The Tanklantic is a weekly feature that covers the NBA’s Atlantic teams this season, where it looks like every team outside of Toronto is sinking right to the bottom. This week, it’s all about the New York Knicks.
The Knicks have been the most disappointing team this season with their record of 12-46, which has placed them last in the Eastern Conference. Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson have plenty of work to do to try to change this organisation’s attitude into a winning culture. At the moment, it looks like a rapid decline to failure for the Knicks – but can they change this?
No Carmelo means no wins?
The big story for the Knicks this season is the decision for Carmelo Anthony to surgically repair the patella tendon in his left knee, a choice that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
The choice was made as Melo was playing for no reason; the Knicks aren’t going to make the playoffs, and there’s no point in keeping your best player on the court when there’s no goal at the end. Losing Melo is huge for the Knicks, but perhaps a huge loss is just what they need as the Knicks now hold the worst record in the NBA.
Fast forward to the NBA Draft, this record would give them the best chance of securing the number one pick in the 2015 draft. Tanking for that pick should be the Knicks’ main goal at this point of the season, as drafting the best young player will give them a much-needed boost.
The rules for securing the number draft pick are as follows:
- The 14 teams that miss the playoffs are all eligible for the draft lottery
- These teams are ranked in reverse order of their regular season record, and are assigned chances in securing the number one pick
The image below shows the chances of landing the number one pick:
The loss of Carmelo Anthony is a blessing in disguise. The Knicks will suffer for the rest of the season, but will (hopefully) reap the rewards in the draft. Tanking can be extremely frowned upon, but in New York’s situation, it’s the only option they have. It’s looking likely that the Knicks will finish with one of the worst records when they’re playing without Melo. The stats below compare when Carmelo is on and off the court, the differences are huge, especially on the offensive end. The Knicks struggle to score when they’re playing without their star (image via Basketball Reference):
When Carmelo is off the court, the Knicks are scoring 13.5 less points. Those type of numbers are huge, especially when the Knicks are such a bad team. New York are depending on a declining Jose Calderon, a streaky Tim Hardaway and an inconsistent Andrea Bargnani to help them win games. A horrible combination when you think about it, but for the Knicks situation, it’s something that they would secretly be happy about. A lower offensive production usually results in losses, therefore increasing their chances of securing the number one pick.
The Knicks lack in all positions apart from the small forward. Draft prospects such as Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay would be perfect for the Knicks. It looks likely that they’ll have a high chance to draft any of these players. Big men such as Okafor and Towns would be perfect for the Knicks. New York lack a big man and haven’t seen a franchise big man since Patrick Ewing. Could either of these two be the next stars for the Knicks?
Guards Russell and Mudiay are both fantastic players in their own rights. Both are athletic and can shoot the ball. New York are desperately in need of a young and promising player to join the team, and they’re hoping they can draft the right player for them through the 2015 NBA Draft.
What’s next for the Knicks?
The main priority for New York is to draft a new franchise player to lead the Knicks to success in the future. Once they’ve done this, their next priority should be building through free agency. New York have roughly $35 million in cap room to spend this offseason, via Basketball Reference. There’s a fair chance that the Knicks could have five players on the books for next season at the end of the year, suggesting that they need to spend big and make some moves if they want to become competitive in the next couple of years.
There’s some players that come to mind when I think about what players would best suit the Knicks. Two forwards and two guards come to mind. It was recently reported by NYPost that the Knicks have a good chance of signing unrestricted free agent Greg Monroe through free agency. Monroe is a decent defender and can score very well in the post. This type of inside presence is what the Knicks desperately need. Imagine pairing Monroe up with Jahlil Okafor? The youth and excitement that they could bring to New York would be incredible. Greg will be chasing a close to max contract offer this offseason, which the Knicks could easily afford.
Another young forward that could fit into New York is Orlando Magic forward, Tobias Harris. Tobias has the ability to play as a stretch four, and could easily be paired up with Carmelo Anthony. Harris is probably a cheaper alternative that Monroe, but still has the potential that could match Monroe’s.
Guards Reggie Jackson or Patrick Beverley would suit the Knicks well. Beverley brings defensive awareness and toughness to any team, something that the Knicks desperately need. Patrick would be a cheaper option, but a player that would fit well as a starter, just like he’s shown in Houston. Reggie Jackson is a player that the Knicks have valued for a long time, his offensive arsenal and passing ability would bring some gmuch-needed excitement to the point guard position.
The free agency period is arguably one of the most important times of the year, especially for the Knicks. The Zen Master has something planned and he’s going to make a splash this offseason, if you’re a Knicks fan, stay patient and the rewards will come.
Stay tuned for next week as we look into the Toronto Raptors.