Knicks Best Case Scenario: Roster Edition

The New York Knicks will have an excess of $30 million in cap space to spend this offseason, as well as a top five draft pick. With those factors, the Knicks are expected to have a completely revamped roster heading into next season, which should be welcomed by all after a 17-65 season.

If all goes well for the Knicks, this could be their roster. While speculation has been rampant about possible stars coming to New York, many are unrealistic and simply not going to happen. Here is a realistic, best case scenario, possible roster.

Point Guard

Starter: Patrick Beverley 

Backup: Langston Galloway

Reserve: Alexey Shved

Point guard was once a highly intriguing position for the Knicks. Names such as Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, and Brandon Knight all were legitimate possibilities for the Knicks just a few short months ago. Now though, all has changed.

Rondo’s self destruction with the Mavericks makes him an unappealing addition, Dragic seems destined to stay in Miami, and Brandon Knight is restricted and should remain a Phoenix Sun.

So who can the Knicks sign? Patrick Beverley. Not the most exciting player as he averages just 10.4 PPG and 3.4 APG, but he can get the job done with his top notch, astounding defense. He has let only 32.1% of his opponents three pointers to go in, a -2.9% opponent shot percentage, meaning he lowers his opponents FG% BY 2.9% compared to other defenders. The Rockets

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defense was also 4.6 points better with Beverley on the court then off it. His three point percentage was a career high 35.6% this season, and he is continuing to improve. With all the elite offensive point guards in the league today, a defensive anchor such as Beverley should be a sound addition. He also is only 26 right now, so he fits the Knicks goal of bringing in younger players.

Beverley is known as a hard working player too, who despite is 6’1 size, still averaged 4.2 RPG. He also had a career high 35.6% on three point attempts.

Off the bench will be two more younger players, Langston Galloway (23) and Alexey Shved (26). Both came into the scene late in the year, showing promise with solid play. Galloway was called up from the D-League and beat all expectations, scoring 11.8 PPG. He also was solid on the defensive end with 1.2 SPG. He also was a very clutch shooter, knocking down three clutch shots early in his NBA career. He more than earned an encore performance for next season.

Shved is a risky option, but with the right development, he could be an excellent third stringer. He struggled with the 76ers and Rockets last season after two promising seasons with the Timberwolves. Once with the Knicks though, he revived himself, scoring 14.8 PPG on 40% shooting overall and 37% from deep. He also added 4.6 RPG and 3.6 APG. He struggles creating and knocking down shots at times, but he also as the potential to be a deadly scorer.

Shooting Guard

Starter: Wesley Matthews 

Backup:  Tim Hardaway Jr.

Backup: K.J. McDaniels

The Knicks had all sorts of instability at the shooting guard slot this season, starting a shocking 7 different players at the position.

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Despite the torn Achilles, Wesley Matthews suffered this season, he is expected to return in August, giving him ample time to recover for the season. He is a more advanced “Three and D player”, known for his three point shot and defensive presence. He actually was leading the league in three pointers made at the time of his injury. His defense is also excellent, as the Blazers outscored opponents by about 7 points when he was on the floor, and Matthews himself has a -2.8% opponent shot percentage. The Blazers also were 5.6 points better on defense with Matthews on the floor compared to when he was off.

His price probably will fall as teams are cautious with players coming off major surgery, but he is only 28 and should recover fully. He averaged 15.9 on 39% shooting from deep, as well as 1.2 SPG. The Knicks could convince him to sign a fairly priced one-year deal to come out and prove he is back to his old self and then cash in with the projected cap increase, or even better, sign him long term. Whichever happens, him and Patrick Beverley could form the best defensive backcourt in the NBA.

Hardaway Jr. did not have the improvements the Knicks would have hoped from the second year player, but he did finish strong, averaging 17.9 PPG in the final 13 games of the year, taking out the three games he left early with due to nagging wrist problems. Hardaway should be in contention to be the team’s sixth man.

Now adding K.J. McDaniels would be an under the radar move, but definitely a solid one. McDaniels is an uber-athletic rookie swing man who was absolutely breathtaking at times with his play. Whether it be flying in for an unbelievable dunk or swatting away a shot with ease, McDaniels has potential. In 52 appearances with the lowly  76ers, McDaniels averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a game on 40% shooting. He also is a beast on defense, as his opponents have a -11.3% when up against McDaniels 6 feet or closer to the basket, with just 48%. He also is a solid perimeter defender, where his opponents have just a .2% increase in FG percentage. McDaniels is raw, but has so much potential he would be difficult to pass up.

Small Forward

Starter: Carmelo Anthony

Backup: Cleanthony Early

Reserve: Lance Thomas

Small forward will be the only position where it could very well be the same cast as last season, with a minor addition. Carmelo Anthony will absolutely be back in Manhattan next season. The hope now is he will be able to make a full recovery from his injury and get

Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

back his elite level playing style. His two backups though, will have to perform well.

Cleanthony Early had some bright spots throughout the season, marred by injury and inconsistent play. He picked up the pace though towards the end of the season, with seven of his nine double digit point games coming in March or later. Early has potential to be a very good scorer, but needs to stay consistent.

Lance Thomas was one of the pieces acquired from the Thunder in the three way J.R. Smith trade, and he panned out surprisingly well. He averaged 8.3 PPG and 3 RPG in 40 games as a Knick, as well as doing his part on the defensive end. He held his opponents to a .6% increase on FG% compared to against other defenders, so while he was not great, he did do a decent job. Derek Fisher gave him nothing but praise, also mentioning that he was an excellent locker room guy. That can not be overlooked in the NBA, and should strengthen his case to return.

