At times, giving up can be easy. When the New York Knicks are the first team in the NBA to hit 30 losses, succumb to 10-straight defeats and even possibly lose its only superstar for the rest of the season, it could really be easy to give up watching until the pong balls begin popping in June.
Dec 31, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Travis Wear (6) on the bench in the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Clippers won 99-78. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
However, for the die-hards who stick around until the final buzzer sounds, there is reason to keep your eyes hovering around Knicks broadcasts for the rest of the season. There is reason to believe that it is still okay to watch the Knicks even though the losses continue to pile up and weigh like a cinder block tied to a fish trying to swim to the surface. Here are five reasons to continue doing so:
5. Young Talent Development
Barring a season-ending knee surgery, Carmelo Anthony’s absence can open up a majority of minutes for different players; specifically Cleanthony Early and Tim Hardaway Jr. As two players who are in New York’s future plans, it is crucial that their all-around games develop for next season. In a year where the entire stratosphere around the Knicks is set to change — New York will have over $50 million in cap room and a first-round draft choice — Hardaway and Early will methodically turn into two of the longest-tenured Knickerbockers. Combined, the two will have three years of experience under their belt and could be asked to play much bigger roles next season.
It is worth watching you players develop, just ask Philadelphia 76ers fans. Youth holds hope and promise; something Knicks fans could use a healthy dose of if they choose to sink with the ship this season. Shane Larkin and Iman Shumpert will also be under a microscope for the remainder of the season, as both were rejected discussions of an extension back in September by Phil Jackson, the second-year and fourth-year guard still have plenty of prove to the first-year GM.
Larkin has proved with more minutes, there is more time to improve. Here are Larkin’s stats from his previous 10 games — the first five followed by the second five:
Dec. 14-Dec. 21
Dec. 25- Jan. 02
As Larkin continues to improve his play, he begins to earn more minutes from coach Derek Fisher. Larkin has played 30-plus minutes in four of the last 10 games, that’s double the amount from the previous 25 games. It will be something to watch as Larkin’s play improves and if the Knicks decide to keep him around.
It can also be noted that New York has Travis Wear, a decent summer league find, who can eventually develop into a serviceable player and Thanasis Antentokounmpo, who has become the star of the Westchester Knicks. There is a good pool of young talent in New York City as it stands.
4. How Much Better Will the Triangle Get?
There has been a great deal of talk surrounding the triangle offense this season. Will the Knicks ever master it? Is the offense simply outdated? Dennis Rodman said not too long ago that he learned the triangle in 15 minutes. Do the Knicks have a wholesome low IQ? Or is Derek Fisher still teaching himself en route to teaching his troops? The only way one can get answer to these questions is by simply watching the rest of the way. Though it may be most obvious that New York’s achilles heel this season is defense, as explained by Ian Begley here, the offense still struggles to score and is second-to-last in the NBA in points per game, per NBA.com/Stats. New York lacks a secondary option behind Anthony night in and night out; the triangle was supposed to help that by getting everyone involved. At times, it is also obvious that New York isn’t running the awarded system and strays to isolation and three-point bombing. The hope is by that the end of the season, New York will be a high-performing, polygon machine. The key word is hope.
Phil Jackson’s first season as a head coach came in 1989 with the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan and company were ousted by the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals before winning three straight championships the next three seasons. Was there a struggle there in Phil’s first year a a head coach implementing the triangle?
Chicago finished fifth in the NBA in offensive efficiency and ninth in points per game. As it stands right now, talent wise and record wise, this New York team is a polar opposite. The biggest reason to watch the triangle hopefully grow is for its efficiency, whose offensive rating is the sixth worst in the NBA as of now.
Only time will tell if New York can thrive in the triangle offense or if Derek Fisher decides to change things up. It’s a pretty good reason to continue watching the Knicks.
3. Carmelo Anthony’s Days Could Be Numbered This Season
We aren’t sure if Carmelo Anthony will decide for or against season-ending knee surgery on his left knee this year, which means we aren’t sure how much more Anthony we will see this season. Carmelo Anthony is one of the soul reasons that this Knicks team is still watchable. There isn’t much explaining to do here to why Anthony makes the team watchable; he is a prolific scorer and can literally score in any way possible. If he cuts his season short, this Knicks team is sure to fall off the deep end if they haven’t already.
So enjoy Carmelo Anthony while you can. Superstars can be taken for granted sometimes, and you think the Knicks are bad now, things have room to get much worse if Anthony cuts his losses and gets surgery with an eye on completing at a higher level next year. Don’t take him for granted.
2. Losses Have A Bigger Impact Than Wins At This Point
Every loss marks a higher chance at the number one pick in the 2015 NBA draft, highlighted by Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. If the Knicks can land a top-three position in the NBA draft, they will undoubtedly be drafting the biggest name to its team since Patrick Ewing in 1986. Watching losing basketball may not be fun, but it is reinforced by the notion of a high draft pick, which is one of the few silver linings of this season.
Are Knicks fans rooting for wins or losses at this point? If you are rooting for losses, watching the Knicks on a nightly basis probably isn’t that tough. What is tough is the level New York competes at; especially when some fans believe the Knicks aren’t giving a whole-hearted effort on a game-to-game basis.
As it stands right now on NBADraft.net, New York would presumably land the second-overall pick in this year’s draft. There are plenty of options the Knicks have with that pick. Obviously, they can make their own selection, or they can even trade that pick for some superstar, a la the Cleveland Cavaliers. Highly unlikely, but as time progresses and Phil Jackson’s window to build a contender closes, it isn’t unreasonable. If you are in to seeing where the Knicks will end up on draft day, surely watch the losses pile up this season — it makes losing much easier to handle when you know there is a high form of reciprocation.
1. This Is What Modern-Day Knicks Fans Are Used to
Knicks fans have been pulled through the pits of the basketball pits for last decade and change. It has been going on for so long that most Knicks fans are used to the failure and scrutiny from other fan bases. Some have even embraced the fact that they are fans of the New York Knicks, one of the most turmoiled franchises of the 2000’s with bad contracts, upper-management fiascos, Isaiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady, ball don’t lie, the list goes on and on.
This season just makes for another page in the scrap-book of failure that New York Knicks fas have built over the years. Anyone can tell you that a long-awaited victory is sweet. When the time comes one day, it will be great. To say you sat through potentially the worst season in franchise history and watched almost every game is historical in itself, which is a prime reason to watch. If you want to have a story to tell your children about how you suffered through some of the worst Knicks basketball from 2002-2015, make sure you watch the rest of this season, because it could be one of the last seasons for a while that is filled with turmoil and bad luck.
Believe it or not, Phil Jackson knows what it takes to win despite being a rookie GM with a rookie head coach. Things will turn around and you will want to be able to say, “I remember watching the Knicks when they were horrible” a few years from now. Those are the types of things Knicks fans take pride in coming from a city built on the foundation of strong, resilient residents. New Yorkers always bounce back. The Knicks will, too. This season, too, shall pass. Keep watching and enjoy the bad basketball. It will all be over soon.