Timberwolves Odds: Jimmy Butler Tears Meniscus – Could Return in 2018

jimmy-butler-timberwolves-injuryMinnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler tore his meniscus in Friday’s game against the Houston Rockets. And he’s already undergone successful surgery to repair the injury at the Mayo Clinic.

Butler suffered a non-contact tear in the third quarter of Minnesota’s loss to the Rockets. He sat on the floor in pain, then needed help getting back to the locker room.

The All-Star is averaging 22.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 56 games for his team. Minnesota is currently sitting in third place in the tough Western Conference.

Butler Hopes to be Back before the 2018 Playoffs

A torn meniscus is certainly not a light injury. But the good news for Butler is that it’s also not as bad as tearing an ACL. This has him thinking that he can be back before the playoffs start in late April.

Assuming Minnesota can hang onto one of the top eight spots in the West, they’ll clinch their first playoff berth in the last 13 seasons.

“I’ve been around this a long time,” said Minnesota forward Taj Gibson, who’s been Butler’s teammate dating back to their days with the Chicago Bulls.

“The bright side is it isn’t his ACL, so that’s a good thing. It still sucks he has a tough injury; all injuries are tough, but the doctors are saying some good things, so we’ll see in a few weeks maybe.”

What will Timberwolves be Facing without Butler?

jimmy-butler-timberwolves-injury-1Minnesota is coming off an easy schedule of eight straight games against teams with sub-500 records. And they’ve used this to add a cushion in the standings with regard to earning home-court in the first round.

Furthermore, there’s still a chance that Butler returns this year, given that a meniscus injury isn’t as bad as an ACL. One more positive is that even if he doesn’t make it back for the playoffs, he’ll be fully ready for the start of the 2018-2019 campaign.

But not everything is great for Minnesota following the loss of Butler. Their schedule heats up considerably in March, when they play road games against Portland, Utah, Washington, and San Antonio. They’ll also have tough home games against Boston, Golden State, Houston and the L.A. Clippers.

All of these teams are above .500, and some of them are either chasing Minnesota in the standings or trying to hold them off.

The Timberwolves weren’t a playoff club last year due to their young roster. And there’s no question that adding Butler has accelerated this team’s development. This being said, they’ll be tested moving forward without their All-Star swingman.

Minnesota should still play well, given that they have Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jeff Teague leading the way. But it’s going to be much tougher to make it through their March schedule without Butler on the floor.

How Minnesota emerges from the upcoming eight-game stretch will say a lot about them moving forward. It doesn’t help matters that the team is only 4.5 games ahead of the 10th-place Western Conference squad.

Adding to the difficulty is that other players will have to step things up on the defensive end, with stars like Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum; Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, James Harden, and Lou Williams coming up on the schedule.

Butler is one of the best defenders in the league, and he can guard multiple positions with ease. But without him, Minnesota could struggle to contain the gauntlet ahead.

Timberwolves Odds Moving Forward

If you want to bet on the T-Wolves, you can do so right here. But keep in mind that it will be fairly difficult to judge them for the next few games.

It’s also hard to figure out where we can expect the Timberwolves to land in the standings. The West is still very much unsettled right now. But given that Minnesota has been out of the playoffs for so long, many will be rooting for them to make it through the tough upcoming stretch.

Bulls Bench Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday in Tank Job

robin-lopez-justin-holidayThe Chicago Bulls will bench starters Justin Holiday, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez for the immediate future. Meanwhile, Cristiano Felicio, David Nwaba and Cameron Payne will be playing serious minutes.

They’ll join Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen as rotation players who are ushering in the Bulls’ youth movement.

Executive vice president John Paxson announced that the team wants to get a better look at some of its younger players over the last 25 games.

“You can’t play 12 guys in our game. Nine or 10 is the most. And it’s just the position we’re in as a young team, with a lot of young guys and several who we haven’t really had the chance to see play much this year,” Paxson told the Chicago Tribune.

