New York Knicks Season Review: Part 1 – Grading the Starters

Another sad and hopeless season came to an end Wednesday night for the New York Knicks. This year was more frustrating than others in recent memory because of all the changes that took place in the offseason. Phil Jackson brought in real talent, trading for Derrick Rose and signing Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee. The Knicks’ starters looked strong and could compete with any starting five in the East.

However, games aren’t won on paper. The regular season started off on a good note. On Christmas Day, the Knicks were 16-13 and the outlook was good. But the Boston Celtics beat the Knicks at the Garden that afternoon, and the season then began to unravel. The Knicks would only win 15 more games over the next 53 games, with many losses coming after significant leads, and losing control of the game in the final minutes.

At the close of another 50-loss season, it is time to analyze the starting line’s contributions to the team.

Derrick Rose

Grade: C

Rose has shown flashes this year of the player he once was. The former MVP can still explode to the basket and is strong enough to finish around the rim. However, he never committed to the triangle. And part of this reason is that he doesn’t fit this system. Rose was AWOL most of the season on defense, and he also went AWOL in January, in the midst of the Knicks’ season going downhill.

The Knicks had hoped for a better showing from Rose. It was a low-risk, high-reward move in the offseason. I was high on Knicks bringing back Rose earlier in the season, but the Knicks should not even consider resigning him. They need to move on and find another point guard.

Courtney Lee

Grade: B+

Even though he was the last starter to be added, he might have been the best signing of the offseason. He doesn’t do anything special that wows you. However, he plays both ends of the floor really well. He can defend opposing perimeter players, and he shot a high percentage from downtown.

There were times when it was puzzling as to why he didn’t get the ball more. He can take you off the dribble, run the curl play, and float one in for an easy basket. The Knicks need to incorporate him more next season.

Carmelo Anthony

Grade: B-

Carmelo Anthony did not have his best season. At this point in his career, he is slowing down. And based on his play alone, his grade might’ve been lower. But he gets a higher grade for dealing with all the off-the-court nonsense.

With Jackson sitting in his cozy office and sending out cryptic tweets, Anthony had every right to blow up and respond back. However, he showed a lot of class by not engaging in the off-the-court distractions. He let those distractions be and played when he was out there. He tried to win every game he possible can, but his performance was not consistent night-in and night-out. And some might even question his effort; however, you cannot question the way he avoided external distractions and kept himself focused on basketball.

Whether he remains a Knick or not will be determined this offseason. But if Wednesday was his last game as a Knick, it has been a good run for a franchise that had craved a star since Patrick Ewing left. Thank you Anthony for wanting to play in New York.

Kristaps Porzingis

Grade: C+

Porzingis is our future star. He is every Knicks’ fan hope for a brighter future. However, it felt like Porzingis did not take a step forward this season. Part of it was the pieces around him. With Rose and Anthony demanding the ball so much, it kept Porzingis out of the offense for long periods of time. There were times in the season where Porzingis would not touch the ball in the fourth quarter.

He also had his fair share of injuries, causing him to miss some games. However, he just did not step up and play better than last year. His defense is suspect at times, he settled for too many jumpers, and his body is still too lean when going up against bigger forwards. He is our future star, but next year, he needs to progress upwards.

Joakim Noah

Grade: F

From the outrageous contract to his play, or non-existence on the court, this has been a disastrous move for the Knicks. As a matter of fact, this might have been Jackson’s worst move since he became the Knicks’ President. He gave a four-year deal to a guy that has been injury-plagued over the last few years and on the decline.

This trend continued in his first season with the Knicks, and it started early. Noah ended up playing in only 46 games this year. His play was average at best when he was healthy on the court. He received a 20-game suspension for using a performance enhancer. And he’ll now require rotator cuff surgery. Does he came with a return policy? It is only year one of his deal, and it has already been a major fail.

Overall, this starting unit underperformed and unraveled throughout the 2017 season. The Knicks did not live up to the offseason hype. This team should’ve easily been a top eight team in the Eastern Conference. But with their deficiencies on defense, inability to learn an offensive system being forced upon them, and unable to stay healthy all year, the Knicks can chalk up 2017 to another lost season.


Main Photo

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, during the New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Basketball game at Madison Square Garden, New York. USA. 15th March 2014. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)