Associated Press/Associated Press
Jose Calderon, the Knicks' likely new starting point guard, is not known for sticky defending (as shown here versus the Spurs' Patty Mills).
Defense, (lack thereof) could ruin the Knicks' chances.
Jose Calderon, the likely choice for starting point guard, will be an improvement on offense but could be a liability on the other side of the court. In June, the Knicks acquired Calderon from Dallas, where the local media lamented Calderon's slowness and overall ineffective defense.
Iman Shumpert, arguably the team's scrappiest defender, was yanked out of the starting lineup in March, and there's no guarantee he'll be invited back in. Center Samuel Dalembert, also picked up in the Dallas trade, is a strong defender, but he only played 21 minutes per game as a starter for the Mavericks. Plus he'll be fighting for the starting spot with Jason Smith, who was picked up from the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this month.
Luckily, Thanasis Antetokounmpo has chosen to join the D-League instead of taking one of the contracts offered to him by teams in Europe, sources told RealGM Thursday. The Greek guard-forward's tenacious defense during the summer league won him many admirers in New York. The plan is for Antetokounmpo to play for the Knicks' new D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks. With him just across the Bronx instead of just across the Atlantic, the Knicks brass has a great opportunity to craft his game.
Despite the likelihood of suspect defense and the mystery about the new personnel, the Knicks might just surpass all expectations and smash the early predictions.
But I'm going to go out on a limb and make some predictions anyway—for which you can bludgeon me mercilessly over the next eight to 10 months.
The Knicks will win the Atlantic Division—just barely eking out the Raptors—head into the playoffs as the third seed behind Chicago and Washington and get eliminated in the second round by either the Raptors or the Cavaliers in a six-game series.
If that turns out to be true, someone owes me season tickets on the Chase Bridge at the Garden in 2015-16. I'll also accept a free hot dog.
All stats are from NBA.com/Stats.
Follow Sara Peters on Twitter @3FromThe7.