The Knicks Wall staff comes together to provide bold predictions for the upcoming Knickerbockers season.
Well, it’s that time of the year where Knicks basketball is played and we slowly succumb to Friday nights staying in watching Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Clyde Frazier boast about his restaurant, and fake comebacks galore.
As is The Knicks Wall tradition, we gather the writers and staff together and ask for their thoughts about this team. Kristaps Porzingis is sidelined until further notice—although he’s with the team and coaching from his seats—Kevin Knox is an enticing rookie forward, Mitchell Robinson could be the steal of the draft, and so many more topics come to mind when trying to look at the 2018–19 season.
Without further ado, let’s drum up some predictions.
1. What will be the Knicks’ record by the end of the season?
Harley Geffner: I have the Knicks at 27 wins, give or take two. Vegas set the over/under at 32, but I think that’s the result of too many optimistic Knicks fans betting the over.
Peter Saclarides: Not to be overly negative or anything but I expect this team to be disgustingly bad. If they win more than 25 games I’ll be surprised. Its #TankSZN! Again!
Kevin Gamgort: At the end of the season, the Knicks will boast a 32-50 record. In a weaker Eastern Conference, I see the Knicks slightly improving their record from last year even without the presence of Kristaps Porzingis.
Harrison Liao: If I’m being conservative and rational (very in amongst Knicks fans now), 82-0. No, in all seriousness, best case scenario would be around 36-46 unless Kristaps Porzingis comes back sooner than expected. Realistically, if the Vegas “Over/Under” for this team was set at 29.5, I’d bet on the “Under.”
Tyler Marko: 26-56. The Knicks are not going to win a lot. An Eastern Conference that’s especially weak at the bottom and flattened lottery odds will help keep them from totally bottoming out, but this team won just six of their last 27 games after Kristaps injury, which extrapolated out would be good for about 18 wins. They’ll be better than that, but not much.
Eli Cohen: The front office has played it close to the vest regarding the timetable for KP’s return, but it seems more and more unlikely he plays before February. Without him, this is a scrappy, try-hard team that will get wins through grit, hustle, and teams playing down to their level. 26-56.
Aaron Summers: Not great. NYK finished 29-53 last season with KP missing the second half the season, so it’ll be hard for them to have a better record this year with his return date still TDB.
Mike Cortez: 29-53. The middle ground of exceeding low expectations while not making the playoffs. Most over/unders have the Knicks around 26 wins. This roster has had some moxie during the preseason. That will translate to the regular season in a softer Eastern Conference. However, they still play in the best division in the conference, and maybe all of basketball, with the only automatic wins coming in the form of that bum team in Brooklyn. They’ll be feisty but still lose a lot of games.
Nick Scolaro: 26-56. The Knicks are essentially a collection of promising but unproven young guys, former lottery picks who are underachievers/busts cast off by other teams and some solid players. The optimism is there, but I don’t believe that translates to many wins this year, especially with KP on the shelf.
Jared Hamburg: An uber-young team that possesses exciting talent. If they put it together under David Fizdale, I think this team will surprise the league with a few gutsy wins. After a very up & down season, the Knicks will finish with 28 wins and 54 losses.
Jack Huntley: 23-59. Or something in that ugly but irrelevant win-loss region. However, much, much more importantly the Knicks will finish with a top-five pick, a healthy Unicorn, and an enviable foundation of assets for a bright future.
Tim Kohut: I actually think the Knicks will have an eerily similar record to the last two seasons. My guess would be 28-54, or a one game drop off from last year. While I do think they have an opportunity to be a better team overall, the up-in-the-air status of Kristaps Porzingis makes me leery about them making the jump.
Eugene Rapay: 34-48. There will be some growing pains as Fizdale adjusts to coaching in New York and doing so with a pretty young team. While New York started preseason with three straight wins, don’t get your hopes too high up for the regular season, especially since Porzingis is out for a good portion of the 82-game slate. However, I do think this team’s young blood will help get them back over the 30-win mark again.
2. Will Kevin Knox win Rookie of the Year?
Harley: Listen, Knox is going to have tons of opportunities this season. He’ll get to play on-ball a lot and has spoken about how much he worked on his reads out of the pick-and-roll as a ball-handler this offseason. Based on his Summer League and the mentality he’s displayed early on, I have him solidly in the top three for ROY. But Doncic is next on the throne. Dude is ready to drop 18-7-5 through the season. I see Knox around 14-6-3 with slightly less efficiency.
Peter: While I’m a fan of Knox and think he’ll be a great player, Rookie of the Year seems a little far-fetched. Even with what we know about his game and his performance in the summer league, with names like Ayton, Doncic, and Bagley debuting this year it’ll be rough for Knox to be the top player of his class.
