Before every season, every SB Nation NBA team blog previews their team. It's our turn to do the Knicks, and we got the whole staff to contribute this time.
Team Name: New York Knicks
Last Year's Record: I dunno, probably really good I bet.
Key Losses: Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Jeremy Tyler, Toure' Murry
Key Additions: Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Smith, Quincy Acy, Shane Larkin
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
The Knicks traded 40% of their starting lineup-- Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler-- to Dallas for a new point guard in Jose Calderon, a new center in Samuel Dalembert, plus Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and the second-rounders that became Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. The Knicks used their exception money to sign Jason Smith, then traded Jeremy Tyler and Ellington to Sacramento for Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Joe Flynn: This team has the talent to be a top-five offensive unit, though it wouldn't surprise me if they struggle in adapting to the Triangle early in the season. They have Melo...a scorer of some repute. They also have an elite collection of shooters surrounding him -- players who, for the most part, understand and accept their role in the offense.
MMiranda: Geography. The Knicks play in the East. That's why Knick fans have hope this year and Sacramento fans don't. In addition, the upgrades at center and point guard can't be understated. The combined efforts of Tyson Chandler's year-long thousand-yard stare plus Raymond Felton's degradation were as much to blame for the drop from 54 wins to 37 as anything.
WScottD: Weirdly, I think depth is a strength on this Knicks team. Not to say they're stacked with talented players, but they have so many players with just a couple of skills, that it sort of negates any redundancy.
MattRW: Guard depth is a strength that may be overlooked by the masses. Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, Shane Larkin, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. should provide a lot of good minutes this season.
ChristianBaber: Perimeter shooting continues to be a big strength for the Knicks. Between Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, JR Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr, Cleanthony Early, and Carmelo Anthony, the team has the personnel to constantly apply pressure from the outside.
Jonathan Schulman: Carmelo Anthony getting the ball in the post off of action with loads of weak side movement and cutters orbiting his intense gravitational pull.
Seth Rosenthal: Shooting. If the Triangle can generate the looks, the Knicks have several supreme catch-and-shooters and Melo's presence to give them space. And Melo's pretty good at hitting shots himself.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Joe Flynn: I will go with free-throw discrepancy. The Knicks' one glaring weakness on offense is their inability to get to the line (26th in the league in free throws per field goal attempt. On defense, a team-wide sense of laziness and lack of discipline had them hacking and whacking all the way to a 29th ranking in opponent free throws allowed per field goal attempt.
MMiranda: Shooting guard. Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., and JR Smith have all the skills you could ask for when viewed as a trio. The problem for the Knicks is all James Dolan's billions can't buy him a Dr. Frankenstein to sew the three together into one superstar.
WScottD: I think rebounding might be the biggest issue. Who is the Knicks' best rebounder? Can Dalembert or Aldrich handle enough minutes to grab double-digit boards? Can Jason Smith? It's not going to be Stoudemire or Bargnani. Melo shouldn't have to lead the team in rebounding.
MattRW: I'm sure most everyone else gave the same answer as me: defense. Depth at the 4/5 could be a problem as well, but defense will be an issue up and down the Knicks roster this season.
ChristianBaber: Pick-and-roll defense confounded last year's Knicks. Former head coach Woodson's emphasis on switching led to open corner threes and lay ups for opponents. Coach Fisher's schemes should help stymie opponents looking to create shots off of screens.
Jonathan Schulman: The uncanny ability to double a high screen and roll 30 feet from the hoop, not contain the ball handler, and disregard the roll man.
Seth Rosenthal: Yeah, I think they're still gonna be FARTDOGing a couple times a week.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Joe Flynn: Competence. They need to become a functional, working franchise again. They need to develop the players who will contribute beyond 2014, and have the balls to bench the many high-priced vets who won't be in New York next season. If that results in a playoff berth, then all the better!
MMiranda: Installing the Triangle offense and whatever Unnamed Shape Defense Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have in mind means this year can be used to identify which players are viable long-term and what types of players are needed going forward. This task takes on greater immediacy, given that the team is built around a thirtysomething Carmelo Anthony.
WScottD: Making the playoffs, certainly, but I also think they should establish the direction of the team heading into some rebuilding years. Not systematically, but the construction of the roster.
MattRW: I would say the main goal for the team this year is learning to be a cohesive unit. The fact that such a big change in system has been made makes it clear that there will be an adjustment period, and getting the kinks out before 2015-16 is important.
ChristianBaber: Player development should be a central goal this season. There is young talent on this roster, and low expectations this season offers prime opportunity to let the prospects showcase their talent.
Jonathan Schulman: Learn the Triangle. Be cohesive, if not effective, on defense.
Seth Rosenthal: Run the Triangle through the roster like a comb, see who catches, bring them back and trim the rest, hopefully win some games in the process.
5. Would you rather the Knicks finish the season with the 8th pick or the 8th seed?
Joe Flynn: To me, this questions depends completely on the mood of Marc Gasol. He is the guy New York needs to chase in the offseason. If he's really serious about leaving Memphis, then he'd probably be more attracted to a team that at least made the playoffs. If he's staying put, then the club would be better served getting the higher pick and keeping cap space for 2016.
MMiranda: 8th pick. What, I wanna see LeBron stomp the Knicks in April? Been there. Done that. The eighth pick gives them a shot at an immediate impact player; as the cap rises, a low-cost young talent under contract for 4-5 years is an ever-appealing commodity. It'd also be another asset when they look to make trades next summer.
WScottD: 8th seed. Missing the playoffs would be wasting another year of prime Melo, and it doesn't exactly help establish a culture for attracting big-name free agents to try and compete for a championship in the near future. Who knows if the Knicks will ever get there, but with five years of max-Melo, they aren't really constructed well to rebuild through the draft by losing games. I also just want playoff basketball back.
MattRW: Probably the 8th pick, as the 8th seed likely implies a first round matchup with the Cavaliers, and that won't be much of a contest. A top ten pick that will pay dividends in the future should be more important to the Knicks than whatever small amount of pride comes with barely making the playoffs.
ChristianBaber: I'd rather the Knicks sneak into the playoffs. The '15 offseason may provide a chance to secure a skilled star center like Marc Gasol or Greg Monroe. The pick is enticing, but I'd rather work to add proven veteran talent likely to contribute at a high level immediately.
Jonathan Schulman: 8th pick. We need talent at every spot, and on both sides of the ball, that can complement Carmelo and Calderon. Adding that on such a reasonable contract is paramount to getting the 8th seed next year.
Seth Rosenthal: Catch me on a different day and I'd say 8th pick, but I want the Knicks back in the playoffs. I already miss the postseason after a year off. It's a heartening, emulsifying experience, it tells free agents the Knicks are near-ready, and they'd get a decent pick (their own!) anyway. Like, right now I'd rather have the 16th pick and a feeling of accomplishment than just the 8th pick.