By HAYES RULE (@Rule0021)
Photo credit goes to the NY Daily News.
So, how ‘bout those Knicks?
After a chaotic NBA free agency in which Mike Conley received $153 million and Kevin Durant joined forces with the enemy Warriors, it’s the team from New York who dominated headlines Friday.
In a recent interview with NBA.com, newly-acquired point guard Derrick Rose said some individuals have called the Knicks one of two “super teams” -- along with the Warriors -- in the Association.
"With these teams right now, they're saying us and Golden State are the super teams, and they're trying not to build that many super teams, and [commissioner] Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that," Rose said per a recent ESPN article.
"And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win. Talking to [Carmelo Anthony] and all the guys who've been around. You've got Brandon [Jennings] who just signed for one year, he's got to show why he's there. I've got to show why I'm there. Joakim [Noah] has to show why he's there. Everybody's trying to prove themselves."
Understand one thing: Derrick Rose is not being quoted as saying, “We’re one of two super teams in the NBA.” He said other people are saying the Knicks are a super team. So where are these people, and what are they smoking?
Maybe Spike Lee has been in Rose’s ear a little too much?
It’s nearly inarguable that the Warriors are the super team of the NBA, possibly the greatest compilation of talent on a single roster -- ever. But the Knicks -- a team coming off a 32-50 record in 2015-16 -- have only added Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Brandon Jennings to a roster with little talent or depth.
Breaking down the top talent on both the Warriors and Knicks’ rosters, the comparison becomes even more asinine.
Golden State Warriors:
2015-16 stat line: 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 50 percent FG
According to every voter, Steph Curry was the most valuable player in the league last season. While he was not quite his usual amazing self in the postseason -- 25.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 44 percent FG -- the baby-faced assassin is arguably the most dynamic player in the NBA and is the main cog in the Warriors’ 3-point shooting factory.
2015-16 stat line: 28.2 points, 8.2 assists, 5.0 assists, 51 percent FG
My face when Kevin Durant decided to sign with the Warriors:
While being forced to share the same basketball with Russell Westbrook -- who had the highest usage rate in the league last season -- Durant still averaged the third-most points in the NBA. His length and shooting range will fit in perfectly in Golden State, who now boasts three of the best shooters of all time on one roster.
The Warriors have simply done a better job of acquiring shooting in a 3-point-heavy league than anyone else. Durant augments their 3-point shooting in a major way and is easily a top-five player in the world. Don’t overlook that: Golden State has two of the best five players in the WORLD.
2015-16 stat line: 22.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 47 percent FG
Steph Curry and Kevin Durant will be the oft-praised players for the Warriors, but don’t forget about the man who scored 41 points on the road in an elimination game against the Thunder. In that Game 6 victory in the Western Conference Finals, Klay Thompson broke the NBA’s record for most 3-pointers made in a playoff game.
Thompson has taken the 3-and-D concept to another level. He’s quite possibly the best shooter in the game -- use the 3-point contest victory as evidence -- and is underrated on the defensive end. Don’t shake your head when I write that Thompson is a top-20 player in the league. That may even be undervaluing him.
2015-16 stat line: 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 49 percent FG
Draymond Green is the extra “kicker” in this argument. As if the offensive triumvirate of Curry, Durant and Thompson were not enough, Green adds a nifty 14 points per game. But more importantly, he averages nearly a triple-double because of his entire impact on a game.
There’s a certain intangible flair Green offers the Warriors. Whether opposing players just keep their hands low for protective reasons, I do not know. But what I do know is this: Green is one of the most valuable players in the league, maybe even top-10 most valuable?
New York Knicks:
2015-16 stat line: 21.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 43 percent FG
Carmelo Anthony took a noticeable decline in 2015-16, averaging his least amount of points in a season since 2004-05. Granted, his 4.2 assists figure was a career high, but his shooting percentage also dipped to the fourth-worst of his career.
Anthony has only made it out of the first round of the playoffs twice in his career; his ability to lead a team to a championship has never been in greater question, as the former Nugget will be entering the 15th year of his career. He’s the best player on this Knicks team, and I wouldn’t even consider taking him over any of the Warriors’ top four.
2015-16 stat line: 16.4 points, 4.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 43 percent FG
I have major respect for Derrick Rose. The emotional rollercoaster -- through the prior success and myriad of injuries -- Rose has experienced during his career is a heart-wrenching story. The image of his emotion during the Adidas 3 shoe launch has continually stuck with me:
But he’s simply not the same Derrick Rose. Over the last four seasons, the former MVP has missed 162 games. Yes, he played in 66 games in 2015-16, but the potential risk for another injury looms at all times. And it’s sad.
You don’t know what you’re getting with Derrick Rose. He could be a slightly above average starting point guard or not play at all. If there is that level of uncertainty with one of New York’s main stars, it’s incredibly difficult to call the Knicks even a good team.
2015-16 stat line: 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 42 percent FG
Kristaps Porzingis shocked nearly everyone by how well he played as a rookie, but to expect him to become a superstar by next season is unfair. The talent and upside is there for the Latvian to be a star for New York in the future, but his inconsistencies -- give him a break; he’s only 20 years old – are just too great at this point in his career.
Expect Porzingis to be solid and take a step forward in year two, but when comparing him to the likes of the Warriors’ super team, I can’t help but just “Boo!” louder than Knicks fans when New York drafted Porzingis.
2015-16 stat line: 4.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 38 percent FG
Few players have taken a steeper decline over the last two years than Joakim Noah. Once one of the most complete big men in the game, Noah dealt with injuries nearly all of last year. In Chicago, he played in 29 games and started only two.
Much like Rose, Noah’s impact will be largely determined by his health. But here’s the problem: Also like Rose, Noah at full health isn’t the same Joakim Noah he was in the past. Phil Jackson must have thought it was still 2010.
2015-16 stat line: 7.0 points, 4.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 37 percent FG
While Brandon Jennings has always been more of a scoring point guard, I found him to be incredibly underrated at the start of his career in Milwaukee. He averaged anywhere from 15.4-19.1 points per game over the first six years of his career.
But he has fallen hard in the last two years. His scoring numbers have been more than cut in half, as he has appeared in only 48 games over the course of the last two seasons. As harsh as it sounds, this GIF basically epitomizes his game at this point:
Let’s get down to brass tacks
The Warriors have the four best players in this conversation, and I’m not sure I could find anyone who would argue that – other than, maybe, Spike Lee. The Warriors just completed the best regular season of all time after finishing 73-9 and were nearly guaranteed another Finals victory until Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5.
Adding Kevin Durant to the picture only widens the gap between them and the rest of the NBA – including the Knicks. Has New York improved? Sure.
But is New York a super team? Steve Harvey has your answer.