Last season the New York Knicks were 54-28, and won their first Atlantic Division title in 19 seasons.
It was a positive sign for a franchise that had been a paragon of futility for upwards of a decade, even with the second round playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers in six games.
The 15-27 start the Knicks (losers of five straight) have gotten off to this year has destroyed all the positive momentum from last year.
Earlier this week, Forbes reported that the Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable franchise valued at $1.4 billion. That will make Knicks’ owner James Dolan happy, but it will not please the fan base that pays exorbitant ticket prices to watch these Knicks play.
The Knicks have had a litany of issues, not including the management that assembled this team. Lack of effort, coaching, execution and injuries have all played a part in the Knicks’ poor start.
The core of the team was kept intact, but the veteran leadership lost seems to have negatively impacted the morale of the team.
You can blame Mike Woodson for some of his rotation decisions and inability to motivate the players, but when the team loses to the lowly 76ers and gets outrebounded 54-39 some of the blame is on the players. Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith have all regressed this season. Andrea Bargnani — who the Knicks traded three picks (including a first rounder) for — has shown flashes, but he has been the inconsistent player he was in Toronto more often than not.
The lack of help has only put more pressure on Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony has stepped up his effort this season, evidenced by his nine rebound per game average. Anthony is also averaging 26.1 points per game, but even he is struggling shooting 43.8 percent. Anthony is paid to be a closer, but he is 1-for-18 in the last minute of games within 5 points this season.
“It’s like a recurring nightmare,” Anthony said in reference to the Knicks inability to win games.
With 40 games left, the Knicks are three games out of 8th place in the Eastern Conference, trailing Charlotte, Detroit and Cleveland in the standings. There is still a good chance the Knicks will make the playoffs, but it is hard to envision them advancing past the first round.
Barring a miraculous turnaround, this season has probably cost Mike Woodson his job and has certainly decreased the chance Carmelo Anthony will re-sign in the offseason.
The truth is the Knicks are a flawed team, and that is the most disappointing fact about a team that had the best season for the franchise in recent memory.