“For us to make the proper evaluation in terms of who fits us moving forward, this is something we have to do.”

Felicio and Nwaba will be in the starting lineup alongside Dunn, LaVine, and Markkanen. And Paxson said that these players will see “sufficient time” in the future.

Payne will also play more minutes, backing up Dunn at point guard. Meanwhile, Grant, Lopez, and Holiday are going to see their playing time reduced moving forward.

“Having played, I was out of the rotation several times. I know what it’s like to be asked to take a lesser role,” Paxson explained. “Players have pride. So it’s hard. I don’t take that lightly at all.

The VP added, “But we have to look at the big picture. And that’s what we’re doing. It’s not easy as players. But one thing I’ve been impressed by with this group all year is they’ve bonded together, they like one another and they support one another. I don’t see that changing.”

Paxson Points to Portis and Valentine as Perfect Examples

Paxson is using Bulls rotation players Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine as examples of what can happen when giving young players more minutes. Both have become important cogs in this year’s squad.

Felicio and Payne could really use the chance to show what they can do. They’ve fared poorly in limited playing time so far.

“What you hope for from a player standpoint is they gain some confidence in who they are, get comfortable on the floor and play well. I still think we have a lot of really good young talent,” said Paxson.

david-nwaba-bulls“I think the exciting thing for us is for the first time we’re going to have a healthy Zach, Lauri and Kris. They’re obviously the core.”

LaVine is still working himself back into the same player he was with the Minnesota Timbersolves. The young combo guard tore his ACL last season, but has looked good so far in restricted minutes.

Paxson is talking to the team’s medical staff about LaVine playing more. He’ll no longer be on a 20-minute limit, but head coach Fred Hoiberg will still be “smart” with his minutes.

Payne has been banged up too, undergoing surgery for a bone in his right foot back in September. Now Paxson would like to see how he handles more minutes.

“Especially when you’re running with the second unit and the way Fred wants to play, play with pace, defend your position, compete every night and stay within yourself. His role is to get us into offense quickly and efficiently and make the right play with the ball. You don’t want to be a high turnover guy.”

Paxson added, “He got some G League games in, which was helpful for his conditioning. But he hasn’t played basketball for a long time. And just as we talked about with Zach, there are going to be some ups and downs.

“Guys have to play through mistakes. But Cam has to run our team. We saw once Kris Dunn got his confidence and swagger back, he did a great job of running our team. That’s what Cam has to do in a backup role.”

Bulls are Tanking at This Point

Chicago exceeded expectations prior to the All-Star break. The team traded starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler in the offseason, bought out veteran Dwyane Wade, and let Rajon Rondo walk.

They made it clear that the team wasn’t planning a serious playoff run. But the Bulls played well when Nikola Mirotic (since traded) returned from a face injury.

At 20-39, the team is no longer competing for anything substantial. So it only makes sense to tank for a better draft pick and see what other players can do.

Hoiberg has done a good job of embracing the rebuilding effort this season. But he’s also had to take instructions from upper brass about whom to play.

“I understand where we are right now as an organization. From my standpoint, it doesn’t change our approach,” explained Hoiberg.

“And that’s the important message to our players. We have to have great practices and great competition and play extremely hard once we step on the floor. We’re going to try to put a game plan together to give our team an opportunity to compete to win. That doesn’t change.”

Chicago will hope to turn their tanking into something productive in this summer’s draft lottery. Last year, they got an excellent pick in Markkanen, a 7-footer who’s adept when shooting both inside and outside.

Chicago Bulls Odds

If you’re interested in betting on Chicago, you can find Bulls odds here. But just keep in mind that they’re an unpredictable bet right now, thanks to the young players they’ll be starting.

