Knicks could impress or implode this season

Few outcomes to the the New York Knicks’ 2016-17 season should surprise anyone.

Think they’ll win 50 games and make a run at the conference finals? Sounds plausible.

Convinced the team is going to crash and burn, floundering all the way to the draft lottery? That’s a distinct possibility.

The sheer number of variables at play for the Knicks means a win total between 25 and 50 wins. That’s a rarity in the Association, but it’s also reality.

Read on for the factors that will lead to success or failure for the Knicks this season, which begins Tuesday night with a visit to the champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Veteran vitality

Carmelo Anthony remains the franchise player, but he’s got help from two former top-flight talents after Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah came over from the Chicago Bulls during the offseason. If this core had assembled five years ago, it would have rivaled LeBron James’ Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

But that was before each has dealt with his share of injuries. Rose hasn’t been the MVP he was before a knee injury cost him nearly two full seasons. Melo and Noah, both of whom will be 32 by the end of February, have missed 52 and 68 games the last two seasons, respectively.

This is a talented trio if healthy, but that’s as monstrous “if.”

Three 6 Latvia

Don’t call Melo, Rose and Noah the Knicks’ Big Three, though. Not when Kristaps Porzingis is arguably the team’s second-best player.

The Latvian native was a revelation last season, when he was the Rookie of the Year runner-up. The 7-3 stretch forward impressed with his scoring touch, shot blocking and outside shooting.

At 21, Porzingis already is ahead of the curve. However, the Knicks are counting on a big step forward, especially if the veteran leaders miss significant time.

Triangle and error

Knicks president Phil Jackson made the unexpected move of hiring former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek to helm the team.

Hornacek is not a disciple of Jackson’s beloved triangle offense. Although he will be asking his team to run the triangle at times, it won’t be the only set from which the Knicks will look to generate points.

If the strategy works, the Knicks’ offense could be electric. If not, it could be just as messy as the last two seasons have been.


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