The Playoff Drought Ends: The Knicks Will Make The Playoffs

Mar 24, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) laugh on the court during second half time out against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 106-94. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) laugh on the court during second half time out against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 106-94. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

The drought will finally end in 2016-17. The New York Knicks have what it takes to get back to the NBA Playoffs.

It’s been three years since the New York Knicks last made the playoffs. There has been a lot of change over the course of those three seasons. The front office has seen little change; the coaching staff has seen change; the roster has seen significant change.

The New York Knicks hit rock bottom during the 2014-15 season when the team finished at 17-65, which was the worst record in team history. Also, it was the first time the team lost more than 60 games in a season. The Knicks couldn’t get any worse.

Even though New York went through a historically awful season, the team hit the lottery in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Fortunately for the Knicks, the team selected Kristaps Porzingis after their 17-win season. Many thought Porzingis would struggle as a rookie, but that was not the case.

The soon-to-be sophomore forward had a productive first season in New York and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting.

The Latvia native averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He finished eighth in the league in blocks. It’s now expected that Porzingis’ game will grow under new head coach Jeff Hornacek.

With Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony already on the roster, the Knicks attempted to add depth to the roster during the offseason. New York made some interesting acquisitions during the offseason.

The team signed Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, and Courtney Lee, and added Derrick Rose via trade. The team also added 2015 second-round pick Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas. After three seasons of not making the playoffs, there is a glimpse of hope for next season.

Is it realistic to think that the New York Knicks could make the playoffs next season?

Just like most teams, health is an important factor. One of the main acquisitions the Knicks made during the offseason, Rose, has been dealing with health issues since the 2011-12 season. Over the course of the past three seasons, however, he has seen more game action year-by-year.

Rose went from playing 10 games during the 2013-14 season to playing in 66 games two years later.

There is no way New York can expect Rose to be the same player he was during his MVP season, but he will be a huge upgrade over Jose Calderon. The past couple of seasons, he did start to play more games and started to see his numbers go up.

After shooting poorly during the beginning of last season, Rose finished off the season on a positive note. He shot 47 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep after the All-Star Break.

Not only did the Knicks bolster their backcourt by adding Rose, but the team also added Jennings to be the backup point guard. While Jennings will not be starting,  he is embracing his role and has his mind set on winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

At his introductory media conference, Jennings revealed that Phil Jackson has set that goal for him.

"“(Phil) said he expects me to be sixth man of the year, so I’m definitely gonna embrace that role. I don’t see why I can’t be in that conversation, and I’m fine with it. I’m definitely fine with it.”"

His stats were not stellar last season, but Jennings has a chip on his shoulder. He came back from a gruesome injury last season and wants to prove that he can be close to the same player he previously was.

The 6’1″ guard was a productive player at his peak. In his final season in Milwaukee, he averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assist per game. In the process, Jennings and Monta Ellis led the Bucks to the playoffs.

While some could say Joakim Noah was overpaid based off the previous couple of seasons, he still has the ability to rebound the ball and to be a good big who can pass the ball. Even though he almost averaged five assist per contest (4.7) two seasons ago, Noah is praised more for his work ethic.

Not only are his skills valuable to the team, but Noah’s leadership will be coveted as well.

Every year, the playoffs always shake up. Usually one, two, or possibly three teams suffer a drop-off. There is uncertainty around the Miami Heat. It’s hard to expect how productive Chris Bosh can be after missing 97 games the past two seasons. He finished last season on the injured list due to a blood clot in his leg.

Another team that could fall out of the playoff hunt is the Charlotte Hornets. With two teams possibly falling out of the playoffs, it gives New York an opportunity to take one of those spots.

Recently acquired guard Courtney Lee believes the New York Knicks can make the playoffs and win 50 plus games next season. The goal is to “get the team back to the playoffs and have a 50 plus win season. And then be contenders,” Lee said on 98.7 ESPN New York’s Hahn And Humpty.

Lee knows what the playoffs taste like and is bringing a playoff mentality to this team. The nine-year veteran has been in the playoffs five times in his career and made the NBA Finals as a rookie as part of the Orlando Magic.

Like Rose, Lee will be a significant upgrade. While he won’t be relied upon to be one of the main scorers on the team,  Lee can score buckets if need be. The 6’5″ guard can be a solid shooter from 3-point land.

After getting traded to the Charlotte Hornets, he shot 39 percent from beyond the arc.

On defense, he has the ability to guard both guard positions. The Knicks needed to improve defensively during the offseason and the team did so with the acquisition of Lee.

With the additions the Knicks made during the offseason, there’s no question the team is trying to compete now rather than later. A rebuild would benefit the team in the long-run, but this team is being built to compete now.

This team will bring excitement to Madison Square Garden next season.

With some teams expecting to suffer a decline next season—Miami and Charlotte—the Knicks could potentially make the playoffs as the six or seven seed in the Eastern Conference. On paper, this group has the chance to turnaround the Knicks’ misfortunate.

But the Knicks will need to back up their words once the ball tips off in October.

must read: Possible rotations for the 2016-17 Knicks

The New York Knicks will enter unfamiliar territory once April 2017 rolls around: the NBA Playoffs.