Kevin: Yes, I believe Kevin Knox will win Rookie of the Year. He should have plenty of opportunities this year to flourish in a feature role with the Knicks.
James: I anticipate a double-double stat line or something close to it for Kevin Knox. ROY or we riot!
Harry: No. He’s very raw, and all signs point to Fizdale fostering a very equal-opportunity offense. He won’t get as many opportunities night-to-night to “carry his team” as someone like, say, Trae Young or Deandre Ayton will.
Tyler: I think Doncic gets a ROY trophy to go with his Euroleague MVP. Knox ends up on an All-Rookie team and will make some noise, but Doncic is so offensively polished and Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle is going to play him into NBA shape. The Mavs are also better equipped to win this year with Jordan and an improving DSJ.
Ty: No, but he may win MVP of the Rising Stars Game. I have a good feeling about it.
Eli: I don’t see why Knox can’t. With opportunity (he’s pretty much locked into the starting small forward spot), visibility (those MSG lights are bright as hell), and most importantly, the green light to shoot as much as he wants, ROY is there for the taking if he’s up to the task.
Kevin Knox LOVES this floater pic.twitter.com/2eIcCfSkQu
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 8, 2018
Aaron: Yes. It’s not his to lose and Deandre Ayton is probably still the favorite, but Knox is the best bet to lead rookies in scoring as of today. If his scoring efficiency can match Ayton’s potential numbers, it may come down to team success.
Mike: My heart is telling me absolutely, but my brain is talking me back down to earth. Luka Doncic will take home the ROY. Knox will still finish with a respectable spot in the voting. Fizdale has told us already Knox will be thrown to the wolves and might be the top scorer until Kristaps is back around. He will average near 20 points per game and make us all happy that this team finally figured out how to rebuild.
Nick: No. I do believe, however, Knox will have an overall decent rookie campaign with many peaks and valleys. But I don’t believe he will have the numbers of a Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, or Collin Sexton.
Jared: No, and that’s okay! Too many other players from this draft have both the talent and playing time needed to win Rookie of the Year. Knox will, however, finish top five in the voting.
Jack: Unfortunately not. He doesn’t have the level of polish offensively to consistently create offense, which he’ll need to do absent a big fish like KP creating open looks for him. He’ll have his moments, for sure, but the Luka Doncic led field is too strong this year.
Tim: If you asked me this question about a month ago, my answer would be a big-time yes. However, after watching his up-and-down preseason against real NBA competition, I’m going to pump the brakes on that for now. I still think the future is bright for Knox, but he may not be as NBA-ready as I once thought.
Eugene: Fort Knox is exciting to watch, but I’m putting my money on Deandre Ayton. Over the last decade, the odds have looked good for a no. 1 overall pick when it comes to winning Rookie of the Year. Ayton joins a Suns team that is desperate for a big frontcourt presence, and it’s likely he adds an impact right away. He’s looking like a potential double-double machine that can be a strong presence on both ends of the court.
3. When does Kristaps Porzingis return from injury this season, if at all?
Harley: Kristaps WANTS to play this season. But again, there is no blueprint set for guys his height coming back from an ACL tear. We have no idea how long it’s going to take. But man, I’d love to see him develop some chemistry with Knox. At least come back for the last month of the season just to try to find a groove with all the young guys. But if it’s not there, it’s not there. No rush.
Peter: Although my hopes along with the rest of the fans is that KP can make it back to the floor by Christmas, I wouldn’t want him to be rushed onto the court. With another season that will likely end in the lottery coming up there’s no need for Kristaps to push himself to get out there. All I can say is it’d be nice if he plays at all.
Kevin: I don’t expect to see KP back on the court at any point this season. By the time he’d be eligible to play, I think the Knicks will already be out of playoff contention. Best to give him the season off and make sure he’s completely healthy for the 2019–20 season.
James: I’ve been a fan of letting KP sit out the season. However, if he’s that confident in a return, it should be after the All Star break. Let the Knicks secure those top-three pick lottery balls. Then, KP, you can have your few meaningless “I’m back” games.
Harry: He’s apparently getting close to moving normally again, so hopefully the team can reintegrate him before their brutal stretch in mid-January when they’ll basically play the best teams in the league for 10 straight games. If he’s not ready by then and the Knicks record tanks, they might not bring him back at all to ensure that his knee is right, and also to improve their draft position for 2019-20.
Tyler: As long as he looks good in practice, KP will play a few games in February to appease any concerns free agents looking at the team cough Kevin Durant cough. He’s 7-foot-3—let him take his time.
Ty: Whenever he’s ready.
Eli: IF he comes back this season, February 24th seems like the choice. It’s Latvian Heritage Night at the Garden and it’s against the Bucks, the team he was hurt playing against, which is oddly poetic. Porzingis missed the first celebration of his homeland. If he’s ready, he’ll want to be out there.
