Knicks 2017 Roundtable: Season Wins

The Vegas line is 38.5, if I set it to 40.5, are you going over or under?

Fisher-Cohen: The Knicks registered assists on 62.6% of their preseason field goals and finished preseason with the 5th best offense. Last season, they only assisted on 55.7% of their field goals. Unfortunately, it’s the preseason… The Kings finished with the 6th best offense. It gives me something to hope for this season, but I don’t expect the Knicks to be a great offensive team, and one talented yet injury prone center won’t make up for terrible perimeter defense. We’ve seen that movie before back when it starred Tyson Chandler.

Anyway, my biggest concern with this team is Rose, who barely played this preseason. To me, he’s the new late Knicks era Stoudemire — the same weak defense, the same star power to demand minutes and shots. The main difference is Rose is far less efficient. I expect him to be this team’s albatross. This team has a lot of parallels to the team Jackson inherited in 2014 in terms of contracts, age and current talent, and I expect it to perform similarly. If you told me Rose would go down early or Hornacek would have the balls to bench him and the presence to keep it from becoming a distraction, I would probably take the over, but right now, I have to go under.

Also, as of 10/4, Vegas had the Knicks at 40 wins.

Kurylo: You can look at this team and see lots of things to be optimistic about. Let’s start with the most obvious: Porzingis. He’s almost certain to get better, the only question being how much better. Is he a future All Star? A top 10 player? A generational talent? Only time will tell.

The signing of Hornacek was another plus for the front office. If nothing else, it showed that the team wasn’t afraid to correct their mistake, or at least the mistake of hiring Derek Fisher. “Checkers” wasn’t awesome in Phoenix, but he did well with what he had. Even if he doesn’t turn out to be a success, it will only be a bad move from hindsight. Right now it’s a solid choice.

The next big plus is the addition of Joakim Noah. New York needs a defensive minded center to play alongside Melo, and a healthy Noah gives them exactly that. His energetic play will be a plus for Gardenites, who will likely cheer bigly for their hometown hero.

But I’m not an optimist, and there’s a dark side to this team as well. The PG position is in shambles, and I’m having a hard time wondering if Derrick Rose missing 20 games is going to be a good thing for the team given their lack of depth. The franchise has lacked a good PG since Marbury took his talents to Asia. In the 11 seasons since this blog’s inception, only 6 Knicks have managed 1500+ minutes and 4.5 ast/36, — and the list isn’t exactly a group you’d be proud of. (For fun – try to name the 6 PGs in the comments.)

But PG isn’t the only problem. I talked about ‘Melo yesterday, and how his production is fading. The overall defense is questionable. And if Noah gets hurt for an extended period, this team is going to flail their way to 32 games again.

It’s a transition year, not a year to dream about a deep playoff run. Last year I hit the bullseye with my prediction, and I’d be happy if they won more than the 37 games I foresee. Save yourself the heartache and go with the UNDER.

Plugh: Setting the number at 40.5 instead of 38.5 makes all the difference in the world to me. At 38.5 I would feel comfortable taking the OVER. I’ve been feeling confident about the Knicks being at .500 with a plus or minus of 2 games. Two games under 41 is 39, so cool. OVER. Setting it at 40.5 means I have to hit it right on the money and I’m just not super confident that they’re good enough to hit .500 for sure. The wiggle room was nice on the Vegas line.

I like Max’s comparison of Rose and Stoudemire. It does feel similar, and I hadn’t made that connection. Of course the problem is the star power/minutes formula vs. the defensive liability and usage issues. Health is worrisome. Defense, generally, is worrisome. I could continue to tick off my concerns about the team and arrive at UNDER, but unlike Kurylo, I am an optimist and I think there’s an outside shot the team could be really good. The smart bet is probably that they’re not going to be very good, but I’m going to say OVER because I continue to believe in two important things. 1) Porzingis is going to make a leap this season and semi-take over the identity of the club. It’s still going to be Melo’s team in most ways, but the dirty little secret that will evolve over the next 2-3 seasons is that Porzingis is alpha and omega. 2) Joakim Noah will have a Jason Kidd effect on the ball club. His presence on the court, and ability to share the rock, will impact the team more than his actual production. His defensive spirit will coax the team to be better than miserable, even if he can’t do what he used to, and even though none of his teammates are actually very good at defense. Those predictions, admittedly, aren’t born out by any statistical model, but I think I feel comfortable with them based on stylistic precedent. OVER.

Topaz: Maybe Schrödinger was a Knicks fan. The team may have the widest possible win-loss range this year for any team in the NBA. There’s a universe in which the Knicks win 48-50 games—if Rose is healthy and effective, if Noah stays healthy to anchor a formidable frontcourt defense, if KP makes a big leap. There’s another universe in which they win 30-32 games—if Noah and Rose continue to regress and/or get injured, if Melo takes a step back, etc. Another unpredictable year for an unpredictable franchise.

When in doubt, though, go with what you know. I keep thinking about this Chris Herring tweet from January. We know that the Knicks have failed to address their biggest problem from last year (or the past half decade): point guard defense. We know that Rose has always been a bad shooter and has been an inefficient scorer the past three years when healthy. We know that Noah is 31, an extremely physical player whose body is likely breaking down, and had a 41 TS% (!) in 29 games last year. We know that while the Knicks are deep at the forward position (Hi Lance!) they are awfully thin at point guard and center—where, as it stands, the team has its most injury-prone starters. We know that 21-year-olds sometimes need time to develop before we demand yet another breakout season from them. We know that the offensive spacing will likely get really ugly, really quickly if Melo or KP have to miss extended time.

It could all work out. But it’s likelier that it won’t—there are just too many 50-50 balls that have to go in the Knicks favor. I’ll take the UNDER at 37 wins.

Udwary: As everyone mentioned, this is a really tough team to predict for the season, but I think it’s easy to predict the beginning of the season. We have three new starters who weren’t on the team last year, two of whom missed several preseason games, and a new coach installing a new system. I would expect the team to be a mess early on, but once they start getting used to playing together and in this system they can be a formidable team. How many games will that take? 20? 30? By then I would start to worry about injuries. I think the under would be the safe bet, but the over is not out of the question with a healthy Noah and Melo. My prediction for the season is something like a 12-20 start, but a late push, just missing the 8 spot in the playoffs with a 41-41 finish. OVER! There is no way I would bet real money on that line, though. There are just way too many question marks surrounding this team.

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