As the NBA season continues to wind down and near its conclusion, it’s a good time to reflect on some surprising moments for the New York Knicks this season. Here are three unforeseen experiences...
1. Kristaps Porzingis' Rookie Season
Kristaps Porzingis, last year’s 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft, has had an overall good season. He’s seen his share of struggles recently by dropping his shooting percentages to 42.4 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. One main reason his numbers have dropped is due to fatigue. Porzingis played 50 games with Baloncesto Sevilla in the Spanish league last year before entering the NBA. On Thursday night, he played his 64th game of the season. The 20-year old Latvian is still averaging 14 points, seven boards and two blocks per contest. New York head coach Kurt Rambis told the New York Post during a practice session, "You look at how many games rookies played in college and in Europe and the travel in the NBA, it's an adjustment process. It’s developing NBA stamina. It’s difficult on all of the young players."
Porzingis has impressed many since the start of the season. His putback dunk over LaMarcus Aldridge was one his first highlights which occurred on November 2nd, the fourth game of his career.
Porzingis made the NBA Rising Stars Challenge in February and represented team World. Some of the top names around the league have also acknowledge the talented 7-foot-3 big man. After squaring off against Porzingis on December 8th, former NBA Champion Dirk Nowitzki told the media during the post game interview that, "He’s probably way ahead of the curve compared to when I was 20. I was scared to death out there competing against some of my heroes that first year. He’s way better than I was at 20."
Kevin Durant called him "Unicorn" and prior to visiting Madison Square Garden on January 25th, he said, "He can shoot, he can make the right plays, he can defend, he’s a 7-footer that can shoot all the way out the 3-point line. That's rare," according to ESPN. He then added "You’ve got to respect what he’s doing. This being New York City, everything is under a microscope, but he’s progressing at a high rate pretty fast, and he’s going to be a force."
Although it seems like Karl-Anthony Towns will be the one to win Rookie of the Year, Porzingis had made his name known around the league. He is a star in the making.
2. Carmelo Anthony’s All-Around Improvement
Throughout his career, Carmelo Anthony has been mostly known for his scoring talent. He holds career averages of 25 points, 3.1 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. This season, Anthony continues to lead his team in points, while averaging career highs in assists and boards. He holds current averages of 21.8 points 4.2 assists and eight boards per game. It's no question the 31-year-old continues to give it his all for his team. He also remains optimistic about New York. Prior to the trade deadline, his name had been thrown around in different trade scenarios, including one to the Cleveland Cavaliers to team up with his good friend LeBron James. The Syracuse product went on to express his opinion on the rumors on Sirius XM NBA Radio, saying "There’s always some trade s--- going. I don’t pay attention to those rumors. I’m not going anywhere." Anthony has played 2083 minutes this season.
3. The Downfall of New York
Unlike the first two surprises being postive, this is one fans would have prefer not to see. After starting the season 22-22 and briefly being at the .500 mark, the Knicks have taken a huge step down. They are 5-17 in their last 22 games, and although they haven’t been officially eliminated from playoff contention, a miracle will be needed for them to try and grab the eighth and final spot. Their record currently stands at 27-39. As Anthony said in a post-game interview with CBS New York, "Everything just shifted all of a sudden. We had some momentum going, it just went downhill from then. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, it just went downhill from there. The losing gets frustrating."
With the signings of Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Robin Lopez last summer, many predicted the Knicks to at least land in one of the final post-season spots. The last time New York saw any playoff action was three years ago when they were the second seed with a season record of 54-28 and made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Anthony knows the window of championship hopes is beginning to wind down for him and he is ready to recruit some superstar talent in the offseason. "Put me at the head of the table and let’s go to work," he said in a interview with the New York Post. "If we want this team to be better, if we want more pieces of this team, I don’t have a choice but to go out there and do my job and try to get people to come." The Knicks have 16 games remaining in the season.