If you’re looking for a dark, dark horse team to win the 2016 NBA title, then perhaps you should be betting on the New York Knicks when future odds are released after this year’s postseason….at least if we’re to listen to the words of Derek Fisher.
The Knicks head coach is taking the philosophy of having confidence in your team – or at least next year’s team – to a whole new level. Speaking with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, Fisher not only believes that his team can experience a huge turnaround next season, but even win 63 games in the process. We’ll discuss the “logic” behind this belief about the 15-63 Knicks in a little bit, but first, here’s an excerpt from Youngmisuk’s column:
The Knicks’ head coach said Thursday that the Knicks “will turn around quickly.” When asked about potentially duplicating a dramatic 23-game turnaround like the Milwaukee Bucks (38-40) have done this season, Fisher said the Knicks are capable of something much more stunning.
“I guess that’s possible, but we are not here trying to squeeze in, we are not here trying to go from 15 to 36,” said Fisher, whose Knicks currently have 15 wins. “That’s just not who we are. So it can turn around quickly. It will turn around quickly.
“But we don’t really have to put a number on it,” Fisher continued. “We are 6-21 in games [decided] by six points or less this year. So we lost 21 games on two possessions. So we don’t have go from 15 to 36 next year. We can go from 15 to 63 if we really want to. But that is up to us.”
There are so many things wrong with this prediction that it’s not even funny, so it’s hard to find a starting point for discussion. But we’ll begin with a little history first, which involves the record for the greatest NBA turnaround. As ESPN points out, the 2007-08 Boston Celtics went 66-16, which was 42 games better than their previous season at 24-58. Even if the Knicks were to win out over their final four games, that would put them at 19-63, meaning 63 wins would give them the all-time record for best NBA turnaround.
Okay, so let’s suspend reality and just assume that there’s a chance the 2015-16 New York team is capable of this gaudy improvement. Let us also consider what they have to work off of from this season, which has included awful defense, a 16-game losing streak and a franchise-worst in losses. Blame this on Carmelo Anthony’s mid-season decision to have season-ending surgery all you want, but things were terrible before their star player checked out for the year.
Learning the Triangle Offense has also proven to be a mess for the Knicks, with some players even publicly questioning whether this is the right fit for a young New York squad. But nevertheless, Phil Jackson will be back as Team President, Fisher will again be the head coach, and the Knicks will still be working on making the Triangle flow right.
Assuming they can get the offense down, then there is some hope for next year. After all, Anthony should be healthy in the 2015-16 season and, with the worst record right now, the Knicks are guaranteed a top-4 lottery pick. So there’s a solid chance that they could add a franchise center like Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor.
And let’s also not forget about the $25 million to $30 million in cap space that Jackson will have to work with in the offseason. This is enough money to add at least one superstar to play alongside Anthony and some very good role players. So while a 40-some win improvement might be stretching things, New York should definitely play much better basketball next season.