By most measures, Derrick Rose was one of the worst players at his position last season. Rose's -4.27 real plus-minus ranked 74th of 77 qualifying point guards (meaning that his play cost the Bulls 4.27 points per 100 possessions last year). He was especially bad at the defensive end, which is troubling for the Knicks, whose anchor—an aging, oft-injured Joakim Noah—will need all the help he can get.
Offensively, Rose was a detriment too, but he had an uptick in efficiency in the second half as he recovered from vision problems. If that emboldens him to gun more, New York—which will also put Carmelo Anthony in a fair number of isos—could be looking at a lot of empty possessions this season. All of which raises the question: Will Kristaps Porzingis get the ball enough?
The 7'3" forward from Latvia was a revelation last season, stretching the floor, dunking, blocking shots and offering a real ray of hope at Madison Square Garden. But the Knicks are holding on to playoff pipe dreams instead of committing to a rebuild. How do Rose and Noah (and an aging Melo) help Porzingis? They don't. At least Rose's contract lasts only one more season; Noah is locked in for four years and $72 million.
PROJECTED LINEUP | 2015--16 stats
COACH JEFF HORNACEK (1st season with Knicks)
2015--16 RECORD 32--50 (3rd in Atlantic)
PG DERRICK ROSE*
16.4 PPG; 4.7 APG; 42.7 FG%; 29.3 3FG%
SG COURTNEY LEE*
9.6 PPG; 2.6 RPG; 45.4 FG%; 37.8 3FG%
SF CARMELO ANTHONY
21.8 PPG; 7.7 RPG; 43.4 FG%; 33.9 3FG%
PF KRISTAPS PORZINGIS
14.3 PPG; 7.3 RPG; 42.1 FG%; 33.3 3FG%
C JOAKIM NOAH*
4.3 PPG; 8.8 RPG; 3.8 APG; 38.3 FG%
PG BRANDON JENNINGS*
6.9 PPG; 3.5 APG; 36.8 FG%; 32.9 3FG%
SF LANCE THOMAS
8.2 PPG; 2.2 RPG; 44.2 FG%; 40.4 3FG%
C KYLE O'QUINN
4.8 PPG; 3.8 RPG; 0.8 BPG; 47.6 FG%
TELLING NUMBER -4.27
A rival scout sizes up New York
If they stay healthy, they could win 48 or 50 games. That's a big if.Carmelo Anthony has had knee issues. Joakim Noah has had injuries in the last couple of years. And with Derrick Rose, there's always the possibility he'll go down too.... Everyone talks about Noah and Rose, but Courtney Lee was a big pickup. He's a lockdown defender and a better three-point shooter than people think.... [New coach] Jeff Hornacek was a good choice. New York isn't an easy place to go. You're strapped with what Phil Jackson wants to do. But Hornacek is his own person. He'll play some triangle, but he'll also do other things—spreading the floor, pick-and-roll, trying to create more possessions. It's hard to win when you have only 80 or 90 possessions. The triangle is just too methodical ... Kristaps Porzingis will eventually be one of the best players in the league. He can stretch the defense on pick-and-pops, which is hard to guard when you have a guy that's 7'3" and can shoot like he can shoot.... Rose is still as quick as John Wall, he can make everyone around him better and he's not a bad perimeter shooter, but he needs to change the way he plays. He tries to challenge bigs, and as a result he gets knocked down and hurt. He needs to play a little smarter ... Melo can flat-out score. He'll take bad shots sometimes, but he can defend when he wants to, and he can rebound. He's got help now. His priority should be winning—not scoring titles.... You might be able to squeeze out a decent eight-man rotation, but if guys get injured and others have to step up, then they really start to drop off.
This could have been the best team in the NBA—in 2010--11.