Cavs Dismantle Celtics – Look Like East Favorites Again

cavs-celtics-februaryThe Cleveland Cavaliers’ chances of repeating as Eastern Conference champions looked dismal leading up to the Feb 8 trade deadline. After all, the team was playing terrible defense and had lost 7 of their last 20 games. But a few trades and one blowout victory over the Boston Celtics later, and Cleveland looks like favorites once again.

The Cavs crushed the Celtics 121-99 on the road, sending a clear message that nobody should doubt them right now in their quest for a fourth-straight conference title.

Their new lineup, including George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson, combined for 49 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in this blowout victory. For the first time in 2018, Cleveland looked youthful and energetic.

New Teammates are Exactly what LeBron Needed

LeBron doesn’t need to play with a bunch of superstars. Instead, he simply needs good teammates who have certain skills.

For example, George Hill may not be an All-Star like Isaiah Thomas. But he is a solid point guard who nails open three-pointers and has plenty of experience leading successful playoff teams. Just four years ago, he served as point guard for Indiana’s back-to-back conference championship appearances.

cavs-celtics-february-1Nance isn’t a modern big man who can make shots from beyond the arc. But he’s an athletic forward/center who can defend the pick and roll better than any Cleveland center in recent memory.

Hood was a very strong player at Duke, averaging 16 PPG and shooting 42% from three-point range. He’s carried this on into the pros, where, in 39 games with Utah, he was averaging 16 PPG and shooting 39% from three-point range.

The Lakers never truly committed to Clarkson being a part of their future. After all, he’s not an All-Star caliber point guard. But Clarkson is a good shooter with a nice all-around game who can play both guard positions.

The fact that Cleveland got all four of these players for Thomas, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, Jae Crowder, and cash is a major steal.

Cavs Have a Different Feeling

All reports indicate that Cleveland suddenly has a different feeling inside of their locker room. Something needed to change, given that GM Koby Altman described the previous scene as a “slow death march.” And Altman didn’t just make a few minor changes on the bench – he completely revamped the lineup.

cavs-vs-celticsNow, it feels like Cleveland has a different level of talent and energy on the floor. This was completely evident against the Celtics, in a game that was never close in the second half.

“I thought our spirit was different,” said head coach Tyronn Lue. “I didn’t know what the outcome would be. But I knew we would compete and play hard. Move the basketball and move bodies. Those guys are flying around and it was good to see.”

Lue is also happy to see how excited the new faces are about competing for a conference title and possibly a championship.

“I know the guys that’s here, they’re very excited about this opportunity, and it’s my job to keep them excited about being here,” he explained.

“They’re joining something that obviously the last couple months hasn’t been what we expected, but over the course of the last four years, since I came back, has been really good basketball.

“So it’s my job as the leader of this team to make sure that I acclimate the new four guys to be around a culture that’s built on winning and practicing championship habits. That’s it.”

No Guarantees in the NBA

The battle for the Eastern Conference title is shaping up to be a tough one. Boston added new pieces that make them a serious threat. Toronto is a strong team that’s been to the playoffs several years in a row. And Milwaukee suddenly looks revamped after firing Jason Kidd.

As for Cleveland, this blowout win over Boston doesn’t guarantee anything. Hill could start playing older over the next few weeks. And Clarkson, Nance, and Hood may find it difficult to make clutch plays when a conference title and championship are on the line.

Nevertheless, this team feels different in a better way from the old roster – half of which was traded away. The previous players were part of a squad that was beaten by Boston at TD Garden just last month. But the Celtics game may have just reasserted Cleveland’s dominance over the East again.

2018 Cavs Futures at GTBets (Updated Feb 12)

Odds to Win Eastern Conference

Cleveland +125
Boston +200
Toronto +375
Milwaukee +1400
Washington +1800
Miami +4000
Indiana +5000

Odds to Win NBA Championship

Golden State -230
Houston +475
Cleveland +750
Boston +800
Oklahoma City +2500
Toronto +2500
San Antonio +3000
Milwaukee +5000
Minnesota +6000

Nothing has really changed in our 2018 futures following the Cavs’ win over the Celtics. That said, Cleveland may be offering even more value in the East odds after blowing Boston out.

