The Knicks got better this offseason. That much is undeniable. How much better is up for debate, and not a lot of analysts are expecting New York to seriously compete for a playoff spot. FiveThirtyEight’s recently released projections have them winning just 27 games, which is a 10-win improvement over last season, but still not enough to be a playoff team. But don’t tell that to Carmelo Anthony, who’s using all of the negative preseason press as motivation.
From ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:
“If people are predicting 27 wins, I laugh at that,” Carmelo Anthony said after practice on Tuesday. “We use that as kind of motivation. It’s a good thing to kind of be under the radar. I know what type of team we have. It’s just a matter of going out there and putting it together. … I think we’ll be better than people predict.”
That’s exactly what you’d expect Anthony to say, and you hope he feels that way. But 27 wins sounds right about where the Knicks will probably end up. This team has more talent than it did last year after a solid summer of signing veterans like Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez. But rookie Kristaps Porzingis probably isn’t going to contribute much right away, and Derek Fisher is still mostly unproven as a head coach. The eighth seed in the Eastern Conference is wide open and the Knicks could get in that race if they outperform expectations. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. But even if they aren’t very good this year, a 10-win improvement over last year’s abysmal finish is a huge win for the franchise from a long-term standpoint. It would be something to build on, which the Knicks haven’t had for a while.