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P&T Round(ball) table: 2018-19 Crystal Ball predictions

The P&T staff answers some burning questions about the upcoming season

21st Biennale of Sydney Media Preview Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

With the season finally here, the Posting and Toasting staff decided to take a look into our mind’s eyes and see if we can predict the future for these strapping young Knicks.

We’ll be answering six burning questions today to ring in the new season. Let’s not dilly-dally and get right to it:

What will the Knicks’ record be this season?

Stingy: 16-82. Gonna be a rugged regular season, but fear not. Sweeping the ’offs.

Ghost: 26-56. We’re going to suck, just not quite as much as some of the smartypants stats projections out there suggest.

Alex: 32-50. The East sucks! Not to say the Knicks are good, per se, but I think they can at least surprise some people and stay afloat until Porzingis comes back, while beating the worst bad teams (Bulls, Nets, Magic, etc.). Once the Unicorn’s back, they rattle off some streak of like eight straight wins to make their record respectable. So sayeth Alextradamus.

Drew: 23–59. I am a man of science and data so I have to go along and endorse my colleagues at FiveThirtyEight. They have never made a wrong prediction ever. This team stinks, but Frank Ntilikina is great.

MMiranda: 25-57. The East is better, the West is best, and the Knicks many moons from either of those qualities. Did you know they’ve never had a 25-win season? Root for history!

Chiniqua: 21-61. Our record will be old enough to drink but not rent a car.

New York Basketball Observer: 21-61. There are so many bad teams in the East, but we are among the worst of them. :(

Who will be the Knicks’ Most Improved Player?

Stingy: Well of course the answer is Ntilikina. Tchoclikina. Frankie Teardrop. The Sinkhole of Steal.

Ghost: Frank Ntilikina. He’s thicker and more intimidating defensively and he’s flashed an improved handle to go along with more willingness to drive. Bake in an outside shooting bump that’s common in young players and second-year Europeans in the NBA and you’ve got yourself a nice step forward for Ntillmatique (s/o allzingers for the 848th nickname better than Frankie Smokes).

Alex: I want to say the French Army Knife but I think everyone’s going to say Frank. He’s the most obvious answer. So I’ll go out of the box and say Damyean Dotson. Hopefully with a real minute load, Dot can start to fulfill some of that potential as a rebounding, 3-and-D wing that we saw in flashes last year.

Drew: I want to say Frank but I think everyone’s going to say Frank. He’s the most obvious answer. So I’ll go within the box and say Frank Ntilikina.

MMiranda: Noah Vonleh. I have no statistical data or narrative to support this claim. Strictly a hunch. By “most improved” I think he grows from “Oh yeah; that dude’s still in the league?” to “That dude’s a viable rotation player.”

Chiniqua: Anyone who doesn’t see Luke Kornet’s potential is sleeping. But seriously — those 3s in preseason — it could happen!

New York Basketball Observer: Hard question to answer because we may not be factoring in rookies? I am going to factor in the rookies and take into account improvement over the course of the season. I think Frank will have a more consistent season than last year, I think Knox struggles but comes on strong in the last 20 games and averages like 16+ in those games, but F*%# THAT, MITCHELL ROBINSON HAS BARELY PLAYED BASKETBALL, I’M GOING WITH HIM.

How many mid-range shots per game?

Stingy: A lot. But they’ll be wise enough to take less than they did with Hornacek at the helm. Optics.

Ghost: 19.5. Fizdale will get these guys driving in and shooting further out more often than last season, but we’ll still pull more than you’d ideally want. Embrace it, for Allonzo Trier isn’t the hero need, but the hero we deserve in this tank-tastic season.

Alex: Probably a bunch. It just seems to be in the DNA of a lot of players on this team. If they can get a large number to go in, cool! If not, I hope that, sooner than later, they figure out that moving back a few steps might be beneficial.

Drew: 18.7 mid-range shots per game. I think Fizdale will help fix the shot profile of this team, but it isn’t going to be a drastic one this season as Trey Burke, Allonzo Trier, and Tim Hardaway Jr. are still going to take mid-range shots. Hopefully, they can actually take smart, in rhythm, mid-range shots and shoot efficiently instead of taking lazy pull ups.

MMiranda: Whatever the highest estimate is, add 5-10. There was much consternation in the P&T Slack about Fizdale saying this:

“I’d like to [shoot more 3s] but right now the way we’re shooting I don’t think that’s a great shot for us,” he said. “Everybody can try to be Golden State but you gotta have the personnel to actually do it and right now I think we gotta get to where we understand our offense and our spacing, understand how to move without the basketball, the execution and timing of our offense, and as we get shots out of that offense and guys start to learn where those shots are coming from, I think those percentages will go up and I think the attempts will go up too. But right now I’m not really concerned that we’re not shooting 30, 40 a game because that’s just not a great shot for us right now to be putting up that many.”

I’m on-board with D-Fiz. Everyone knows Golden State wants to bomb away. You know why they still succeed at it? ’Cuz of all the other stuff they do (defense leading to transition, dribble penetration, ball movement, cutting/screening) that opens up the three-ball. NFL teams that rush a lot tend to have better records (at least they used to). You know why? ’Cuz those teams were winning late in games and so they ran out the clock, which inflated their attempts. Ya can’t just hand the ball off 25 times in a row and kick back thinking you’re good. You can’t just launch threes ’cuz that’s what the good teams do when you don’t do any of the stuff that the good teams do in the build-up. Unless you’re the Nets.