If you can jump on these same odds before they (possibly) shift, then I recommend that you do so.

As for the championship odds, we need a larger sample size with this new lineup before declaring that the Cavs are a bigger title favorite than Houston or Golden State.

Spurs: Best Bet to Beat the Golden State Warriors?

Last season, it felt like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs were shaking up to be a great long-term rivalry. Unfortunately, Spurs star Kawhi Leonard got injured in the Western Conference Finals, allowing Golden State to sweep them.

This season feels different, though, because the Warriors (43-13) return everybody from a team that went 16-1 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, San Antonio (35-22) has experienced a little bit of turmoil.

Nevertheless, it feels like the Spurs are being overlooked as a team that could potentially dethrone Golden State. This is especially the case after they lost 122-105 this weekend against their rivals.

But then again, we also have to account for the fact that the Spurs are playing without Leonard, starting point guard Dejounte Murray, and franchise stalwart Tony Parker.

And given the Spurs’ system, they must be given credit for being a threat to the Warriors. That said, let’s discuss why San Antonio should still be considered a team that could topple the Warriors’ dynasty.

San Antonio doesn’t Make Mistakes

Golden State is well known for going on big runs that crush their opponents. Such was the case against the Spurs in the third quarter of the recent game.

But the difference between the Warriors’ run in this case, versus against other teams, is that San Antonio was merely missing key players – not making blunders.

Even Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised San Antonio for their lack of mistakes and great execution.

“They just execute all game,” said Kerr. “They just don’t make many mistakes. Every cut is a hard cut. Every time they catch the ball, they’re in an attack mode, and so they’re constantly putting pressure on you.

“They are who they are. You know what’s coming, but you know they’re gonna stay consistent, and here they are in third place in the West without Kawhi all year.”

San Antonio’s execution was in full force on Saturday. They dished out 30 assists compared to just 10 turnovers, good for a 3:1 ratio.

“No matter who’s out of the lineup, who’s in the lineup, they just never get away from who they are,” Warriors forward Draymond Green explained.

“They always defend. They don’t beat themselves. You have to beat them. When you make mistakes, they make you pay — and that’s no matter who they have in the lineup, which makes a difference, and it makes them tough.”

The Spurs Capitalize on Mistakes, which should Scare Golden State

gregg-popovich-lebronGreat football teams are able to turn opponents’ turnovers into offense. Such is the case with the Spurs too, who make opposing teams pay for mistakes.

“When you make mistakes, they make you pay,” said Green.

This is more than just a general statement from Green. It also describes a potential worry for the Warriors if they meet a healthy San Antonio in the payoffs.

Kerr’s biggest gripe with his team in past years has been their tendency to bunch turnovers. In fact, this is usually the only way that other teams stand a chance of beating the highly talented Warriors.

Golden State plays a fast-paced game that requires quick decisions in passing. And this style has them turning the ball over at a rapid rate of 16 per game, which is second-worst in the league.

This isn’t a new issue for the Warriors either, because they ranked 11th out of 16th among 2017 playoff teams in turnovers per game.

Imagine a scenario where Golden State can’t clean up their turnovers by this year’s postseason, and they run into the Spurs. San Antonio may not have as many superstars as the Warriors, but they can make up for this by punishing Golden State for their mistakes.

San Antonio is Good at Adapting

The toughest thing about playing the Warriors is how many different looks they can throw at opponents. This creates a situation where opposing teams have trouble defending the various lineups that Golden State trots out.

But one team that can deal with this is San Antonio. Their roster and team philosophy is predicated on being able to adapt to whatever opponents throw out. Warriors forward David West, who played for San Antonio from 2015-16, discussed this aspect of the Spurs.

“It’s a high-information environment, in terms of basketball stuff, life stuff,” West explained. “It’s a very tight-knit organization and group of people.”

