If you looked closely, it was always smoke and mirrors. As of Dec. 11, the New York Knicks were 14-10 and sitting in a rosy position when it came to the Eastern Conference Playoff picture. As you might expect, this type of success from one of the league’s most visible franchises arrived with some level of acclaim, including the notion that the Knicks were “back.” The presence of a budding young star in Kristaps Porzingis and a veteran stalwart in Carmelo Anthony helped to provide that optimism, while even the play of Derrick Rose provided some superficial background for belief.
Fast-forward, though, to early 2017 and the Knicks are what the Knicks were supposed to be in the eyes of many. New York has dropped five straight games and, since that 14-10 start, Jeff Hornacek’s team is just 2-8. While some fans bought in with both feet to New York’s apparent renaissance, a closer look at the numbers would indicate that, well, regression was in the offing.
Through that 14-10 start, the Knicks were actually outscored by 2.8 points per 100 possessions. While that might not seem glaring, New York’s net rating was good for only 20th in the NBA and that trailed several mediocre teams, headlined by the Sacramento Kings. Now, that ranking has dropped to 23rd in the NBA (-3.7 points per 100) and much of that can be traced to lackluster defense. So much so, in fact, that Hornacek openly questioned whether his team was “capable” of playing quality basketball at that end of the floor.
In the interest of full disclosure, New York has never been treated as a full-fledged playoff team in this space and that remains the case today. How far have the Knicks fallen? Well, our rankings are here, and you can find out shortly. Let’s roll.