The New York Knicks securing the 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference last year was a miracle given the lack of talent at specific positions. Thanks to All-Star power forward Julius Randle, the team relied on his offensive production to win an impressive string of games during the latter portion of the year.
At one point during the season between April 9 and May 3, the Knicks won 12-of-13 games, pulling away with a nice lead in the East to secure a guaranteed postseason spot. However, for any team to string together that many wins is complex. The Knicks will realistically drop a few spots in the standings, given the improvements made around them for teams like Atlanta and Miami. It is entirely possible the Knicks land in the play-in tournament, battling with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.
However, the 6th Seed in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs, with both Miami and Atlanta inching closer toward being considered elite-level teams.
Projected top-10 standings in the Eastern Conference:
1.) Milwaukee Bucs
Coming off a Championship win, Milwaukee is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Given their talent retention and chemistry, they will be fighting with Brooklyn alone for the top two spots.
2.) Brooklyn Nets
With a Healthy Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are neck-and-neck with Milwaukee. However, the Nets’ trio of stars have had injury issues in the past, so guaranteeing that will be available for the entire campaign is a tough sell, but as we saw during last yearâ€™s postseason, Durant alone is capable of beating teams.
3.) Philadelphia 76ers
Even if Philadelphia strikes a deal for Ben Simmons, they are still a favorite in the Eastern Conference and sit a level above Miami and Atlanta, putting them in the 3rd Seed.
4.) Miami Heat
The Heat got better this off-season, signing point guard Kyle Lowry and one of the best role players in the league, PJ Tucker. Tucker was a vital part of Milwaukeeâ€™s championship run last season and represents a quality veteran. They also added Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo, adding even more talent to a stout young team.
5.) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks completely dominated the Knicks during postseason play, but that was without Mitchell Robinson and the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. Atlanta added John Collins on a five-year, $125 million extension, retained Lou Williams, and signed Solomon Hill. They elected to keep some of their more prominent names than go fishing in the market, but they are a strong team, building chemistry quickly.
6.) New York Knicks
The New York Knicks did enough to stay out of play-in postseason contention, with the 6th Seed entirely up for grabs after Miami and Atlanta. Fournier offers a legitimate upgrade offensively over Reggie Bullock, and Kemba Walker has the potential to change the dynamic of the team entirely at the PG position. If they can remain healthy and consistent, the Knicks could be fighting with Atlanta for the fifth spot, but they are a young team with an upward trajectory, and thatâ€™s all you can ask for if youâ€™re a Knicks fan.
7.) Boston Celtics
8.) Washington Wizards
9.) Indiana Pacers
10.) Charlotte Hornets
Overall, landing the 4th Seed or better is unlikely for the Knicks given the upgrades other teams made around them, but that doesnâ€™t mean they will miss out on the playoffs. They still have a strong foundation built on defense, and adding more production in the scoring department will only assist in making them a better team.