This tight-knit group has earned praise from Kerr, who’s called San Antonio the best basketball franchise for the past 20 years. And much of this can be attributed to coach Gregg Popovich, who’s won 5 NBA championships during this span.

Kawhi Leonard Has to be Healthy

kawhi-leonardSan Antonio has a very effective “next man up” philosophy that calls on everybody to step up when needed. This has helped San Antonio stay within striking distance in the standings, despite their best player been out with a long-term quad injury.

But everything we’ve covered up to this point has little bearing on the Spurs beating Golden State if Leonard can’t play.

The main problem here is that Leonard provides the type of scoring power San Antonio needs to hang with the Warriors. As shown in last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Spurs just don’t have the firepower to keep up when Leonard isn’t playing.

As it stands now, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are drawing the most attention as far as contenders in the West. But even these two talent-laden teams could have trouble stopping Golden State from making their fourth-straight appearance in the NBA Finals.

That said, perhaps it’s the Spurs who had the best chance to win based on their discipline and adaptability. But again, the only chance they have in the playoffs is if their team is healthy.

2018 Spurs Futures – Courtesy of GTBets

Odds to Win 2018 Western Conference Title

  • Golden State -325
  • Houston +375
  • Oklahoma City +1400
  • San Antonio +1400
  • Minnesota +2500
  • Portland +10000
  • Denver +15000

Odds to Win 2018 NBA Championship

  • Golden State -230
  • Houston +475
  • Cleveland +750
  • Boston +800
  • Oklahoma City +2500
  • Toronto +2500
  • San Antonio +3000
  • Milwaukee +5000
  • Minnesota +6000

Taking everything into account, San Antonio may currently be a value bet to win both the West and NBA title. They’re undervalued right now, because Leonard has been injured for weeks. But if he gets healthy in time for the playoffs, then San Antonio becomes a legitimate threat.

Can Dwyane Wade Help Miami Make the 2018 Playoffs?

dwyane-wade-heat-2018The Cleveland Cavaliers recently sent shooting guard Dwayne Wade to the Miami Heat in a trade deadline deal. The Cavs only received a heavily protected second-round pick in return.

Many believe that this deal was done as a favor to Wade, because Cleveland picked up three guards at the deadline. And it’s likely that Wade’s minutes would’ve been squeezed by these younger players.

The 36-year-old didn’t fit into Cleveland’s plans to get younger and more athletic. But he’s happy to be back in Miami, where he’s now spent 14 of his 15 professional seasons.

The Heat can really use Wade’s services right now as well. The team lost Dion Waiters to ankle surgery in late January. Waiters was having a solid season, averaging 14.3 PPG and 3.8 APG before being shut down for the year.

The team also has Wayne Ellington (11.2 PPG) playing backup two-guard. But they don’t have any depth at this position beyond Ellington.

Given that Miami (30-26) is currently sitting in seventh in the Eastern Conference, they’re a serious contender to make the playoffs. But nothing is a given right now, with the Philadelphia 76ers (28-25) and Detroit Pistons (27-27) also hunting for a postseason berth.

That said, let’s discuss if Wade furthers the team’s goals of making the playoffs, or if this is his last ride into the sunset of a Hall of Fame career.

Wade Brings Energy to Debut

Wade played his first game for Miami on Friday night. The 15-year veteran came off the bench amid chants of “We want Wade!” His first play involved getting a defensive rebound, then assisting to Hassan Whiteside’s dunk.

dwyane-wade-heat-2018-2Nobody will describe Wade’s first performance back in town as efficient. He contributed 3 points, 2 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in 22 minutes. But he did help them beat the Milwaukee Bucks 91-85.

“Great energy in the building,” Wade told ESPN. “When I went out to warm up, it was definitely a playoff atmosphere. The crowd was amazing. I missed this crowd.”

Whiteside also felt like the game against the Bucks had a different energy than a normal regular season contest.

