NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
With the NBA season just a few months away and the majority of player movement being done, I’m going to start previewing the teams. Based on my projected order of the standings, we’ll start at the bottom and work towards the top rotating between East and West. Past previews will be linked as well.
Mario Hezonja Wing (free agency), Kevin Knox SG (draft), Mitchell Robinson C (draft), Noah Vonleh PF (free agency)
Michael Beasley F, Kyle O'Quinn C
Offensive Rating 104.1 (24th)
Defensive Rating 108.4 (23rd)
Net Rating -4.3 (24th)
True Shooting Percentage 54.3% (25th)
Assist Percentage 57.3% (21st)
Rebound Percentage 50.5% (12th)
Turnover Percentage 14.7% (21st)
Pace 99.24 (15th)
After a relatively quiet offseason, the New York Knicks return largely the same roster but with a different coach in David Fizdale. The major question mark going into the season is the health of franchise centerpiece Kristaps Porzingis, returning from a torn ACL. Ninth overall pick Kevin Knox should add to a promising young core, and hopefully entice at least one max free agent next summer. It will probably be a rough season in New York, but with the Phil Jackson era over and cap space finally coming, there might just be a light at the end of the tunnel.
With over 30 million in projected cap space next summer and rumors swirling with some big name free agents (Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kevin Durant), the Knicks should look to get off as much money as they possible can. The four veterans under contract in 2019-2020 are Joakim Noah (untradable), Courtney Lee (12.7 million owed), Lance Thomas (7.6 million), and Tim Hardaway Jr (37 million over two years). If they can move Lee and Thomas, two max free agents becomes a real possibility.
From everything we've seen from Porzingis he is a competitor and do everything he can do get back on the court as soon as possible. The Knicks need to take it slow, and understand that's he's not going to be the same player right away. Porzingis has played 48, 66, and 72 games the past three seasons and the only thing stopping him from reaching superstar status is injuries. Unicorns are rare and the Knicks have one, they simply can't mess this up.
Figure out the Offense
Without Porzingis to start the season expect the Knicks to struggle offensively. Rotation holdovers Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter are decent offensive players, but there isn't much else. Michael Beasley and Kyle O'Quinn had their deficiencies, but both could score. Trey Burke showed some promise at the end of the season, but a lot will be expected from rookie Kevin Knox to help fill the scoring void. With no fake triangle offense it should at least be more enjoyable to watch.
Player to Watch: Frank Ntilikina
The eighth overall pick in 2017, Ntilikina is already one of the better defensive point guards in the NBA, and has serious potential to be a lock down defender. Offensively it was a struggle to say the least. Ntilikina finished the season shooting just 36.4% from the field, and 31.8% from three. He did show some improvement as the season went on, and in five April games he shot 40.8% on 10.8 attempts per game. If Ntilikina can become respectable offensively, he has a real chance to be a special player.
PG: Frank Ntilikina
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.
SF: Courtney Lee
PF: Mario Hezonja
C: Enes Kanter
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Emmanuel Mudiay
SF: Lance Thomas
PF: Noah Vonleh
C: Mitchell Robinson
Westgate Projected Win Total: 29.5
Projected Record: 30-52 (12th Eastern Conference)