In a recent edition of The Athletic’s preseason power rankings, analyst Zach Harper placed the New York Knicks 13th in the NBA. The Knicks found themselves in Tier 4, dubbed “Play-in Battleground.” This ranking comes off as a slight to New York’s potential, especially following their impressive performance last season.
Prior to last season, John Hollinger of The Athletic anticipated the New York Knicks would end 10th in the East with a 39-43 record, securing the final play-in tournament spot. This prediction was following a dismal 2021-22 season, where the Knicks finished with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs. However, the Knicks rose above these low expectations, ending the season with a 47-35 record, the 8th best in the NBA. They also secured the 5th seed in the East and achieved a first-round series victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite this remarkable performance, New York’s current ranking suggests that the trend of underestimating the Knicks persists.
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The Knicks’ Unjustified Ranking
In explaining the Knicks’ ranking, Harper stated, “The Knicks went into this offseason and decided they’re pretty much good where they are. I’m just not certain their ceiling goes beyond what we saw last season. They have depth and identity, which is more than you can say for most teams. I just wonder if this squad is capable of evolving further or if they’re just waiting for a disgruntled star to become available. We don’t hear a lot about the Knicks pursuing the big guns. Maybe we should again.”
However, the Knicks’ decision to maintain their current lineup should not be perceived negatively. With limited superstars available and a lack of free-agent talent on the market, the Knicks’ patience is commendable.
The Knicks not only have depth but young depth, boasting an average age of just 25.2. They further fortified their depth by signing backup guard Donte DiVincenzo. As long as the Knicks stay healthy next season, there is no reason they can’t build on their success, particularly considering the youthful talent on their roster.
Knicks Defying Expectations
Considering the Knicks’ impressive finish last season, Harper’s prediction for next season would signify regression. Nevertheless, perhaps underestimating the Knicks could serve as motivation for this young squad. As they enter the next season, they will undoubtedly look to defy expectations again, and earn the respect they deserve across the league.