As the best players are ranked for the 2019-20 NBA season, what happened to the New York Knicks who were placed the year before?
NBA previews have begun for the 2019-20 season, which is just five weeks away. The New York Knicks’ expectations may be tempered for another year, but their top players hold intrigue, including Julius Randle, who made Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA Players for this season.
Whether Randle lives up to that hype remains unknown, but what about Knicks who were in previous Top 100 lists? That dates back to September 2018, when the 2018-19 season neared:
Despite a torn ACL that was known to keep him out for the season, Kristaps Porzingis was still ranked No. 58 by ESPN and No. 52 by Sports Illustrated. He never played, of course, rehabbing the injury for the first half of the season, until the shocking midseason trade with the Dallas Mavericks.
The new team kept Porzingis out, but he will look to make his Mavs debut in October. A Knicks meet-up is not far away, either.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. landed No. 81 on ESPN’s Top 100 list, after posting 17.5 points per game the season prior. Without Porzingis, the Michigan product was expected to lead the team in scoring, and that happened in the first six weeks of the season, including averaging over 20 points per game.
However, streaky shooting took over around Thanksgiving, much like his previous NBA seasons, and never disappeared. It sunk Hardaway to a poor 38.8 percent shooting and 19.1 points, which mostly resulted from a high volume of attempts.
On January 31, the Knicks included the veteran shooting guard in the Porzingis trade, allowing them to clear cap space for the 2019 offseason, as Hardaway’s contract had two guaranteed seasons attached and a player option for 2021-22. He succumbed to injuries after just 19 games in Dallas while barely shooting over 40 percent. Returning to a Top 100 spot will be difficult to replicate.
However, Kanter’s poor defense was exposed and he fell behind the depth chart in favor of “developmental.” Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet took precedence, forcing the Turkish big man into a reserve role for 21 of the 44 games he appeared in. He still averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest, but they were glorified stats.
Kanter joined the Trail Blazers are receiving his release. He played in 23 games and contributed to their playoff run, and the New York Knicks continued to work their young players.