predictions Series."
NEW YORK KNICKS
No. 1: The Knicks will tread water
Let me start this off by saying this is not an insult. They lost zero pieces they really wanted back. You can argue Copeland, Novak, etc. all day but those guys were for the most part expendable. Felton-Smith-Melo-Stoudemire-Chandler-Shumpert are all back and that was the core 6 pretty much last year. Knicks kept Prigioni, added Bargnani, Metta World Peace, and Little Tim Hardaway to complete a lineup that I really like and that you really can't knock. They will add another big in the next month, I'm not worried about back up center.
But the question remains, where can the Knicks realistically go from here? They just polished off an incredible season. The Knicks were an offensive juggernaut with Melo playing out of his mind. They totally overachieved until the offense melted down in the playoffs. Knicks had a .660 win percentage, a wonderful 13-game win streak and finished 2nd in the East behind the Heat. There's just not much room to go up. Then when you look at Brooklyn getting better, Chicago getting better by default with Rose's return, the Pacers get better ideally with Granger's return and that's the team that knocked them out of the playoffs. And even though the Knicks in some ways did get better, I don't know if they really set themselves apart this offseason because they were already knocking heads on the ceiling. So, I believe they will continue to play really well, but tread water since there's no room above.
No. 2: Metta World Peace will add the right amount of crazy to the Knicks
I'm not saying the Knicks were weak or they weren't tough. Tyson Chandler is a tough dude; this team had a lot of grit to them, but the one thing that really stuck out to me watching the Knicks last season is that there was no real wild cards outside of J.R. Smith who became less of one when his role increased. And when you're hitting game winning shots on a regular basis like J.R. did, it's hard to say he's a wild card because he was consistently the player I wanted to have the ball in the waning seconds of a one possession game. I just think MWP is going to add some serious "crazy" to this team. The dude will inevitably play PF minutes when Bargnani and Stoudemire's knees go on walk-about. He's just the ultimate character who you don't know what you're going to get from MWP on any given night. Plus he's an excellent teammate who is sure to get in somebody's face this season when guys are bumping on Melo. He will go to war for you. MWP brings so much toughness and unpredictability to New York you really can't help but be excited.
No. 3: Andrea Bargnani + A'mare Stoudemire =/= 82 games.
These dudes played 64 games COMBINED last season. That's not even a whole lockout season! That's outrageous! And these two are making 33 million next season combined. The knees just aren't gonna hold up. But I think if Mike Woodson gets a tight minutes restriction on the two of them, they might be able to eke out some quality minutes come Playoff time. It's just absolutely inconceivable that either of these men could play a whole season given the totally instability of their lower extremities. A'mare off the bench can be scary good because nobody's 2nd unit has anybody who can defend such an elite scorer, so I like him in that 20ish mins a night role. Bargnani gets bullied so easily down low and he reverts to Euro-ball, so he has to stretch out to the perimeter a lot of the time. And I think that's totally possible with Chandler down low who is just an ultimate rebounder. It could work; we will see. But the Knicks will be hard-pressed to get a full season out of either of these guys. Let's hope they do.