It’s safe to say that Joakim Noah’s first season with the New York Knicks didn’t go well. Noah played just 46 games in an injury plagued season, where he only averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
That said, it’s little surprise that many NBA fans have already written off the former defensive player of the year. But if head coach Jeff Hornacek’s recent comments are any indication, Noah could definitely surprise some people this year and improve New York’s odds of winning.
Noah has been Playing Great in Training Camp
The New York Post recently chronicled Noah’s performance in the Knicks’ training camp. And they noted how the 32-year-old looked really strong running up and down the floor, hitting the boards, and playing smothering defense like he once did for the Chicago Bulls.
Hornacek noticed and quickly pointed out how the former All-Star is playing great basketball.
“Coming off those injuries, literally, I’m shocked of how well he’s played just because I didn’t think he was gonna be ready this early,” said Hornacek. “I’m extremely happy with how he’s playing. He’s playing the right way.
“He sets great screens, he rolls hard, which opens up other things for guys if he doesn’t get it. He’s been finishing with driving layups. He’s been playing great.”
The coach also mentioned that Noah is hoping to erase the disappointment of last year with a strong campaign in the 2017-18 season. Noah wants to justify the $72 million contract that he signed in the 2016 off-season.
“He wants to come back and show everybody what kind of player he is and he’s worked hard to do that over the summer,” Hornacek explained. “I give him a lot of credit so far.”
Noah Must Serve Suspension First
New York can certainly use a healthy Noah to improve upon last year’s losing campaign. The only drawback is that the center must sit out the first 11 games of the season for performance-enhancing drugs.
He is, however, eligible to play in the preseason. This will help Hornacek sort out minutes at a center position that includes Willy Hernangomez and the newly acquired Enes Kanter.
It’ll also help to the get some much-needed court time because he hasn’t seen the floor since February 4, when shoulder and knee injuries sidelined him.
“We’re probably gonna keep him limited, but we want to get him in and taste playing again,” said Hornacek. “He was out the last part of the season, so we want to get him some time, definitely.”
10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony has been the Knicks’ locker room leader for the past seven seasons. However, he was recently traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I just know that I have a lot of experience in this game, good and bad and I just want to use that to try and help some of these younger players,” Noah explained.
“When you go through what I went through and you have a lot of injuries and things like that, you just appreciate practice and competing and things like that. I’m just happy to be here.
“I want to compete. I know I have a suspension but I just want to be a good influence on the younger kids from now on.”
Knicks Odds in 2017-18
Here are our current futures on the New York Knicks for the upcoming season:
- Knicks odds to win Eastern Conference: +20000
- Knicks odds to win NBA Finals: +50000
It’s hard to have much faith in New York turning things around after a dismal 32-50 campaign.
Two of their top-3 scorers in Anthony (22.4 PPG) and Derrick Rose (18.0 PPG) are gone. But the Knicks did make some additions that could help them improve upon last season’s record.
They signed swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. this offseason. The former Atlanta Hawk averaged 14.5 points and shot 35.7% from the three-point line last season.
New York also brought in Michael Beasley on a veteran’s minimum contract. Beasley averaged 9.4 PPG on 53.2% shooting in just 16.7 minutes per game for Milwaukee last season.
Kanter and small forward Doug McDermott came over in the Anthony trade. Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for OKC last year. McDermott scored 9.0 PPG and shot 37.0% from the three-point line for the Thunder.
New York also returns some important players in Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, and Lance Thomas. Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in his second season, is already a borderline All-Star. And the Latvian big man only figures to get better.
Add in an improved Noah, and this team could exceed expectations. But what are the current expectations?
CBS currently has New York ranked 28th out of 30 NBA teams. Obviously this doesn’t inspire much confidence. But on the other hand, the Knicks have nowhere to go but up.