NBA Power Rankings: Where do The Knicks stack up in the East?

Julius Randle, Bam Adebayo, NY Knicks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Julius Randle, Bam Adebayo, NY Knicks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks have already surpassed their expected win total heading into the season, and now the team finds itself in the thick of a hotly contested Eastern Conference playoff race. With the way The East has shaped out thus far, there seem to be 3 teams locked into the top of the conference: The 76ers, Nets, and Bucks. Outside of those three, the rest of the playoff picture seems to fluctuate every single day.

As it stands right now, The Knicks are strong candidates to make the playoffs. They’ve established a clear team identity Thibodeau that I’m not sure some of their competitors have. With that said, The Knicks have been erratic in their level of play. They seem to frequently play up and down to their competition – The team had their worst loss of the season Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. So where does the team stack up with the rest of The East?

Where do The Knicks rank in The East?

As mentioned earlier, The Knicks have done a lot of playing up and down to their competition this season. They’ve come excruciatingly close to wins against some of the league’s best teams, and they’ve come terrifyingly close having multiple losses to the league’s worst teams. They’ve been able to remain in the playoff picture in the weaker Eastern Conference.

In the East, we know The Bucks, 76ers, and Nets are firmly above The Knicks, so what about everyone else? In ESPN’s latest power rankings from March 29th, The Knicks had climbed all the way to 12th in the NBA. is that still true today?

Looking at some of the teams ranked lower than the Knicks in ESPN’s ranking, The Miami Heat jump off the page as a team that got better at the trade deadline (Acquiring Victor Oladipo). They have also had the Knicks’ number this season. Given the team’s recent playoff success and Eric Spoelstra’s history, I fully expect The Heat to finish above New York and they should be a spot above them in the power rankings. New York hasn’t gotten close, but Miami has edged them out a few times this season.

One spot below The Knicks on ESPN’s ranking is The Boston Celtics. It’s easy to write some of the same narratives that The Celtics will eventually “Figure it out”, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. The Celtics have some depth problems in both their backcourt and in with their bigs. It’s been holding them back all season long, despite the play of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Kemba Walker has struggled with injuries, and really, I think this team is close but slightly worse than The Knicks. The Celtics may have similar personnel and the same head coach, but they haven’t looked like the same team from last season at any point this year.

I’m not sure the rest of The Knicks’ Eastern Conference competition is there with them either. Here are the records of the other teams fighting for a playoff spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets: 24-22
  • Atlanta Hawks: 23-24
  • Indiana Pacers: 21-25
  • Chicago Bulls: 19-27

The Bulls made the biggest trade of the deadline: A win-now move to acquire Nikola Vucevic. The pair of Vucevic and LaVine is definitely exciting, but I’m not sure it guarantees Chicago any immediate success, they should still be treated as a fringe playoff team. The same goes for The Pacers, who have struggled lately.

For the Hornets, it’s hard to trust them after losing LaMelo Ball for potentially the rest of the season. They’ve had a terrific season, but I’m not sure they can fully recover from losing their Rookie of The Year point guard. As for The Hawks, it’s certainly close.

Since firing Lloyd Pierce at the beginning of March when the team was 14-20, they’ve been playing inspired basketball under Nate McMillan. They’re one of the hottest teams in the NBA, but they’ve also lost both matchups to The Knicks this season. Even after a horrendous loss to The Timberwolves, I’m going to have to choose The Knicks over The Hawks by a razor-thin margin, simply because of the head-to-head record.

Based on all these factors: Injuries, recent play, head-to-head records: The likely landing spot for The Knicks in the NBA power rankings at the beginning of April is about 5th in the Eastern Conference and 13th in the NBA. Not bad for a team that Vegas set the over/under at 22.5 wins in the preseason.

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