New York Knicks

The Knicks’ breakout player will be…

The Knicks’ breakout player will be RJ Barrett. There are a few breakout candidates in New York, from third-year point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina to sophomore big man Mitchell Robinson. But the No. 3 overall pick gets the nod here, if only because head coach David Fizdale will give him the most opportunity (He played Barrett a mind-boggling 39 minutes in the Knicks’ preseason opener.) Barrett has the passing and rebounding chops to put up a couple triple-doubles and put his name on the NBA map, even as a rookie.

It all goes wrong if…

It all goes wrong if James Dolan has Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai thrown out of MSG. Hey, it could happen! Dolan’s theatrics aside, Fizdale is the one with the power to screw things up for the Knicks. The team added a ton of decent veterans this summer, but they probably won’t keep the Knicks in the playoff race for very long. Still, it’s easy to see a scenario where Fizdale prioritizes the vets over his stable of young, developing talent. A year of lost development would truly be the worst-case scenario for New York.

What we’ll be saying about the Knicks at the end of the season…

What we’ll be saying about the Knicks at the end of the season…hopefully, nothing. The Knicks are only ever in the national spotlight when they screw up. This isn’t a playoff team, and shouldn’t be in the larger NBA conversation whatsoever, like most bottom-feeding clubs. Let the organization, and their fans, suffer through another losing season in peace.

Final prediction

Vegas has the Knicks pegged at 27.5 wins. Can they top that number? Sure. Should they be focused on winning as many games as possible? Probably not. The real key here is David Fizdale. If he sells out in pursuit of wins over development, they might approach 30 wins. But how would that help the franchise moving forward? The safe bet here is that the Knicks play the kids, trade some vets for picks at the deadline, and lose a whole bunch of games. Never bet the over on the Knicks, friends.

Final prediction: 20-62

Joe Flynn (@ChinaJoeFlynn)