Are the Knicks a Super Team? (Not So Fast)
The Knicks may not be a super team, but Derrick Rose’s comments aren’t as egregious as you’d think
The offseason is still in full swing and Olympic basketball is over, so naturally, the only thing left to do is wait for the season to start. Oh, and overanalyze quotes. Derrick Rose has made headlines during this summer for a few soundbites that some have deemed, uh…bold? Brazen? Outlandish? All of the above?
“[Our expectations are] high,” Rose said to NBA.com. “I mean, with these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams, and they’re trying not to build that many super teams, and Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that. … You’ve got Brandon (Jennings) who just signed for one year, he’s got to show why he’s there. I’ve got to show why I’m there. Joakim [Noah] has to show why he’s there. Everybody’s trying to prove themselves.” (via NBA.com)
Channeling his inner Donald Trump (you know, claiming that many people are saying something even though it’s not remotely true), Rose made the sweeping assessment that the Knicks are a super team on par with the Golden State Warriors. No one thinks the Knicks are a super team. I don’t. You don’t. Adam Silver doesn’t. Carmelo Anthony probably doesn’t. Frank Isola DEFINITELY doesn’t. But Rose does. He has a bit of a history of hyperbolic comments, but now that he’s in New York, his words are plastered on the back page of every tabloid. They are noticed more than they were in Chicago. When responding to the criticism, Rose didn’t back down:
Admittedly, it’s refreshing to see Rose stick to his guns. Athletes and celebrities are constantly backtracking on their words, saying they were misinterpreted or misconstrued. He clearly has the utmost confidence in this team, more than the vast majority of NBA fans and media do. Props to him for sticking by it.
Now here’s the problem with Rose’s comments: it creates expectations for this team that are unattainable. The majority of Knicks fans realize that while this team has some potential, it is still deeply flawed. They have some big names, and some big personalities, but the 5–10 spots in the East are tough. Teams like Indiana, Charlotte, and Detroit either remained about the same or improved, while Washington, Milwaukee, and Chicago are all looming. The Knicks are absolutely not a lock to make the playoffs. A healthy Knicks team could contend for a top four spot in the East, but as we’ve discussed before, the health is a huge if.
Some circles of Knicks fans read this comment from Rose and say, “yeah, we are definitely one of the best teams in the league!” (These fans, of course, aren’t true Knicks fans, because they aren’t cynical as all hell.) Any Knicks fan that believes something good will happen to this team is living in the damn Upside Down.
The reason why this quote from a few weeks ago has been thrown back to the forefront is because Rose doubled down a couple of days ago, saying this:
“Wait, you’re telling me Derrick Rose thinks the Knicks are going to go 82–0? That’s a riot! Does he know how hard it is to win in the NBA? This guy is crazy!”
Rose obviously, OBVIOUSLY, doesn’t think the Knicks can win every game. That’s ludicrous. He simply believes that this team is good enough to contend with each and every team in the NBA.
This is the kind of stuff that blows up when you’re on the Knicks. You say one little thing, and it gets molded into a headline that is strewn across social media for people to make memes about and roast the Knicks.
The funny thing is, Rose isn’t as wrong about all of this as everyone thinks. The Knicks kind of ARE a super team in a way. They’re a super team in the way that Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler were a “big three.” Carmelo and Tyson were still good players, but they were not at their peak. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Kristaps Porzingis are bigs names, and can still ball in their own right, but only one of them is still on his upswing.
Kevin Pelton’s RPM based win projection system pegged the Knicks for a 34–35 win season, which would put them at 13th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. There are a few reasons why that total is so low (RPM hates Rose), but regardless, these are the lowest of the low in terms of expectations for this team. Due to the pomp and circumstance of the offseason, Knicks fans seem to want more than just a playoff appearance…
This season is going to be one of the most intriguing seasons for this team in a while, but from where I’m sitting, I don’t think fans are in a position to demand a higher level playoff spot. I’m on the more optimistic end, but I am still hoping for the best and expecting the worst. I would sign for the above scenario, but I hope and believe that the team can outperform the same scenario.
Ultimately, Rose hasn’t said anything that most players don’t think to themselves all the time. But he’s on the Knicks now. And he’s a guy that people love to roast on social media for his colorful injury history. It’s a perfect storm. The Knicks are an easy team to poke fun at and generally ridicule. Fans and the media LOVE doing it. We love it too. It’s all part of being a team in New York. And while there may not be a true “Beast of the East” in New York, at least the squad seems confident.
— Matt Spendley, senior writer