Knicks make NBA’s biggest jump in nationally televised games

Knicks players Julius Randle and Nerlens Noel
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The Knicks are seventh in the Eastern Conference. They could make the playoffs for the first time in eight years. They have an All-Star.

That’s enough for the NBA to give New York – a market that gets every benefit of the doubt – many more nationally televised games in the second portion of the schedule.

The Knicks have six games set to air on ABC, TNT and ESPN after the All-Star break. That’s up from only one in the original schedule – the biggest increase in the league.

That could backfire. The Knicks are just 15-17. Their offense has been poor. Their much-stronger defense has been boosted by opponents shooting just 32% on 3-pointers – likely an unstainable mark. Julius Randle, though having an excellent season so far, probably isn’t one of the 12 best players in the East.

But the New York market offers opportunity for major viewership, and the Knicks have been competitive. The league will roll the dice on this team.

Of course, the Lakers – the defending champions who play in Los Angeles feature LeBron James and Anthony Davis – have the most national TV games in the second portion of the schedule (15 not including NBA TV, which I didn’t count for any team).

The Nets – who added James Harden to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – rank second in such games (14). Highly talented, Brooklyn is already showing cohesiveness.

On the flip side from New York, Houston – which traded Harden and fell off accordingly – had the biggest drop in nationally televised games. The Rockets had seven nationally televised games in the original schedule and only one in the next portion.

Eight teams have no nationally televised games on the second portion of the schedule. Seven of them are at or near the bottom of the standings. The big exception: The Spurs, who are 16-11 and fifth in the West.

But this isn’t about which teams “deserve” national-TV games. Its about the NBA maximizing revenue, and San Antonio is a relatively small market.

Here’s how many games each team has on ABC, TNT and ESPN in the second portion of the NBA’s schedule: