So you’re saying there’s a chance…
Not many people have the Knicks as a playoff team (I had them 12th in the East in their power rankings, but could see them as high as 10th), primarily because of the uncertainty around the return of Kristaps Porzingis from a torn ACL. The earliest he is expected back is around Christmas, and him missing the entire season out of the question. Without him, even in the East, it’s hard to see the Knicks winning a lot.
Rookie Kevin Knox, coming off a strong Summer League in Las Vegas, doesn’t see it that way. He also thinks the Las Vegas over/under on wins of 29.5 sells the team short. Here is what he told Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“People are sleeping on us with the 29 wins. I think we definitely can win at least 35 and get in that playoff talk. That’s my personal opinion. Everyone has their own opinion. But the whole team, I’m pretty confident we’re really good this year, that we have a chance to make the playoffs.”
The Knicks have some solid players — Tim Hardaway Jr., Mario Hezonja, Enes Kanter — and some guys with potential such as Frank Ntilikina (who did not sell me at Summer League this year) and Knox. They have a new coach who gets it in David Fizdale. However, without Porzingis they just don’t have the star power to really compete night in and night out in the NBA. This isn’t Las Vegas anymore, the talent level Knox has seen is about to make a massive leap.
Still, Knox is saying all the right things — he just wants to win.
“I’m pretty confident I can be one of the top rookies,” Knox said at the photo event staged at the Knicks’ Tarrytown campus. “But one of my goals this year is just to win in New York. I’m not really worried about winning the rookie award. I just want to win as a team, take road games, play some of the top teams and beat them to make the playoffs. Ultimately I want to win. That’s my main focus as my rookie year.”
Knox is a legitimate dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year — he should get plenty of touches and showed impressive athleticism in Las Vegas. As long as his focus is not that goal and is instead of just getting better (and winning) he will be another key piece for the Knicks when they do turn the corner.