New York Knicks: 5 bold, sizzling hot takes for 2017-18

GREENBURG, NY - JULY 17: New York Knicks team President, Steve Mills and Jeff Hornacek of the New York Knicks introduce General Manager Scott Perry at a pess conference at the at Knicks Practice Center July 17, 2017 in Greenburg, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
GREENBURG, NY - JULY 17: New York Knicks team President, Steve Mills and Jeff Hornacek of the New York Knicks introduce General Manager Scott Perry at a pess conference at the at Knicks Practice Center July 17, 2017 in Greenburg, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
6 of 6
Next
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images /

The Knicks make the Eastern Conference Finals

If you’re still reading this and don’t think I have absolutely lost my mind, allow me to pontificate again. The Eastern Conference has been dominated by the Cavaliers for the past few years on the backs of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

With Irving dominating the offseason with his trade requests, the juggernauts of the East are at risk of taking a fall. A wide open Eastern Conference leaves openings to make the Eastern Conference Finals.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the East, based on the projections from ESPN:

15. Atlanta Hawks – With the departures of Paul Millsap, and Dwight Howard, it’s Dennis Schroder and the bunch in Atlanta—and it’s not a good bunch.

14. Chicago Bulls – Full rebuild for the Bulls after shipping away Jimmy Butler. No chance this year.

13. Brooklyn Nets – Acquiring D’Angelo Russell and a first-round pick from the Raptors were good moves, but not enough to sniff the playoffs this year.

12. New York Knicks

11. Indiana Pacers – The Pacers, like the Bulls, shipped their superstar out West for pennies on the dollar, leaving them with no identity. Indiana will likely struggle to score.

10. Orlando Magic – I’m surprised the Magic weren’t ranked lower, to be honest, as they have a bunch of pieces and no clear game-plan.

9. Philadelphia 76ers – Trust the process indeed. This team will be much better with the additions of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, and J.J. Redick. It remains to be seen how well they will do considering how little time they’ve spent on the floor with one another.

8. Detroit Pistons – The Pistons figure to be in position for a rebuild soon if they can’t put enough pieces around Andre Drummond. The offseason was not an indication that they will do that, flipping Marcus Morris for Avery Bradley and losing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. I would be surprised if they made the playoffs.

7. Miami Heat – The Heat had a great second half of the season last year to finish 41-41, but they missed out on Gordon Hayward and other top free agent targets. Their team is much of the same cast as last year, so there’s a possibility that this team can either be the first half of the season Heat or the second half of the season Heat.

6. Toronto Raptors – Ok, here’s where the contenders start to show up. Assuming the Knicks are better than the bottom eight teams, they would have to really compete with the top six. The Raptors have extended their championship window for a few years with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on contract, but playoff Kyle Lowry doesn’t show up and the team suffers mightily as a result.

5. Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets made the biggest jump in the projections with the addition of a diminishing Dwight Howard, so I think the fifth seed may be a bit too high for them. Assuming everyone remains healthy, this team could definitely make the playoffs, but how much noise they make in it is a whole another story.

4. Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks could benefit from an MVP-caliber season from the “Greek Freak,” and Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon may be in for a larger role, but the success of the Bucks will lie on the surgically repaired knees of Jabari Parker. Giannis Antetokounmpo needs a partner in crime, and if Parker can’t stay healthy, the Bucks will struggle to finish games.

3. Washington Wizards – Washington locked up its backcourt for years to come with Bradley Beal and John Wall, but its front court remains a liability. Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris are decent starters, but they are holding back the firepower of the Wizards’ backcourt. If you gave me the choice between Porzingis/Hernangomez and Morris/Gortat, I’m going with the Knicks’ duo.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers – I’ll keep this one short and simple: If the Cavaliers deal Kyrie Irving, LeBron James will not be enough to keep this team in title contention.

1. Boston Celtics – There’s not much to dislike about the Celtics. They brought in Gordon Hayward and drafted Jayson Tatum, setting themselves up to compete now and for the next decade. Not even I can find many flaws in this team to convince you that the Knicks could possibly beat them. If I had to pick one, it may be a chemistry issue fitting Hayward into the rotation. Chances are though that they figure that one out quickly.

Each team in the East has its weaknesses. If the Cavaliers shake up the conference by trading Kyrie Irving, the question becomes who will compete with the Celtics.

A rejuvenated Carmelo Anthony, a much improved Kristaps Porzingis, and the wild card of an 18-year-old pro in Frank Ntilikina could be that answer.

Must Read: Pros and Cons of potentially signing Alan Anderson

This is all ambitious, and a little bit crazy, but why not be optimistic about the New York Knicks?