The fourth string option is more of a swingman, but he could play consistently in the SF slot with more experience. Thanasis Antetokounmpo was the Knicks second second round selection after Cleanthony Early in the 2014 NBA draft. Anyone who has seen his younger brother Giannis play this past season for the Milwaukee Bucks should be excited that Thanasis is often refered to as “The Greak Freek 2.o”. He earned himself a spot on the 2nd all D-League defensive team, averaging 1.7 steals and blocks per game. He is an absolute athlete, standing at 6’7 with a 7 foot wing span, an 8’9 standing reach, and 39.5 vertical reach. He still is a bit raw, but he earned a spot on the Knicks roster after a solid season in the D-League.

Power Forward

Starter: Karl Anthony-Towns

Backup: Elton Brand

The Knicks Power Forward trio will be composed of one young player and a seasoned vet.

KYKernel

Karl Anthony-Towns very well could very well be the Knicks top lottery selection. The big man out of Kentucky is the most NBA ready prospect of the draft, and has a very high ceiling. He excels on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ball, averaging 19.5 PPG, 12.7 RPG, and 4.3 BPG per 40 minutes in his only year at Kentucky. While that sounds great, he still does have some questions. He fouls a lot, finishing with 6 foul outs last season. He also averaged 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes, and was known to be inconsistent with his performances at times. He absolutely has to gain more consistency to be a force in the NBA.

Their primary backup would be the aging, 36 year old Elton Brand but he wouldn’t exactly be brought in to be a force off the bench. Instead, his veteran leadership and locker room presence could go a long way with this Knicks team. His leadership was crucial for the Hawks this season, who finished with the second best record in the entire NBA. Head Coach Mike Budenholzer called Brand “the ultimate professional and a terrific leader.”

While he did just average 2.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG, he will be brought in for his off the court presence more then on the court. He should come for the veterans minimum, and Brand also said his final two choices for where to sign heading into this season were the Hawks and Knicks, and he made the wise choice that time. Their is no reason why he wouldn’t consider playing for his hometown Knicks again.

Update- While the Knicks did slip to four, Towns may still be available. Recent reports have said that the Timberwolves may prefer Jahlil Okafor, and the Lakers and Sixers may draft the two elite point guards, dropping KAT to the Knicks at 4. 

Center

Starter: Greg Monroe

Backup: Brandan Wright

Reserve: Cole Aldrich

According to reports, Greg Monroe to the Knicks is basically a done deal. While Monroe denies it, it appears that statement may be true. The Knicks are reportedly willing to offer him the max contract of 4 years, 60 million, and Monroe’s agent David Falk has close ties to the Knicks. He represented franchise legend Patrick Ewing, and close friend of Phil Jackson Michael

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Jordan. Monroe is coming off his best season yet, averaging 15.9 PPG and 10.2 RPG on 50% shooting. The Detroit big man also is a slick passer, averaging over 2 APG for four consecutive seasons, raising that number all the way to 3.5 in 2011. He also only is 24 years.

The biggest concern with Drummond is his defense. Opponents convert 2 pointers at a 2.4% higher clip when against Monroe compared to other big men. He also has yet to reach 35 wins in a season over the course of his 5 year career, and ranked 101st in opponents FG% at the rim, giving up 55.1% of those opportunities.

Lou Amundson is 4% better. Monroe also is purely a paint scorer, as he has no mid range game whatsoever. A staggering 93% of his shots come from less then 10 feet away. Only 27.3% of his pullup shots when in, and just a third of his catch and shoots. Dribbling also isn’t Monroe’s favorite thing to do. 69.2% of his shots came after 0-1 dribbles. All these statistics are from a season ago.

An ideal backup would be journeyman Brandan Wright. He started off his season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, where he was on pace to make NBA history through 27 games. He was shooting an unbelievable 74.8%. He eventually was shipped off to the Celtics in the blockbuster Rajon Rondo deal, before Boston then sent him to the Suns for Isaiah Thomas.

He finished the season with a 64.7% FG, and 7.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.3 BPG. Wright is a weak perimeter defender, allowing opponents to raise their FG% by a staggering 11.4% against him, and by 2.8% on all two pointers more than 15 feet out. He is formidable at close range though, with a -2.9% with all shots 10 feet or closer. On the offensive end, he is much like Monroe. 91% of his shots came from 10 feet or less, but he is capable with the catch and shoot as 52.9% of those chances went in.  Wright has been a solid backup center throughout his career, and the Knicks could greatly use some stability on their roster. Signing him would bring just that.

Last but not least, Cole Aldrich could be brought back for his third season in Manhattan. He averaged 5.5 RPG and PPG in 16 MPG, solid stats for a limited time on the court. He also showed he can be effective if forced into a bigger role, scoring more than 15 points four times, and double digit rebounding nights 11 times. He left a good final impression, scoring 24 points on 11-16 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds in the Knicks last game of the season against Detroit. He also had a 19 rebound game in December against the Trail Blazers. He also was surprisingly one of the Knicks best defenders a season ago, with a -3.7% opponent FG. He isn’t an elite defender by any means, but for his cost (about the minimum), he is absolutely worth it as a reserve player.

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