Last season, the Knicks were 11 games out of the playoffs. In the East, where a rotation of warm bodies and a couple of guys where you say “they’re not bad” gets you in the playoff conversation.
After a solid free agent summer — despite Carmelo Anthony’s frustration — are the Knicks now a playoff team?
None other than the Round Mound of Rebound Charles Barley said yes they are, in an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
This isn’t crazy. Or even wrong.
Let’s do a surface breakdown of the East:
Tier 1) Cleveland Cavaliers. They are the best team in the East. Maybe one of the teams in tier two can rise up and challenge them, but the Cavaliers set the bar and are the team to beat in the East.
Tier 2) Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks. This may be the most interesting grouping in the NBA next season (either them or the top five in the West) — each team has both potential and real questions. Maybe one rises up and challenges Cleveland (not Milwaukee yet), maybe a team falls, but they are all likely playoff teams.
Tier 3) New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic. One, maybe two (depending on injuries), of these teams make the playoffs next season, and you can make a case for or against any one of them. There are questions about the roster and development in each case, and with veterans such as Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez, the Knicks may be ahead of the curve.
Personally, I think Detroit and Boston are ahead of the Knicks, but that is opinion, not fact. If the Knicks prove me wrong and finish higher on this curve, that is not a huge shock. Picking them to make the playoffs is not out of line.
Don’t worry, Charles Barkley will say something wildly out of line soon enough. Just be patient.