Chiniqua: You know how in baseball the area that an outfielder covers gets worn down and brownish? The mid-range area of the Garden is going to be like that. We’re all going to be pulling our hair out wondering why and the reason will be that a large number of them will go in the basket, which will be even more frustrating because that’s not how we want this team to play, but what if it’s the only way they can score? Except for Luke Kornet and his 3s, of course.

New York Basketball Observer: 2 many.

Who will be the Knicks’ MVP?

Stingy: Damn, Sam. I don’t wanna answer this one. But if I must, it’s my third least favorite Knick, Enes Kanter. He’ll do a phenomenal David Lee impression and people are going to heap unbending praise on him. His game smells like decomposed old lady perfume.

Ghost: Enes Kanter. This is not a good team and if it was there’s very little chance I’d think he was, but without him the Knicks’ offense becomes even more limited with shot creators and efficient inside scoring. For this season Kanter’s efficient scoring, defensive rebounding and contagious energy will help the Knicks through some tough and trying times.

Alex: Hot take: It will be Kristaps Porzingis. Until he gets back, I’m not really sure that the Knicks will be any good. But once he does return, I feel very sure that the Knicks will look like a much better team and give a real preview of what a good Knicks team with Porzingis as the alpha could look like. Even a rusty Porzingis for 20-30 games is probably still one-and-a-half times better than any other player on this team.

Drew: My heart wants to say Frank but my head is telling me Enes Kanter. This Knicks team is already void of talent, but the drop-off between Kanter and Vonleh/Kornet is much larger than Ntilikina and Burke. Kanter is going to put up numbers mainly because there aren’t many other players that can, but he is at least an efficient player around the rim, can rebound, and is always giving you plus-ultra energy. Just look at how bad the preseason games were without Kanter.

MMiranda: Kevin Knox. With Porzingis out more months and Ntilikina a living, breathing Rorschach test of how savvy NYC basketball fans really are, Knox is the most exciting young piece who does things that are easily recognizable as things we like and that matter. I love Frank, but on a cold night in Charlotte in February, him denying guys off-the-ball isn’t gonna scratch me where I itch the way a 22-point, 10-rebound Knox night will.

Chiniqua: Depends if we’re trying to win, doesn’t it? Actually, either way it’ll be Enes.

New York Basketball Observer: Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier. Getting through 82 will be a grind and they will provide some much-needed comic relief. (Over/under on the amount of times Breen references The Wire should have been a prediction.)

Who will get the most starts at point guard?

Stingy: Francesco Ntilikino. The god too skrong.

Ghost: Frank. Not because I think he’s definitely going to thrive in that position or even that Fizdale believes in him to do so completely, but because it behooves the Knicks to give him significant minutes in order to find out. Even if the ultimate reality is it’s not a viable long-term option, it will help aid to speed up his development as a ball handler, which he’ll need regardless of what his long-term role is.

Alex: Frank Ntilikina. As David Fizdale says, “You keep what you kill.” Frank’s going to have a wall of opposing point guard pelts by the end of this season. How much he’ll develop on offense is up for debate, but his defense will give him a high enough ceiling to start him a lot. Plus, Fizdale is apparently using analytics in his decision making process, and analytics are kind of Frank’s jam.

Drew: I am tired of having to follow Shwin because we think too much alike. I’m not even going to disingenuously argue someone else because I already argued for Ntilikina a lot. On the off chance that the Knicks decide to be dumb and not start Frank as lead guard, Burke will be the guy to get the most start totals.

MMiranda: I don’t know. I don’t care. The point guard of the future isn’t here yet. Let whoever you want keep the seat warm this year. This question doesn’t concern me until the summer.

Chiniqua: notFrank.

New York Basketball Observer: Of the 3-4 guys everyone has been discussing, Frank will get the most starts, but not at PG. That will probably be Burke or some shlub they trade for mid-season.

When will Kristaps Porzingis make his return?

Stingy: Preseason 2019. With the cold-as-ice visions of Antonio Mcdyess.

Ghost: February 22, 2019. First game after the All-Star break. Just enough time for him to knock off the rust without potentially derailing the tank too far off course.

Alex: Christmas! The fat man’s gonna drop a healthy knee down the MSG chimney for our boy Kristaps. I don’t know if I believe this fully, or even if it’s the right thing to do, but damn it, I want my Kristmastaps Miracle.

Drew: Again, Ashwin takes my answer. I am just tired of this guy blowing up my spot. Well, I’m just going to pick a different date at random: March 1, 2019. Do the Knicks have a game that date? Couldn’t tell you. But that’s when Porzingis is coming back, because he should get some playing time to show that he can still run and shoot. He’s going to be super rusty, but what can you do, right?

MMiranda: Christmas. Porzingis has his “Lizard” rep to live up to. The NBA would let him bathe in red wine and HGH if it means he’s back in time to bump ratings to the Christmas game. And 12/25 is a day for miracles. I want my KPTV.

Chiniqua: By the time Christmas rolls around and the losses are beginning to pile, there’s going to be some whole thing about “When will KP come back?” because real drama will be in short supply. Fans will be split between those that want KP back as soon as possible so the team can start teaming again, and those that want to keep the tank rolling. Christmas will come and go and KP will not be on the court. New Year’s, no KP.

Finally, in February, as the City is locked in a deep freeze and snow removal scandals surround the Mayor, the Knicks will unveil their Valentine’s Day “Kiss-taps Porzingis” campaign as KP makes a triumphant return to the court, scores 7 points, grabs 7 rebounds, and fouls out. We’ll all remember it as one of the greatest nights of our lives.

New York Basketball Observer: TONIGHT, on some WWE Undertaker shit.