The New York Knicks spent this past summer building a “super team,” at least according to Derrick Rose. Here’s what the new point guard told NBA.com about the Knicks’ chances in 2016-’17:
“They’re high,” Rose said. “I mean, with these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams, and they’re trying not to build that many super teams, and Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that. And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win. Talking to Melo and all the guys who’ve been around. You’ve got Brandon who just signed for one year; he’s got to show why he’s there. I’ve got to show why I’m there. Joakim has to show why he’s there. Everybody’s trying to prove themselves.”
Like many others, Rose failed to mention the importance of Kristaps Porzingis to the Knicks franchise. It’s crazy how things can change in a short span.
During the regular season, the Latvian rookie was the beacon of hope for a struggling team whose only true star was an aging Carmelo Anthony. Porzingis was arguably the best player from the 2016 NBA Draft class aside from Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Thomas, who earned Rookie of the Year honors.
Porzingis averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while averaging a .421 field goal and .333 three-point percentages. The Latvian rookie recorded 21 double-doubles and scored at least 20 points in 14 games.
Obviously, there’s strengths and areas for improvement to his game, as is the case with most rookies. At 7-foot-3, it’s unfair for Porzingis to be as good of a shooter as he is, especially from the three-point area.
Porzingis made 81 three-pointers and attempted 243, which set a new all-time record for players listed at 7-foot-3 or taller. His post game continues to improve, which has been his focus this summer. Still, there’s no denying that Porzingis is already an exciting player with plenty of upside for a bright future in New York.
But most of the Knicks talk heading into this season surrounds the moves the team made. Can Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah stay healthy? Are they still elite superstars? Will Brandon Jennings have a career renaissance as New York’s sixth man?
All of these are short-term solutions to the Knicks’ struggles. But Porzingis is the face of the franchise moving forward.
Let’s assume that the Knicks actually are a “super team” and both Noah and Rose are back to MVP candidate form. Many have assumed that makes Porzingis the third or fourth option in New York’s offense. Still, some others seem to think otherwise.
The second-year forward cracked Sports Illustrated’s ongoing Top 100 NBA players for 2017 list Tuesday, while Rose and Noah were left off. Many assume Anthony will be the only other Knick included, so there’s that.
Regardless of whether he’s received enough attention this offseason, Porzingis will remain a crucial part of the Knicks offense. Perhaps new head coach Jeff Hornacek has a better idea for how to balance shot attempts. That remains to be seen.
But Porzingis is still the future of the franchise regardless of whether he’s the first or fourth offensive option in 2016-’17.