AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 23. New York Knicks
As we transition into October -- the first month on the calendar with NBA basketball! -- AOL Sports is unleashing our team previews and power rankings for the upcoming season. Most recently, we had the Brooklyn Nets at No. 24.
Next up is their equally depressing crosstown rival.
On the heels of a franchise-worst 15-67 season, it'd be hard for the Knicks to top 2014-15's futility. As predicted, several pieces from that year's team have moved on -- though Phil Jackson didn't replace them with top-flight names as some predicted.
Still, Jackson commandeered a largely successful offseason. With the fourth overall pick in the draft, the Knicks ended up with now-20-year-old Kristaps Portzingis. The 7'3" Latvian import is incredibly lanky and undeveloped, even despite putting on 11 pounds of muscle over the summer -- he was listed at 230 pounds before the draft. Even still, his rare combination of skills offensively should help the Knicks in his rookie season.
The biggest offseason addition was former Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez, now playing in the same city as his twin brother Brook. Lopez will instantly help improve the team's defense near the rim and his offensive rebounding will be an asset that should be reflected in his teammates' numbers.
Arron Afflalo was also added, and he'll presumably slide into the starting lineup in the backcourt along with Jose Calderon. Afflalo is a veteran guard with a positive defensive reputation who's shot around 40 percent from three-point range over his career. His history with Carmelo Anthony played a role in his interest in New York over the summer, so the chemistry between those two should benefit New York.
But Anthony's return -- after missing the second half of last season recovering from knee surgery -- is by far the most important aspect to the Knicks' hopes in 2016. Even on a hobbled leg and with almost zero talent around him last year, Melo averaged 25 points per game in his first year operating in the triangle offense. Year 2 should have Knicks fans optimistic in terms of Anthony's production.
Jackson added a few more ancillary parts -- Kyle O'Quinn, Kevin Seraphin and Jerian Grant should also contribute solid minutes -- and there is a handful of young role players from last year's roster giving it a go this year as well. They'll undoubtedly be better than last year -- Anthony's return alone ensures that. But the playoffs are still lofty expectations for Derek Fisher's group.
That Anthony-Porzingis-Lopez frontline has the potential to be very good -- even great -- in time. But 2015-16 is likely one last transition year before Jackson's target date of legitimate contention.
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AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 24. Brooklyn Nets
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