Knicks Have Improved, but are they Ready for What’s Ahead
Wayne Root: Knicks Have Improved, but are they Ready for What's Ahead?
The New York Knicks have made amazing strides since last season. You regular readers know that I still pay a lot of attention to the New York sports teams because of my roots in the Big Apple. I was born as a true S.O.B. (son of a butcher!) in Mt. Vernon, NY. Even though I've lived out here in Vegas for many years now...I still have great connections, and a great record in New York sports.
The Knicks are 25-17 against the spread this season...catching oddsmakers napping with improvements on both sides of the floor. If the season ended right now, they wouldn't make the playoffs. But, they'd be knocking on the door! Still plenty of time to crash the postseason party. And, a recent six-game cover streak included these strong road results over playoff-bound teams:
*New York (+7.5) won at Atlanta 107-101
*New York (+7.5) won at Miami 98-90 (on night two of a back-to-back!)
*New York (+14.5) lost at San Antonio 100-99
These guys can play with anybody. But, they can also turn right around and lose to Brooklyn! Consistency of focus and effort will need to be a priority moving forward. Still, this team has come so far from last season under new GM Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher
Offensive Efficiency: #14 this year, #29 last year
Defensive Efficiency: #18 this year, #28 last year
You probably know that 16 teams make the playoffs. So, New York's rankings will at least have them in the discussion. They're balanced, and playing at a level that's at least consistent with the final few teams to get into the brackets. HUGE strides from the horrible basketball they were playing a year ago.
Though, a lot is going on here, the town has certainly been galvanized by the addition of 20-year-old 7-footer Kristaps Porzingis. People laughed when his name was called at the draft. Nobody's laughing any more! Still just a kid, he's averaging 13.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in his first half season in the NBA. And, he's doing it with the kind of flair and attitude that New Yorkers in particular love to see.
This is going to be an exciting team to watch the rest of this season, and hopefully beyond.
I'll really be paying close attention to what happens through the rest of January. The Knicks need to keep their concentration through an MLK day game with Philadelphia. Then...these matchups are coming up very soon...
Wednesday: vs. Utah
Friday: vs. the LA Clippers
January 26: vs. Oklahoma City
January 28: at Toronto
January 31: vs. Golden State
Now...WAYNE ALLYN ROOT isn't here to tell you that the Knicks are about to knock off the Clippers, Thunder, and Warriors! THE KING OF UPSETS has to keep a level head when the Knicks are playing well. But, I'm very interested to see how they handle the challenge of playing high profile TV games in front of a home crowd that's starting to have some expectations. Gotham wants to go crazy for the Knicks in those games. Will the players come through in the only visits this year from guys like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook?
Here are my biggest concerns for the Knicks in the second half of the season:
*Porzingis gets tired, which is natural for young rookies
*Opponents start to take them more seriously, making upsets harder
*Too much too soon in terms of wins and local expectations
*It all implodes when the honeymoon winds down
It's easy to get too excited too quickly when a young team starts to play well. The party atmosphere turns sour as opponents make adjustments...as fatigue sets in...and as veteran opponents who were pacing themselves kick things up to a notch the Knicks just don't have yet.
For now...there are still reasons to look at the Knicks for value. I'll be picking my spots through the rest of the month with this team. And, if there are never any early warning signs for an implosion...I might keep right on doing that through February and March!
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The political races are starting to talk about "New York values." I know a little something about politics (I was a candidate for Vice President on the Libertarian ticket) and I know A LOT about New York values! NEW YORKERS ARE WINNERS! It's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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