With the Chicago, I mean New York Knicks due to start 16 NBA season optimism is as high as it has been since the late nineties for the Knicks. Adding Chicago stalwarts like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have bolstered the Knicks roster into a top contender in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Also, don’t neglect the fact the Knicks added Brandon Jennings, among others, which gives the Knicks depth to contend with the best teams like the defending Eastern Conference and NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Like no other team in the NBA, thus far, the Knicks roster is full of players with a proverbial chip on their shoulder. Besides Joakim and Rose, Carmelo Anthony is arguably the best player in the NBA who has not been in the Playoff mix in the past few years. Carmelo is showing his worth in the Olympics by leading the current version of the USA dream team to global domination. It would take a true deaf and blind person to not see the drive that Carmelo has for a championship in the NBA. Tell me anything different after to listening to any interview the man has given in the past year. He has clearly stated winning a championship is the only thing left to accomplish.
Also, please don’t forget the drive and intensity that Phil Jackson has to succeed. No other NBA executive and/or coach have been held to the same accountability and scrutiny that Jackson has been in his time with the Knicks organization the past few years. Being the betting man that I am, I would never in my right mind bet against Phil Jackson leading his old team to a legit championship run in the modern day NBA.
Adding a true x-factor like Kristaps Porzingis to the fold with Anthony, Rose, Noah, and the supporting cast really separates the Knicks from a heavily littered mid mix of mediocre level teams throughout the current NBA.
So when the playoffs start for this upcoming season. Look for the New York Knicks to be in it to win it. The Eastern Conference is now entering a golden era with teams like Chicago, New York, Boston, among others; fielding teams that could mix up the whole basketball world come June.
The state of the Chicago Bulls has been pretty ugly in the past few years, with this year getting even uglier. Bulls new head coach Fred Hoiberg took over this year, but things have gone from bad to terrible in that time. With less than ten games left this year the Bulls sit two full games out of the eastern conference playoff picture. With the type of salary devoted to this team not making the playoffs would be an utter disaster. At some point the Bulls ownership need to hold management accountable for this sinking status that currently covers the organization like a dense fog.
The Bulls have lacked a consistency that has been clearly evident all year. Defensively the team has absolutely flat lined over the past year and a half continues to show no sign of life. Offensively, there is no chemistry in either the front or back court. The fact Hoiberg has still not found out how to play Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Pau Gasol together effectively blows my mind.
Sure, the Bulls have had a plethora of injuries throughout the season, but who hasn’t? This team was built with allot of depth and talent, but the philosophy seems to be skewed. When the Bulls did loose players like Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler. They had significant production from Etwan Moore, Doug McDermott, and rookie Bobby Portis. But still the Bulls could not create any traction in the eastern conference and still continued to lose to horrible teams.
It is very frustrating for Bulls fans to have some great performances, but not being able to put them all together to produce a winning basketball team. This is clearly evident with the play of Derrick Rose who has missed some games this season sporadically, but overall has been a major contributor by playing at a very high level. No one thought Derrick would come back at the MVP level of a few years ago, but he has. Yet the Bulls can’t capitalize on most of these games and end up wasting another outstanding performance.
Ideally the Bulls need to improve the center position to set a better foundation going into the future. Also, regardless of Derrick Rose the Bulls need to invest in a top tier point guard to better help ensure better offensive flow and efficiency. Derrick might be an asset the Bulls trade this off season due to the fact his return value might be at its highest. The fact is everyone on this team should be available to better help bring some assets back here to Chicago.
Hopefully the Bulls front office management and ownership will make the tough decisions needed for the Bulls to take a step forward into the future instead of taking another step backwards.
The Toronto Raptors have had an above average amount of success thus far for the NBA regular season this year. Trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers by only two games for the number one spot in the Eastern Conference is a huge step forward for head coach Dwayne Casey and team. The troubling fact is Raptors are falling apart at the seams at the absolute worst time.
The issues stem from the point guard of the Raptors Kyle Lowry who has been hampered the past few months since January with elbow issues, thus making his shooting abilities and efficiency struggle significantly. This has even resulted in Lowry having the have his elbow drained as early as this past weekend.
This team has been put forward by a strong defense, but nothing really spectacular on the offensive end of late. Efficiency wise they have out played themselves so far and are starting to come back to reality. The truth of the matter is the Raptors lack some desperately needed wing play to complement DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry in the back court.
Ideally the Raptors should get into the mix for a star player like Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder who is a free agent this summer. Playing with a true point guard like Lowry could be a tremendous selling point for Durant who has played with the energetic shooting guard slash point guard in Russell Westbrook. Also, the fact Toronto has no income tax should be another point of emphasis for Durant heading into next year.
I just don’t see the Raptors having enough star power to beat teams like Cleveland, Miami, or even the Boston Celtics who are having a great year under head coach Brad Stevens. Unfortunately the Raptors do not have enough to get past the second round in the NBA playoffs this year. This will be a hard and bitter pill to swallow for Toronto fans, but they must use this as motivation for coming back next year that much better.