Aaron: I can’t see him coming back until after All-Star break at the very earliest, but that’s me. It’s important for him to come back and prove he’s 100 percent healthy to lure future free agents. The last couple months of the season are plenty of time for him to both be fully ready for his return and perform well when he does.
Mike: March at the earliest, September 2019 the latest. As I’ve mentioned before, there is no real reason for KP to come back this season. Even if the Baby ‘Bockers were to make a surprising playoff run, does KP give them a better chance against the Celtics, Raptors, or Giannis? I don’t think so. I’m all for not tanking but if the losses start to pile up the mere thought of being in position to land someone like R.J. Barrett would be enough for me to tell Porzingis to hold off.
Nick: I project KP to return at some point in March from his knee injury. Despite the fact that the Knicks will be miles away from any playoff contention at that point, his competitive nature and diligent rehab will allow him back onto the floor around then. He also needs to prove to fans, coaches, and free agents that he is back to the star he was blossoming into before the injury.
Kristaps approves pic.twitter.com/hwe9lsOZx9
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 4, 2018
Jared: Kristaps won’t be coming back until he and the team are completely sure that his body has healed properly. The Christmas Day game versus the Bucks is just a publicity stunt to drive fans up the wall, wondering if KP will return then. He won’t and he shouldn’t; KP will make his return the first game after the All-Star break.
Jack: I think he’ll return at some point, in the depths of the season, with a heavy games and minutes restriction to ensure no accidental winning gets in the way of an easy path to a top-five pick. A return will let him shake the mental cobwebs off before the offseason, but I’m glad the tone thus far regarding his rehab has been a cautious one.
Tim: I really think this question is 100 percent contingent on whether or not the Knicks are in playoff contention by the All-Star break. Even if they’re not, I could see Fizdale playing Kristaps 20-25 minutes a game just to shake off some rust and get him into game action. I could see them following a similar protocol to the Sixers during the Embiid injury, or the Pacers after Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury. But they’ve been pretty hush hush about their plans for Kristaps this upcoming season so your guess is as good as mine.
Eugene: I wouldn’t be surprised if Porzingis does get healthy midway through the season, but management comes up with an excuse to sideline and stash him for a fresh start in 2019–20. If Porzingis were to come back, I’m guessing shortly after New Year’s, and he’ll be a nice gift to bring in 2019.
4. What are your bold, wild, and final predictions for the upcoming season?
Harley: You heard it here first, Lance Thomas is going to win the three-point contest. And this is not a bold prediction, but Timmy will take zero steps forward this season.
Peter: This might not necessarily be bold or wild, but one thing that I could see changing up the Knicks’ season is the return of KP. I think it’s very possible that New York is one of the worst teams in the league up until his return, and that Kristaps leads the team on a little run to close out the season.
Kevin: Tim Hardaway Jr. is the lone Knick to represent the East in the NBA All-Star game. Yes, I know this sounds wild, but with KP out THJ should be the go-to scoring option for the Knicks. He averaged a career high 17.8 points per game last season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him eclipse 20. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s playing in the Eastern Conference, which looks to be as weak as ever in terms of pure talent this upcoming season.
James: I don’t have any bold predictions for this team honestly. New coach, our star is out, and we’re finally out of a certain somebody’s shadow. But if I’m forced to pick something—THJ stays healthy at least 65 games, so he can show people he’s worth that price tag.
Harry: Mario Hezonja wins Most Improved Player! For the first time in his career, Hezonja has some momentum; I think he’ll be the Knicks starting power forward sooner rather than later (Lance Thomas has the spot right now), and he’s got a player-empowering coach behind him, as well as a team that plays to his strengths.
Tyler: Hezonja shows why he got drafted at five and wins Most Improved Player. Getting out of Orlando and into Fizdale’s system does wonders for him, he isn’t even 24 yet. Unfortunately that probably means someone else is going to sign him, or the Knicks will overpay.
Ty: Knox, Robinson, and Allonzo all make All-Rookie first team. That’s as hot take-y as I want to get.
Eli: Allonzo Trier will be the fourth guard in the rotation by February. Kanter will have a big year and be traded for something interesting at the deadline. Mitchell Robinson, despite experts’ projections, will make an impact in the NBA during his rookie year. The Knicks end up with a top-five pick.
THE VERTICALITY OF ZO! pic.twitter.com/UYS8q5F2li
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 9, 2018
Aaron: Kanter makes the ASG? Is that bold and wild? I also don’t think Mudiay ends the season on the roster. Other than that, it’ll be a lot of losing but we’ll look good doing it.
