This December 25th, New York Knicks fans get to watch their team take on the Philadelphia 76ers in the first of a slew of NBA showcases. Since the offseason, the Knicks have had one crazy turn after the other, some of which coming nothing short of a Christmas miracle. Prior to Santa delivering gifts to all the good boys and girls of the world, Knicks fans have five gifts that came early this holiday season.
5. Phil Jackson is Out of the Knicks’ Front Office
Phil Jackson will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches of all time. However, the same cannot be said of his career as an executive. While serving as President of basketball operations Jackson ruffled more than a few feathers. His never ending desire to force the triangle offense caused constant frustration with no advancement into the playoffs. Ultimately he ended up pushing away Carmelo Anthony and almost ended up doing the same to Kristaps Porzingis. With the chance of losing both stars, the Knicks decided it would be better to part ways with Jackson altogether. With Jackson gone, the Knicks appointed Steve Mills as the head of basketball operations and dedicated themselves to a new direction. Ultimately, however, the Knicks ended up trading Carmelo Anthony anyway.
4. Carmelo Anthony has Moved On
Six seasons, three playoff appearances, a 62 point scoring game, and one scoring title; Carmelo Anthony wanted to win in New York. His hopes never came to fruition and by the end of his tenure with the Knicks, his frustration with the team bubbled far past the surface. By September, the Knicks shipped Anthony off to the Oklahoma City Thunder ushering in a new era in New York. While Anthony’s time with the team wasn’t always the most harmonious, he did leave on pretty good terms. If he had stayed, he might have let his frustration with the franchise drag the whole team down. Instead, his trading might have been exactly what the franchise needed to finally begin its long overdue rebuilding process.
3. All the New Talent at the Garden
By trading Anthony to the Thunder, the Knicks got Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott in exchange. Their names aren’t the only new ones on the Knicks roster this season. By picking Frank Ntilikina early in the first round, re-signing Tim Hardaway Jr., and adding Michael Beasley, the Knicks effectively hit the restart button. At first, New York was off to a bumpy start, but midway through October, the Knicks somehow found a way to start gelling as a team. The new additions brought in some much needed depth and much needed life to a dying franchise.
2. The Knicks are in Playoff Contention
At their lowest, the Knicks were at the bottom of the rankings. At their best, the Knicks were the fifth seed in the East. Currently, the team is eighth in the east, looking to climb back upwards. A surprise string of games out of Michael Beasley helped to propel the team in spite of an injured Kristaps Porzingis. With a few more Christmas miracles, the team may be able to continue their upward trajectory all the way into the postseason. Of course, none of that would be possible without the number one gift to Knicks fans this season.
Kristaps Porzingis has been on a tear this season, leading his team like a true MVP. On the season, Porzingis averages 24.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and two blocks a game. He has been active on both sides of the ball throughout the season, having a bevy of 30 plus point scoring games. In spite of some notable injuries, Porzingis has been great for his team and has stepped up as a leader. With all the craziness for the Knicks, Porzingis has been a force for his team. Along with his teammates, the 7’3 dynamo has made a playoff appearance a huge possibility for this team.
The Knicks are in a better position than they were last year. The new direction, the new faces, and the new mindset of Porzingis has been the spark of a new era for New York. With the All-Star Game around the corner, the Knicks are looking to keep going strong all the way to the playoffs. Maybe Santa has a Knicks playoff run in his bag after all.