For the New York Knicks to have a chance to make it to the playoffs in 2023, they’ll have to go through the play-in tournament first. It’s unlikely that New York will be able to secure a top-six seed to avoid the play-in altogether. The Knicks should be able to finish in the top 10 but in a tough Eastern Conference, the team has their work cut out for them.
Last season, New York finished 11th in the East with a 37-45 record. The Charlotte Hornets secured the final play-in spot with a 43-39 record, six games ahead of the Knicks. This season, New York could be the one to finish above Charlotte.
The Hornets are coming off an offseason where their biggest move was re-signing Cody Martin to a four-year deal. Charlotte added center Mark Williams and wing Bryce McGowens via the draft along with three second-round picks (including one from the Knicks) and one first-round pick.
Miles Bridges was arrested for domestic violence in June and his case was recently continued to Oct. 17. The Hornets let his $7.9 million qualifying offer expire, and with his future unclear, there’s a chance that he won’t play in the NBA again.
That leaves LaMelo Ball, the 21-year-old point guard who earned his first All-Star honor last season. Well, actually, Charlotte will have to start the regular season without Ball.
Knicks’ offseason should allow for them to finish above Hornets in 2022-23
Ball suffered the ankle sprain in a preseason game against the Washington Wizards on Monday after Anthony Gill stepped on the guard’s foot. Luckily, the MRI didn’t reveal anything worse than a sprain, but Charlotte’s star being out for the start of the season is yet another issue that’s been added to the organization’s list of misfortune.
The Hornets’ five playoff appearances since the 2000-01 season are worse than the Knicks’ six appearances, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon for Charlotte.
New York shouldn’t overlook any team in the East, but in theory, the Knicks should be able to finish above the Hornets in the standings this season. Charlotte could end up being in the running for Victor Wembanyana, but if the Hornets end up trending in that direction, LaMelo Ball could be on a new team before the end of the season.
The Knicks will face the Hornets for the first time this season on Oct. 26 at MSG. With that game less than two weeks away, Ball may or may not be back by then. Either way, fans will get an early chance to see how the Knicks match up against the team that finished one spot ahead of them last season.