“It felt like a playoff game,” said Whiteside, who grabbed 16 rebounds and scored 12 points. “The fans were in an uproar. It felt like a playoff game, and Miami was just rocking. It hadn’t felt like that in a while here.”

Wade is the Heat’s all-time leader in points, assists, steals, and games played. So it’s no wonder why Miami fans are excited to see him back in town.

He left the team for free agency after signing a big deal in Chicago. He then agreed to a buyout with the Bulls, before signing with Cleveland in the offseason. Now he’s back at the place where it all started.

Heat Coach Surprised to Have Wade Back

Head coach Eric Spoelstra has spent plenty of time with Wade, having coached him for years. And he was surprised when Miami president Pat Riley floated the possibility of bringing the 12-time All-Star back.

Riley mentioned how they could acquire both Luke Babbit and Dwayne. And the coach was actually puzzled at the latter mention.

“What?” asked Spoelstra. “Dwyane who?”

Riley continued to tell him that Wade could soon be available, given that Cleveland was planning to make some major moves.

“My only response was, ‘Let’s go, let’s do it.’ But it was probably not something any of us foresaw two weeks ago,” said Spoelstra. “Crazy things happen in this league, so it just absolutely felt like perfect timing for both parties, and it was actually surreal how quickly it came about.”

Wade Happy to be Back

Although Wade was playing on a contending team in Cleveland, his heart never left Miami. He was ecstatic to return home in the recent deal.

dwyane-wade-heat-2018-1“I was telling [head coach] Spo after the game that I actually felt normal,” Wade explained. “He said he felt a little weird seeing me on the bench to start the game, but I actually felt normal. Once the game starts, it becomes a game and you get into it.”

Spoelstra liked what he saw from both Wade and the fans on Friday.

“Obviously it was special to have Dwyane back in uniform, back on our side in front of the home fans,” Spoelstra remarked. “It felt exactly the way it should. It felt normal. It felt like home. It felt like family. It felt all the things you came to expect with Dwyane.”

What Impact will Dwyane Wade Have for the 2018 Heat?

Wade is currently averaging a career-low in points (11.0) and minutes (23.2). He’s certainly not the same player he used to be. But even at 36, with 15 seasons’ worth of mileage, Wade is still a contributor who can serve as a serious offensive threat.

The Heat need more help at shooting guard with Waiters done for the season. And Wade comes back to his old team at the perfect time.

Nobody is expecting Wade and the Heat to suddenly go on a major hot streak. But he can at least help them secure a lower playoff seed.

Perhaps if everything goes right, Miami can move up in the East standings. They’re one game back of the 6th-seeded Indiana Pacers (31-25), and 1.5 games back of the 5th-seeded Milwaukee Bucks (31-24).

2018 Miami Heat Futures

According to our GTBets sportsbook, Miami currently has the 6th-best odds of winning the Eastern Conference championship. You can take a look at their odds of winning the East below:

  • Cleveland +125
  • Boston +200
  • Toronto +375
  • Milwaukee +1400
  • Washington +1800
  • Miami +4000
  • Indiana +5000

There’s a big gap in odds between the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat. And this doesn’t figure to close any time soon, unless Miami can overtake the Wizards in the standings by a comfortable margin.

With 29 games left in the season, anything is possible. Assuming Wade really helps the Heat, maybe we’ll see them move up as high as 4th in the standings, which would give them home-court for a first-round playoff series.

Kristaps Porzingis Out 10 Months w/ ACL Surgery – Knicks Season Officially Over

kristaps-porzingis-injuryNew York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis saw his 2018 campaign come to a disappointing end after tearing his ACL last week. The forward/center is now set to have surgery on Tuesday, which will officially end his season.

According to ESPN, Porzingis will be out for 10 months. This includes both the recovery from the surgery along with rehabilitation afterward.

The Latvian tore his left ACL last Tuesday in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Porzingis went up for a dunk and came down awkwardly.