Mike: Allonzo Trier will not play a single minute in Westchester. The way Trier has played in the preseason knocks this take down from hot to lukewarm. He’s been fantastic during the dress rehearsals and may have already played his way into the rotation. Courtney Lee still being around crowds that wing rotation quite a bit but if anyone’s ass should not be in the jackpot, it’s Zo. His energy has been on point as has his production. It’s hard to imagine Fizdale watch what Trier has done and still send him to the G League.
Nick: Mitchell Robinson averages a double-double this season and will at least be in the conversation for ROY. I love this kid’s athleticism and passion he plays with, and I think he will have an immediate impact.
Jared: Enes Kanter is going to be a tour de force, averaging at least 15 and 10. Allonzo Trier will jump into the Rookie of the Year conversation. Mitchell Robinson becomes an irreplaceable element to the team—he will play in at least 60 NBA games. My wildest prediction for the upcoming season: the Knicks will initially struggle after Kristaps Porzingis’ return to the court.
Jack: Frank Ntilikina will be starting by Christmas. Mitchell Robinson will have multiple games with over five blocks and over five fouls. David Fizdale will lead coaches in technicals.
Tim: It’s kind of hard to make a prediction about a season when the Knicks front office has, for the most part, played it uncharacteristically safe. But if there’s one wild prediction, I guess it would have to be Enes Kanter making the Eastern Conference All-Star team. He’s easily the best player on the team sans KP, and his off-season workouts and magnificent preseason has him poised for a big season.
Eugene: A career season for Enes Kanter, we’re talking averaging 20-15—or real close to that. Wild: Frank Ntilikina plays his way into the Most Improved Player conversation. Doesn’t have to win it, but is one of those five to ten players that come to mind. Final: Tim Hardaway Jr. builds off of last season’s production. He averaged a career-high 17.5 points per game last year—he’ll surpass that this season.
Hear from the rest of our staff
Ryan Punzalan, editor-in-chief: “Remember how un-fun the Knicks were last year? Yeah, so these Knicks are the complete opposite of that squad. Kevin Knox, a maturing Frank Ntilkina, and Mitchell Robinson? Fun. That being said… their record is going to be so, so trash. 28-54. Hello, R.J. Barrett.”
Matt Spendley, associate editor: “The Knicks will win 27 games, giving them another lottery pick and another shot at securing an elite talent on the cheap. Knox’s betting odds look tasty for ROY but he’ll struggle too much from the floor to win the award. Porzingis won’t return until March. You want bold? Trey Burke is a benchwarmer come March.”
Kyle Maggio, TKW Podcast co-host: “The Knicks are going to win 25 games this year. It’ll be a fun, scrappy bunch, but they just don’t have the talent on either end of the floor to move the needle for wins. Also, Knox will finish third in Rookie of the Year voting, much to our collective dismay.”
Bailey Carlin, producer: “Kevin Knox rookie of the year. Mudiay released before deadline. Knicks win 37 games.”
Reid Goldsmith, managing editor: “Strangely, I think the Knicks improve by a game by virtue of a talent-cratered Eastern Conference. I’m just greatly looking forward to whether 1) Ntilikina’s defense can almost singularly make him unbenchable, 2) can Knox shake off in-game complacency, and 3) will Mitchell Robinson consistently vault into double-digit minutes, in that order, I suppose. I’ll go with 30-52—I was under by one game for last year’s predictions, and I’m pretty confident I’ll be close again come April 2019.”
Jess Reinhardt, graphic design and web producer: ”The focus of the 2018 season isn’t on 2018 at all. Locking in on coverage of the 2019 free agency market should be priority numero uno. Hoping for some posters via Knox and Mr. Lobinson, I’m going Price is Right rules for 19 wins, Bob.”
John Priest, editorial assistant: “Ron Baker secures a lucrative sponsorship deal with the TGI Fridays in Penn Station. After witnessing a mugging on the 2 train, Frank dutifully alerts an MTA employee. His face is added to those ‘New Yorkers Keeping New York Safe’ ads next to Gregg T. Noah uses his massive contract waiver to purchase Dr. Zizmor’s mansion in the Bronx and turn it into a Center for Magnetic Healing Crystals or whatever.”
Stone Strankman, social media producer: “25-57. Without Kristaps for the majority of the season it will be difficult to find a full identity for the Knicks. I’m assuming that Ntilikina and Knox will develop nicely under Fizdale, but due to youth and lack of Kristaps I don’t think they will win a lot of games.”
Ryan Gray, graphic designer: “27-55. I believe the most exciting point in this season will either be during a random road trip in March when Kristaps finally reveals his first tattoo to be an oversized dragon draped in a Latvian flag on his left arm, or when Mitchell Robinson finishes a respectable third in the dunk contest.”