Jeff Van Gundy Says Knicks Can Win 50 Games This Season

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2016

In this Thursday, June 2, 2016 photo, television announcer Jeff Van Gundy speaks before Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Oddsmakers don't seem to believe in the New York Knicks, setting their over-under wins line at 38.5. But if you listen to former Knicks coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, that number appears far too low. 

"It's not easy," Van Gundy said during an interview on The Stashed's 33rd & 7th podcast with Anthony Donahue (via ESPN.com's Ian Begley). "Listen, I think they're going to be 45 to 50 [wins], low 50s, in that range."

The Knicks added Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee as starters this offseason, to go along with a revamping of their coaching staff. Jeff Hornacek is the third coach to man the bench (including interim) since Phil Jackson's arrival in 2014.

Van Gundy continued, saying:

I think there's a lot [of factors] that are sure things. I think [Joakim] Noah is going to be a sure thing as far as how he plays. [Kristaps] Porzingis is going to have a better second year than he had as a rookie. I think he'll be outstanding. [Carmelo] Anthony I think is going to be very, very good. Courtney Lee is going to be excellent as a glue type of guy in their starting lineup.

Porzingis, Anthony and Lance Thomas are the only holdovers from last year's team guaranteed major minutes. The influx of veterans seemingly runs contrary to the trajectory of Porzingis, the 21-year-old Latvian stretch forward who took the Big Apple by storm as a rookie.

Despite some criticism that these moves could hurt Porzingis' development, he's been onboard since the outset. 

"You have to understand the situation," he told Begley in July. "I'm young, but we don't have 10 years to win a championship. We got to win soon. So that's my mindset as well."

According to Van Gundy, the Knicks' chances of reaching that lofty goal come down to Rose, the oft-injured former MVP: "I think a lot comes down to [Derrick] Rose's health and play and then the bench. It will be interesting to see how that works out. But I certainly believe their starting lineup has the potential to be a 50-game winner without question."

Rose played in 66 games in 2015-16, his most in a half-decade, but he shot just 42.7 percent from the floor and struggled to acclimate to his new role. He and fellow guard Jimmy Butler were an oil-water mix, with the latter taking over as the team leader during the former's time on the shelf.

Rose hasn't averaged 20 points per game since 2011-12.


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