After last night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, our beloved New York Knickerbockers are 30–48 on the season, with just four games left to go. (The final one of the season is next Wednesday night against New Jersey.) The Knicks have been undeniably more entertaining and likable this season, and even if they lose their last four, coach Mike D’Antoni will have inspired a seven-game improvement on last year. (If they win all four, they’ll have the team’s best record since 2003-04. Do you realize the Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2000-01?)
So, technically all’s well, right? Even though D’Antoni — along with Nate Robinson, David Lee, and the gang — has improved morale around the Garden, it’s up for debate whether the extra wins were worth anything.
Yesterday, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, the monstrous, versatile, dominant Naismith Award winner for college basketball player of the year, surprised no one by declaring his eligibility for the NBA Draft. Griffin is exactly the type of guy who would be a perfect post player for the Knicks, because he’s almost as fast as he is powerful: Imagining him playing alongside LeBron James in D’Antoni’s offense would make any hoops fan drool. But now, thanks to all that “improvement,” Griffin’s appearance here would be almost as unlikely as LeBron’s.
Currently, the Knicks have the eighth-worst record in the NBA, which, while not exactly impressive, is good enough to push them way down the pecking order for the NBA Draft Lottery next month. ESPN’s Chad Ford runs an NBA Mock Draft Lottery that gives the Knicks a 2.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick. That’s about where the Bulls were last year when they leaped up to grab Derrick Rose, but those numbers aren’t going to come up often. Right now, Ford has the Knicks ending up with someone like Arizona State’s James Harden, Blake’s Oklahoma teammate Willie Warren, or even Davidson sharpshooter Stephen Curry. Nice players, but none would change the direction of the franchise. None of those guys are Patrick Ewing … or LeBron. So, we continue to wait and see if he wants to come here, wondering whether some of those mid-season wins, ultimately, were really worth it.