To say the Knicks have nowhere to go but up after a disastrous 2014-15 season isn’t entirely accurate. It’s pretty darn close, though.
Fortunately, they should be better than the team that went a franchise-worst 17-65 a season ago. Carmelo Anthony will, presumably, be healthy for most of the year. The talent around Melo is superior, too.
Does that make the Knicks postseason contenders? That remains to be seen. Here are three questions entering the 2015-16 season, which starts tonight in Milwaukee against the Bucks, that must be answered before the Knicks can start thinking about the playoffs.
Can the Knicks play defense?
They sure couldn’t a year ago when they were dead last in margin of victory. The offseason additions of center Robin Lopez and shooting guard Arron Afflalo will help a great deal on that end of the floor without crippling the Knicks on offense. But that’s just a start. They must work as a unit to turn things around.
Who is the No. 2 scoring option?
More than likely, this will be support by committee. But someone is bound to be second on the team in scoring, behind Anthony of course. Odds are that will be the veteran Afflalo, a solid midrange and long-distance shooter. But if there’s a dark horse to claim this role, it could be rookie Kristaps Porzingis by year’s end.
Is Melo still elite?
Basketball is a young man’s game. Anthony is 31 years old, so he’s not exactly long in the tooth. He is, however, four years older than the average player and coming off a season in which injury limited him to 40 games played — a career low. He’s very likely an All-Star, pending good health, but it remains to be seen if he can lift this team on his own.