Knicks far from ‘Super Team,’ but should make playoffs if healthy

Take one future Hall of Famer and elite scorer. Mix him with two pieces from Chicago that seem like they’re perpetually battling injuries. Throw in a 21-year-old stud from Latvia and an easy-going coach who wants to pick up the pace. Put them all together under a triangle sauce, and what do you get? Nobody knows.

“It’s kind of the unknown,” Carmelo Anthony said. “As of right now, that’s what gets me excited, gets me going. Not knowing who we are going to be and what we’re going to accomplish but understanding being optimistic about what we can accomplish. I think not knowing what’s going to happen is getting me excited.”

The experiment of the Knicks, if nothing else, will be worth watching for the journey. Anything short of the playoffs will be a huge disappointment. But even beyond that, the season can serve as vindication for Phil Jackson, or further proof he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing as an executive.

Theoretically, the pieces can fit with a penetrating point guard in Derrick Rose and a defensive anchor in Joakim Noah. But Jeff Hornacek has to figure out how to make it come together while placating Jackson’s triangle desires. There’s only one ball, and three players who feel they deserve it in Anthony, Rose and Kristaps Porzingis.

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Jeff Hornacek has to figure out how to make it come together while placating Jackson’s triangle desires.

(Doug Pensinger)

The key is unselfish play and defined roles, although the start figures to be rough with Rose missing preseason because of his civil trial.

“When you have a new group of guys it’s always change. Everything looks good now on paper. But it’s not until we get on the court and start putting things together and seeing who fits with who and how it fits in,” Anthony said. “What are we going to do? What’s our identity going to be as a team? How we want to play on both sides of the court. So that won’t be answered until we get going. The first month of the season we kinda knock some kinks out. But I believe once we get it rolling it’s going to be a good thing to watch.”

Most are predicting the Knicks will fall well short of Rose’s declaration of “Super Team.” Not one GM in NBA.com’s annual survey picked them to finish in the top-4 in the Eastern Conference. One notable pundit high on the Knicks is Garden employee Isiah Thomas, who predicted on NBATV his former team would be a surprise conference finalist. But mostly the Knicks are being plotted as a bubble playoff team.

Carmelo Anthony admitted it's "unknown" what type of team the Knicks are going to be.

Carmelo Anthony admitted it’s “unknown” what type of team the Knicks are going to be.

(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

“The question is going to be health,” TNT analyst and former Knick killer Reggie Miller said. “You are wondering if Noah and Rose can get to the finish line because of the health problems over the last few seasons. Are they better on paper? Absolutely. I just hope they can get to the finish line. If they can stay healthy for 82 games, they have a real shot of making the playoffs in the East.”

An end to the three-year playoff drought accompanied with a first-round elimination isn’t good enough for Anthony. He said as much following last season’s 50-loss disappointment. But in a conference with Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Indiana, the Knicks will have an uphill climb while starting from scratch for a third straight year.

“I think they will make the playoffs,” Former coach and TNT analyst Kevin McHale said. “They have to get 10-11 (more) wins out of that 32-win team from last year. I think it is there for them. Does that make them a force in the East? I don’t know but you have to start somewhere. You have to get the young kids playoff experience. I know playoff experience doesn’t mean much to Carmelo. At his stage he wants to make a run in the playoffs and compete for a championship but I don’t think they are at that level.”

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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