During his breakout second season, Kristaps Porzingis's usage rate was 24.3—which was actually lower than the rate from his rookie season. How to explain the decline? Try sharing the court with Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, each of whom had a rate of more than 25. Now that Melo and Rose are gone, Porzingis's rate should rise to the low 30s—but only if the Knicks are finally committed to making the 7-footer the face of the franchise.
There's no doubt Anthony was holding back Porzingis, in part by taking most of the important late-game opportunities for himself. Porzingis should not only have the offense run through him this season, but he should also be given the chance to prove his clutch bona fides.
New York also parted ways with president Phil Jackson. But the first significant move the team made after he left, signing Tim Hardaway Jr.—whom Jackson had traded away two years earlier—to a four-year, $71 million contract is a risky one. And the rest of the roster remains loaded with iffy veterans. If the 22-year-old Porzingis is going to succeed in his new role, the Knicks need to get him the right supporting cast, quickly.
COACH JEFF HORNACEK
(2nd season with Knicks)
2016--17 RECORD 31--51
(3rd in Atlantic)
PG RAMON SESSIONS [NEW ACQUISITION]
6.2 PPG; 1.5 RPG; 2.6 APG; 38.0 3FG%
SG TIM HARDAWAY JR. [NEW ACQUISITION]
14.5 PPG; 2.3 APG; 45.5 FG%; 35.7 3FG%
SF DOUG MCDERMOTT [NEW ACQUISITION]
9.0 PPG; 2.7 RPG; 44.7 FG%; 37.0 3FG%
33 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PF KRISTAPS PORZINGIS
18.1 PPG; 7.2 RPG; 45.0 FG%; 35.7 3FG%
C WILLY HERNANGOMEZ
8.2 PPG; 7.0 RPG; 1.3 APG; 52.9 FG%
C ENES KANTER [NEW ACQUISITION]
14.3 PPG; 6.7 RPG; 0.5 BPG; 54.5 FG%
PG FRANK NTILIKINA [ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS]
5.2 PPG; 1.4 APG; 48.5 FG%; 43.1 3FG%
SG COURTNEY LEE
10.8 PPG; 3.4 RPG; 2.3 APG; 45.6 FG%
• THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING
(R) ROOKIE, EUROPEAN STATS
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP NEW YORK
They definitely have the right leadership in place. They have veteran front office personnel, people who have experience winning and experience in their positions. So I would contend that the future is bright for them.... FRANK NTILIKINA is better than people think, and it's too bad he's getting put in this bucket of "Phil [Jackson] took him for the triangle, and now he's gone." That's the most lazy, stupid comment of all time, because that kid is big [6'5"], he's skilled and he likes to play defense. He wasn't playing at a superhigh level in the French league, but the team went to the finals and he contributed to that. It was the right pick, because it was a swing for the fences based on talent, and he's got a lot of it.... WILLY HERNANGOMEZ is another solid young piece. I don't think people understand how good he can be either. He's not playing just because he's big.... RON BAKER is a nice, solid player, but if he was on a very good team he'd probably be the fifth guard.... COURTNEY LEE is still valuable but not on a team that's building. He needs to go to a playoff team to be maximized, like he was in Charlotte.... I don't know what the motivation was behind signing MICHAEL BEASLEY.... Is TIM HARDAWAY JR. really that bad? He's gonna get smashed because he got signed to that contract this summer, but what, is he supposed to say no? Wings are really, really valuable and there's not a lot of them. The guy made 149 threes last year, he's durable, he's tough and he plays defense. It's not an untradable contract.
TELLING 24.3 STATISTIC
Earning a postseason berth is unrealistic, but the point of this season is to turn Porzingis into a franchise player.