Yesterday, in an interview with NBA.com, Derrick Rose showed optimism about his new team by saying “With these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams.” If it was 2011, Rose would be correct.
Unfortunately for the former MVP, the year is 2016 and he has yet to rekindle his MVP magic of 2011. Don’t get me wrong: On paper, the Knicks have arguably the second best roster in the Eastern Conference, with star player Carmelo Anthony and Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis leading the way. Trading for Rose gives the team a much needed scoring lift out of the back-court. Signing Joakim Noah in free agency fills the void left at center due to trading Robin Lopez for Rose. In addition, the signing of Courtney Lee fills the void left by Aaron Affalo. Lastly, the signing of Brandon Jennings gives the Knicks a penetrating Point Guard coming off of the bench, a luxury the team has not had since the departure of Jeremy Lin in 2012.
But, with the exception of Lee, all of these acquisitions have had their fair share of injuries over the past five years. Rose’s injury history is well documented. Since his MVP season in 2011, Rose has missed 146 out of a possible 312 games due to various injuries. Noah is coming off of a season that saw him miss 53 games due to a nagging left shoulder. Finally, Jennings has only been able to play in 38 games over the past two seasons due to a 2014 Achilles injury.
In addition to that, the Knicks, from top to bottom, do not have nearly as much talent as the Golden State Warriors. Assuming the starters will be Noah, Porzingis, Anthony, Lee and Rose, the Knicks will have a total of 14 All Star appearances in their starting lineup (9 from Anthony, 3 from Rose, and 2 from Noah). In relation, the starting lineup of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodola, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry also have 14 total All Star appearances. The difference is that each individual in the Warrior starting lineup has played in at least one All Star Game.
The bench of the Warriors is also a tad bit stronger than that of the Knicks. Even though the Warriors lost key bench players Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights this off-season, they were able to sign Center Zaza Pachulia and Forward David West in free agency. They were also able to bring back backup Point Guard and match-up nightmare Shaun Livingston. Combining these players with young talents James Michael Mcadoo, Kevin Looney, and Ian Clark will certainly give the Warriors depth when their starters come out the game. Outside of Brandon Jennings, the Knicks do not have that luxury. They are hoping Justin Holiday, Sasha Vujacic, Lance Thomas, and the rookie Guillemo Hermangomez will step up and become productive bench players.
Even though they are not as “super” as the Warriors, the Knicks still have all the tools necessary to compete in the Eastern Conference this season. Derrick Rose is coming off of a season that saw him play in 66 games, while averaging just over 16 points. Carmelo has been a consistent 20 point scorer his entire career. Joakim Noah is a former Defensive Player of the Year and one of the best centers in the league when healthy. Brandon Jennings is coming back from an Achilles injury but he is still a 16 point career scorer. Plus, Courtney Lee is a hard nose player and Kristaps Porzingis is expecting to improve upon his stellar rookie season. If everyone stays healthy, they should be able to finish in one of the top four seeds in the conference. But if the team fails to stay healthy, this can end being another long season for the Knickerbockers.
Pictures courtesy of Bleacher Report and Basket USA