The New York Knicks Are No Super Team, But They’re Getting Better

Nov 20, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) gestures after a three point basket during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks won 104-94. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 20, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) gestures after a three point basket during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks won 104-94. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are playing much better as of late, and a big part of that is Kristaps Porzingis and the coming together of a brand new team

The New York Knicks are far from a super team. Despite Derrick Rose‘s claims, this team is not as elite as the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

In his defense, however, the Knicks are starting to look pretty tough. Not super team tough, but enough where they should start garnering some attention.

Even though they’re still below .500 (6-7), the Knicks still appear to be finding the chemistry they were expected to have from the get-go. New York has won three of its last four games and are beginning to realize that the key to their success could be tied to Kristaps Porzingis, who is averaging 23 points per game in his last nine outings.

If the Knicks figure it out, it will be in large part because of Porzingis’ expanded role in the offense.

Unicorn sighting

As we touched on, quite possibly the most important figure to thank for their recent performance is Kristaps Porzingis.

In 32.4 minutes per game, Porzingis is averaging 20.2 points and his shooting percentage has climbed to 49.5 percent. He’s registered only two double-doubles this season, which is okay given the circumstances.

It would come as no surprise if he keeps up the performance and ends up being the first player since Amar’e Stoudemire – and almost J.R. Smith – to score 20 points per game alongside Carmelo Anthony.

The New York Knicks are clearly handing the reins over to Porzingis, despite the starting five being stuffed to the brim with scoring potential. Anthony now has the assets around him to provide an offensive nightmare for most teams.

Oct 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) celebrates with forward Carmelo Anthony (7) after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 130-103. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Veterans vibing

Speaking of Anthony, he’s been a high point in the Knicks’ mediocre start. His defense remains a bit spotty, but the offensive contributions he provides are more than effective on this roster. He’s averaging 22.9 points per game in 33.1 minutes on 47.4 percent shooting.

Joakim Noah hasn’t made a significant amount of noise from an offensive standpoint; he’s averaing 4.3 points per game. His presence is still helpful for New York. Following a few reports of criticism, Noah filled the stat sheet against the Detroit Pistons. With seven points, three assists, 15 rebounds, three blocks and one steal, Noah helped the Knicks beat the Pistons, albeit, by three points. He’s securing 8.9 rebounds per game while contributing 3.5 assists per game, and it’s helped the Knicks keep the ball on the move.

Rose took a little time to get acclimated to his new team, but after his breakout performance against the Wizards, it looks like he might be taking a step in the direction of his MVP season when it comes to his numbers. There have been times where he seems to get caught mid-air and throw the ball away, but his slowly rising assist numbers show he’s at least getting the ball where it needs to be in the offense.

Courtney Lee has been providing what everyone thought he would: 9.2 points per game and a few rebounds to go along with 42.6 percent shooting overall and 42.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. His performance through the first 13 games of the season equates to his career averages, so there’s no guarantee he exceeds his value.

However, a consistent nine points and defensive awareness makes Lee an integral element to the Knicks’ roster.

Nov 20, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Justin Holiday (8) reacts after scoring a three point basket during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks won 104-94. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Some surprises

Coming into the season, the Chicago Bulls trading away Derrick Rose and Justin Holiday for Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant looked a bit weird. Holiday has a championship to his name, but he hardly contributed to that Golden State Warriors team.

Now, he’s coming off the bench for the Knicks and is showing legitimate Sixth Man of the Year potential. He’s quick, lanky and alert at both ends of the floor. He had one 16 point performance that piqued the interest of Knicks fans, but he hasn’t done much along those lines since.

Regardless, Holiday is proving himself little by little and could be a huge steal in the long run.

Meanwhile, Willie Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn are giving it all they’ve got to keep the second unit from falling apart, night in and night out.

All in all, the Knicks’ bench squad is looking a lot nicer as the games go by, something they’ll need further down the line.

Though the New York Knicks appear to be coming together, one must wonder how long it takes before the group becomes cohesive enough to not play catch-up basketball.

The trade deadline is months away, and Phil Jackson has assets to move, now. But with Porzingis and Anthony performing the way they are, perhaps there isn’t much to fear for the future of this organization.

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