“He’s of course really sad because he wanted to be out there so bad with us,” said teammate Enes Kanter. “But I think at the same time he’s staying really positive. Like, ‘Man I just want to get my surgery done early so I can just start getting my rehab and I can come back and play.’ I think he’s going to come back even stronger because he’s really hungry.”

Let’s continue discussing how devastating this injury is for Porzingis along with how it translates into another lost season for the Knicks.

Porzingis’ First All-Star Campaign Ends Badly

kristaps-porzingis-injury-2The fact that Kristaps Porzingis hurt himself this year is definitely saddening for a guy who’s come into his own. The 7’3″ big man is averaging 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.4 blocks, and shooting 39.5% from the three-point line.

Given these numbers, it’s no surprise why Porzingis earned his first All-Star nod in three seasons. And he was coming along nicely as the new focal point of New York’s offense.

But now Porzingis is forced to have his stellar year cut shot due to a serious injury. And the ACL tear isn’t just impacting this season, but will also have an effect in the 2018-19 campaign too.

First off, he won’t have the summer to continue working on his game and improving. Instead, Porzingis will be sidelined until next December according to the current time line.

This puts Porzingis on the court over 20 games into the next season. While this still gives him plenty of time to get into the swing of things, the Knicks will have difficulty staying competitive without him.

Is there Any Good to Come Out of Porzingis’ Injury?

kristaps-porzingis-injury-1The only good thing to come from this injury is that New York may improve their positioning in the draft lottery. The team is currently 23-33 and sits 6 games out of a playoff spot.

Considering that Porzingis won’t take the court for the final 29 games, we can almost guarantee that the Knicks will miss the postseason. The only question now is if they’ll do poorly enough to continue falling in the East standings and adding more ping-pong balls for the lottery.

Ideally, New York will land a top 5-10 pick that they can pair with Porzingis and the rest of the young core. Assuming that Porzingis had continued playing, this wouldn’t be possible because New York might win some more games and actually compete for a playoff spot.

Right now, the team is four games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks, who have the worst record in the league at 17-39. The Dallas Mavericks have the second-worst record at 17-38.

What’s Left for the Knicks with Porizingis Out?

knicks-rookieAs explained above, it’s highly unlikely that New York will get anywhere near the playoffs without their star player. Even if Porzingis were playing, it’s still unlikely that they’d bridge the 6-game gap between themselves and the Philadelphia 76ers (currently 8th in East).

Right now, the best thing that head coach Jeff Hornacek and the team can do is build for the future. They have several other young players besides Porzingis who could help form a valuable team next season and beyond.

10 of the 15 players on the active roster are 25 or younger. This includes Tim Hardaway Jr (25), Trey Burke (25), Enes Kanter (25), and Frank Ntilikina (19).

Kanter is definitely having a productive season, with 14.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and shooting over 60% from the field. Hardaway isn’t shooting the ball very well (40.5%), but he is averaging a career-high in points (16.4).

Burke, who recently signed with the team, is off to a hot start, averaging 8.5 PPG and shooting nearly 55% in just 14 minutes per game. Ntilikina, who was the seventh-overall pick in last year’s draft, is having rookie struggles with 35.2% shooting. But at 19 years old, he has plenty of time to develop.

The team also recently traded for point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was previously on the Denver Nuggets. New York sent Doug McDermott to the Mavericks and the L.A. Clippers’ 2020 second-round pick to the Denver Nuggets in a three-team swap.

It’s unclear exactly how Mudiay fits into the Knicks’ future plans, especially since they already have Burke and Ntilikina at the same position. But this gives New York three former top-10 picks that’ll be battling for minutes at lead guard.

Considering that the team isn’t going anywhere in 2018, they have plenty of minutes to give younger players in hopes of forming a successful foundation. And maybe when Porzingis returns to the court next season, the team will be able to compete for the playoffs.