The East is getting stronger, and the New York Knicks will have a tougher road than anticipated if they want to make the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
There tends to be a preconceived notion when it comes to sports. People will constantly come up with analysis, ideas and opinions to support their notion, yet sometimes basing things off of the past wont necessarily give an accurate glimpse into the future.
This comes into play when talking about the Eastern Conference, especially when it comes to making the playoffs.
The East has been the punchline of NBA jokes for a while now, and rightfully so, seeing as the conference has been abysmal for so long. Teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are still going to have a rough couple of years (the Nets more than the Sixers).
Yet, so many teams in the conference have improved over the past few years that you can no longer assume that this will be weak competition that the Knicks will be able to dominate with ease.
This past season, the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference was the Detroit Pistons with a record of 44-38. The No. 9 seed was the Chicago Bulls, which were 42-40. Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the No. 6 seed Dallas Mavericks were 42-40 as well.
The Washington Wizards, which were No. 10 in the Eastern Conference, had a record of 41-41 while the Houston Rockets, which were No. 8 in the West, had an identical record.
The competition in the East is only starting to get tougher as young teams that suffered for a good draft pick for so many years are finally starting to show results. A good example would be the Orlando Magic.
The Orlando Magic have been retooling for a couple of years now, with solid young pieces at nearly every position. Having gone under the radar for a few years, they have started to come out of their rebuilding mode.
Orlando made a big trade for Serge Ibaka, which is stating that it believes it has the pieces to win now.
Other teams starting to make some noise are the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams have drafted well over the past few years, filling in glaring holes that needed to be addressed.
Orlando and Milwaukee both have established coaches who know how to get the very best out of their players. Then there are the Indiana Pacer, and the Toronto Raptors, which both have young teams that you have to consider playoff-caliber.
Besides the Raptors, the fellow division rival Boston Celtics signed Al Horford and are rumored to be trying to trade for another superstar with the many assets they have. Of course, there is the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers to deal with, as well.
So simply assuming that the retooled Knicks are going to walk into a high playoff seed is a bit presumptuous.
This isn’t to say they don’t have a shot, because they absolutely do—if they can stay healthy, of course. New York has a deep roster and a superstar in Carmelo Anthony. It also has an up-and-coming star in Kristaps Porzingis.
Other teams will not be down and out for long, though, as their draft picks start to mature and team chemistry starts to grow.
At the end of the day, we all make assumptions when it comes to sports because of past accomplishments. In sports, that is a faulty way of thinking. Sports, in nature, are ever evolving. the torch of good teams constantly getting passed on to teams overtaking them.
Assuming the Knicks will make the playoffs this year isn’t necessarily a faulty hypothesis, yet with the East looking stronger than ever, they must be cautious not to get overconfident.
Regardless of how this plays out, this season is going to be a blast.