STOCK RISING: With a $71 million contract, a lot will be expected of Tim Hardaway Jr. But he probably won’t face the same scrutiny as Kristaps Porzingis. Hardaway Jr. is athletic, talented offensively and a good fit for what Jeff Hornacek wants to run — an up-tempo offense. His game evolved and he matured in his two years in Atlanta. It should help him now because he has to have a good attitude amid some difficult times and show he’s improved defensively.
STOCK FALLING: All the talk about defense. The Knicks say every season that they’re committed to play defense, and they rarely are. They picked up mostly scorers and shooters during the offseason, and collectively they showed few signs in the preseason that they’re committed to playing defense. Porzingis wants them to simplify things, but playing with more intensity helps too.
STOCK STEADY: New general manager Scott Perry said they’re going to be patient and let the young players develop because they’re trying to build something the right way that’s sustainable. Nothing wrong with that. The quick fix and getting the big names haven’t worked for the Knicks. Try this but everyone must understand there will be plenty of growing pains. (See Philadelphia: “Trust the Process.”)
GOOD INVESTMENT: The Knicks didn’t get a first-round pick or All-Star for Carmelo. But Enes Kanter is someone who will help them on the offensive end. He’s tough to guard inside and he can pass out of double-teams. Knicks shooters just have to knock down shots.
RISK/REWARD: Frank Ntilikina is only 19, but he’s a mature young man with long arms and confidence in his abilities. Injuries slowed the Knicks’ first-round pick in preseason, but they’re rebuilding and he’s one of the players they plan to develop. Give him time to grow.
26-56, last place in Atlantic Division
With no proven go-to guy and defense being a concern another long season awaits. All won’t be lost, though, if Kristaps Porzingis shows he can be the focal point of a team, the Knicks’ kids grow up quickly, and they’re competitive. Management wants to see the Knicks play hard and give effort. That shouldn’t be an issue with such a young group. They key word being shouldn’t. If it is, Jeff Hornacek could be on the hot seat. Either way, the Knicks will be competing for Lottery position and not a playoff berth. At least they have their 2018 first-round pick.
Al Iannazzone has covered the Knicks for Newsday since the 2011-12 season.