41 wins and 41 losses. This is the record the Knicks are on pace to finish with this season. That would be the most wins they’ve had since the 2012-13 when they finished with 54 wins. Since then, they haven’t won more than 37 games.
The former Knick, Carmelo Anthony, has taken a lot of the blame for the Knicks losing seasons. In my opinion, Melo is the kind of player who should be a secondary star, not the main attraction. He’s never been able to lead a team to much success, mostly because of his style of play. Even though Melo wasn’t leading his team to success, he was the best option his team had, but then a unicorn appeared.
In 2015, the New York Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis. Many thought picking Porzingis was going to be a wasted pick, but during his rookie season he showed us all flashes of what he could be. His stats as a rookie were pretty good, but he still wasn’t quite good enough to challenge Carmelo as the go to guy.
In 2016, Porzingis showed us a little bit more. He increased his shots per game by 2.6, which led to an increase of just under 4 points per game. He did this while improving his field goal percentage from 42.1% to 45.0%. Even with Carmelo Anthony still doing his usual thing, Porzingis found a way to get himself more involved.
During the offseason, the Knicks finally had the opportunity to trade Carmelo Anthony, and they jumped at the chance to do so. This trade left Porzingis as the lone star in New York, but the Knicks believed in their unicorn.
Kristaps Porzingis has taken over the role of being the star player for the Knicks, and it’s paying off. Porzingis is relied upon to do more, but he seems to be handling the responsibility just fine. His shots have increased from 14.9 to 22.0 per game. His increase in touches have led to his scoring average going from 18.1 to 29.0. Of course when your shots go up, your scoring average goes up too.
What’s impressive about Porzingis, is that not only have his shots and scoring gone up, but his field goal percentage has gone up also. Porzingis has increased his field goal percentage from 45.0% to 48.3% this season. Not only is he showing that he can be the star the Knicks need, but he’s showing that he can do it while taking more effective shots.
Let’s go back to Melo quickly. In all of his full seasons in New York, Melo shot over 45% once. He took questionable shots, shooting whenever he felt like it. Defender, no defender, it didn’t matter. What the Knicks have needed for a while now is a star who can take effective shots and hit them at a high rate. That’s exactly what they’re getting with Porzingis. When your best player shoots at high rate, you’re going to have chances to win games.
Kristaps Porzingis is still only 22 years old, giving him plenty of time to improve his abilities. At 22, he’s the star, and he will be for a long time. He’s going to get better. As he improves, the Knicks will improve. It’s only been 8 games for the Knicks this year, but I can already tell the departure of Melo is going to pay off for this team. The unicorn in New York will rise, and as he rises, rises the Knicks along side him.