The East has lost All-Stars LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, and most likely Kristaps Porzingis, too. Let’s look at three possible Knickerbockers who could step up and earn a spot on the All-Star Team in 2019.
With the upcoming Knicks season looking like another step in the rebuilding process, fans are looking forward to watching the further development of their young talent. However, without the presence of Kristaps Porzingis until at least December (possibly the entire season), the opportunity for extended minutes and expanded roles are up for grabs. With a weak Eastern Conference, a few current Knicks may garner All-Star consideration.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is just offseason speculation, but the events surrounding the Knicks have opened the door for a few of their players to take the next step in their careers.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway Jr. made a significant jump last year and showed that he is capable of being a key offensive option on an NBA team. He averaged a career-high 17.5 points per game in 57 total games played. Hardaway struggled with his shot early in the season and battled injuries that also led to inconsistent play upon his return. However, he still managed to average the second-most points for the Knickerbockers on the season. With Porzingis out for an extended period of time, THJ looks to be the top scoring option for the Knicks. Therefore, he has a real chance to average more than 20 points per game heading into the All-Star break. In a weak Eastern Conference, this type of scoring output would give Timmy a great chance at being an All-Star for the first time in his career. It’s vital that he gets off to a strong start this season, as the Knicks are depending on him to step up and play as a top offensive weapon. If he stays healthy and takes advantage of his expanded offensive role, Hardaway has a legit shot at being an All-Star this upcoming season.
Kanter is an intriguing player. From a statistics standpoint, he averaged a double-double (14.1 points and 11 rebounds per game) last year, which earned him some All-Star consideration. What ultimately held him back? His defensive play. Kanter is a liability on defense for the Knicks, which was to be expected when they acquired him last season from OKC. The Knicks were pleased with his offensive performance and rebounding but need to see him contribute more on the defensive side of the ball. With Kristaps out, expect Enes to have an expanded role and yet again average a double-double. In a porous Eastern Conference, if he can slightly improve his defensive ability to the point where it is passable, he has the highest chance amongst all Knicks to be selected to the All-Star game.
This is more of a wild card pick as opposed to THJ and Enes Kanter. It’s hard to believe that a player who started his season with the Westchester Knicks of the G League last year could be an All-Star in the NBA the following season. But let’s keep in mind, Burke is a former top-10 pick with all the offensive talent in the world. Drawing comparisons to Allen Iverson due to his hair, Burke jumped onto the scene last year for the Knicks upon being promoted to the Big Apple. In just 36 games and nine starts, he averaged 12.8 points and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. However, he averaged 21.1 points and 7.8 assists per 36 minutes last season. His best game of the season came against the Charlotte Hornets, in which he posted 42 points and 12 assists. He is presumably in the lead to be the starting point guard to open the season, and could flourish in this expanded role. With Kristaps Porzingis out, Burke will be one of the top scoring options for the Knicks alongside THJ. If he can continue his momentum from last year and play up to his per 36 minutes numbers, there is no doubt that Burke has a chance of being an All-Star in one of the weakest Eastern Conferences in recent memory.