We all know that the NBA season can be full of surprises. Games are played for a reason — you never what is going to happen. Granted the same two teams have faced off in the NBA championship for the last three consecutive years, but that could easily change this year. The Eastern Conference continues to dominate as they have done all season. The Boston Celtics, continuing to win games over and over, remain at the top of the conference.
A team that I’m sure has taken everybody by surprise so far is the New York Knicks. This team currently holds a record of 7-6, and are currently in 6th place in the Eastern Conference, lying three spots ahead of the normally competitive Cleveland Cavaliers. Although tied with both the 76ers and the Bucks in record and winning percentage, it is unlike the Knicks to be as competitive as they have been so far this year. Last year, the Knicks completed their season with a record of 31-51, finishing in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have only won two NBA championships dating back to 1970 and 1973. They have had multiple seasons in the playoffs, but have not been able to deliver all the way through. The Knicks had their worst ever record of 65 losses in the 2014-2015 season.
Although there is still a lot of time left in the NBA season, the Knicks have started their season off on a positive note. Much of this is thanks to power forward Kristaps Porzingis. Many fans knew he would be good, but few could have predicted that he would be dominating the way that he is. Porzingis has averaged 30 points per game so far this season, including shooting 84 percent from the foul line. He’s scored more points in his first 10 games than any other Knick player including greats like Bernard King, Patrick Ewing, and Carmelo Anthony early in their careers. If Porzingis can keep up these numbers for the rest of this season, he is on track to join Stephen Curry as the only player in NBA history to average more than 30-plus points on 50-40-90 club numbers. He has also contributed positively on the defensive end of the court. I have no doubt that Porzingis can help lead his team to a potential playoff run if he keeps up these numbers. As long as his team continues to get him the ball, then they are heading in the right direction.
The elimination of Carmelo Anthony also seems to have helped this Knicks team this season. When Melo was traded to the Thunder for the acquisition of Enes Kanter, the change on the offensive end has been extreme. When Anthony was in the game, the Knicks used to try to run plays that would involve passing the ball around, but once Melo got ahold of it, he took complete control. Although he was a three-time Olympic gold medalist and former scoring champion, Anthony’s contribution did not always work in New York’s favor, as he failed to get his teammates involved in plays. With Kanter now in the game for the Knicks, the ball moves around more offensively, and players are taking more time to look around for the best possible shot before making a move. With the combination of Kanter and Porzingis on offense, the Knicks have put up some competitive offensive numbers.
With the way this team is performing right now, I could see them easily competing for a playoff run when it comes to that time. Offensively, they have made significant changes to their execution which have worked in their favor. Defensively, they have talented players who have put up statistics that compete with the best of the best. Porzingis averages 2.3 blocks per game, which is third in the NBA behind Rudy Gobert and Kevin Durant. The Knicks are also a young team, so their potential for success in future seasons is looking very positive. As I mentioned before, there is still a lot of time left in the season, but this team is definitely one to keep an eye on.