How bright is the New York Knicks’ future?
As Jose Calderon‘s last second shot rattled out, Knicks fans around the country cringed. Down 12 with under 5:30 to play in the fourth quarter, the Knicks fought back and had a chance to win the game. Carmelo Anthony drove and was doubled, and he kicked it to an open Jose Calderon in the corner. Calderon’s shot appeared good but bounced off the back iron to award the Spurs with the 100-99 victory. But Knicks fans should be excited about this loss, as there is a lot to take away from this season’s New York Knicks.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dvJ1Qp_eRE
The San Antonio Spurs improved to 22-0 at home this year and have been completely obliterating opponents in their gym. The fact that the Knicks were able to hang tough despite a poor 5-15 shooting performance from Anthony demonstrates both the depth and promise of this team that has been questioned throughout the last couple of years.
Kristaps Porzingis, who has been arguably the most surprising story of the NBA season this year, finished the game with 28 points and 11 rebounds, dominating the Spurs bigs both inside and out. While Knicks fans are extremely excited about the emergence of the 7‘3 Latvian star, they will once again be disappointed come April if they don’t see their team in the playoff mix.
The storied franchise has struggled in the past decade. Sure, there have been flashes of hope. Moments of promise. But when you’re the second most valuable franchise in the NBA at $2.5 billion, right behind the Los Angeles Lakers, playing in arguably the country’s most famous arena, you are expected to win.
Since 2000, the Knicks have only made the playoffs five times. They only made it out of the first round once, when they defeated the Celtics 4-2 in the 2013 Playoffs before losing to the Indiana Pacers in the next round. Here’s how they compare to other New York teams since the millennium turned.
New York Teams Since 2000
The Knicks and Rangers are the only teams without titles since the turn of the century. But the Rangers have been in the playoffs nine out of the last 10 years and have been in contention for the last few years. You’d have to go back to the 1993-1994 season to find the last time they won the Stanley Cup.
While the Knicks did not win a championship during the Patrick Ewing era, at least they were in contention each and every year. They made the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons, all led by Ewing. It was exciting basketball to watch, as it gave New York fans something to cheer for late in the season.
Even after Friday’s disappointing loss against the Spurs, the Knicks sit just 2.5 games behind the eighth place Magic for the final Eastern Conference spot.
What’s even more promising is the transition into a more “team”-oriented offense, with superstar Anthony leading the way. Anthony is averaging just shy of five assists per game over the last seven, and it has allowed different members of the Knicks to step up. Aaron Afflalo is averaging 19.5 points per game over the last seven, up from his season average of 13.6 per game. Even Robin Lopez is getting into the mix, scoring a season-high 19 points in Wednesday’s impressive win over the third-place Miami Heat.
The Knicks have not won a title since Phil Jackson played power forward in the 1972-1973 season, and if anybody is going to turn around this struggling franchise, who better than the famous Phil Jackson. Although he has won 11 rings, six were with the best basketball player to ever step foot on a basketball court in Michael Jordan, and the other five were with Kobe, a guy who has made a career out of emulating Jordan. Jackson could cement himself as the greatest basketball coach/executive of all time if he could elevate the Knicks to their first ring in over 40 years.
Porzingis was the highest pick the Knicks selected in the draft since taking Ewing at number one in the 1985 draft. Although Jackson was initially heavily criticized, especially by Mr. Stephen A. Smith, he has proven himself as a budding star over the course of the season and has Knicks fans extremely optimistic about the future.
So Knicks fans should not be hanging their heads after Friday’s tough loss against one of the premier contenders this season in the San Antonio Spurs. Instead, they should excited that they were able to hang tough in San Antonio. They should admire the fight the team showed in clawing back late in the fourth quarter and restore their faith in the team, as the future looks very bright for Knicks fans.
*All statistics courtesy of NBA.com/stats and Basketball-reference.com
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