Great win last night to beat the division rival Celtics and it’s official, I love this Knicks team. They play with energy, they play with effort, and they seem to actually like playing with each other which is a far cry from last years dumpster fire. Already surpassing last years 18 wins and being 20-20 at the 40 game mark is something NOBODY was predicting for this team. When they took Porzingis at #4 on draft night everybody and their mother, myself included, was calling for Phil’s head and assuming this would be another Knicks disaster. What has Alabaster Ewing done since then? Just averaged 14/8/2 with shooting splits of 43/34/86 en route to back to back Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month Awards in November and December. Not to mention the many posters he’s created along the way. The kid has truly been a revelation to this point and immediately silenced all those who doubted him before the season began. If he continues at this pace he has a real shot of being the first Knick to win Rookie of the Year since Mark Jackson in ’87-’88.
This Knicks resurgence hasn’t been a one man show though. Guys like Aaron Afflalo and RoLo, Robin Lopez, have chipped in throughout and at times put the team on their backs for a night. But the guy who deserves a ton of credit is none other than Carmelo Anthony. Our $124 million dollar man has bought into what Phil Jackson is selling and really changed his game. At 22/8/4 Melo is having one of the most balanced seasons of his career. While his PPG has gone down his overall game and the level at which he plays within the team concept has never been higher. He started slow as he worked himself back from the knee surgery that ended his season last year but I expect a big second half surge Melo.
Realistically are the Knicks title contenders right now? No, obviously not. But they certainly can make the playoffs and could be anywhere from the #5 to #8 seed in the log jammed middle of the East. With no 1st rd. pick in this years draft there’s no reason for them not to try and win as many games as possible and really grow together as a unit. The way they have played so far this year plus getting in some playoff basketball will go a long way toward luring some additional free agent help this offseason. But for now Knick fans can be happy that there is watchable basketball at the Garden again and for once the future actually seems bright.