Fresh off a 31-51 season in 2016-17, a 32-50 season before that and a franchise-worst 17-65 mark in 2014-15, the New York Knicks did not make any significant improvements to their roster this offseason. They drafted 18-year-old point guard Frank Ntilikina and signed a couple of veteran role players. Among those veterans is small forward Michael Beasley, who’s fresh off a playoff appearance with the Bucks and believes he’ll return to the postseason in 2018 with the Knicks.
Beasley spoke to ESPN’s Ian Begley on Tuesday, and does not appear to have a good grip on reality:
“If Tim Hardaway Jr., Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and myself (are on the same roster) — those are four guys that can score 25 points per game. Then you add in Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah (whom Beasley said looks great and has ’25 abs’), let’s not forget about that All-Star. It’s up to us to put it together just like it was up to them last year. Whatever happened last year is what happened. But I’m here now and I’m going to do everything I can to get everyone on the same page — even if that page is beating me up every day in practice. Whatever I have to do to get us to come together on the floor is what I’m going to do. Do I see us better than a 30-win team in Vegas (one Las Vegas sports book has the Knicks’ over/under at 30.5)? Listen, I don’t even go to Vegas. So, yeah I do. I think we’ve got a position to be not only a playoff team but a five, six-seed team if we do it right.”
Confidence is important, but delusion can be dangerous. Let’s take a look at just how crazy Beasley’s analysis of the Knicks is.
The Cavs, Celtics, Wizards, Raptors and Bucks are no-brainers to finish ahead of the Knicks. That’s five teams right there. The Heat, Hornets and 76ers should all be significantly improved while the Pistons should be about the same. Barring some big surprises, there’s your nine-team race for the East’s eight playoff bids, and the Knicks are not a part of it. So it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Can the Knicks beat their 30.5 over/under? Sure, if everything goes right. If Melo performs nowhere near as poorly as ESPN expects, Porzingis continues his development into an All-Star after a dramatic offseason, Noah stays healthy after his suspension, and Hardaway lives up to his $71 million contract, then sure — this team can win 35 games. But they’d need some luck as well — like the 76ers catching the injury bug again — to even sniff the playoffs.
Credit to Beasley for talking up his new teammates, but the Knicks sure seem to be at least another year away from playing postseason basketball.