You might not find many more peculiar seasons than the 2018-19 campaign of the New York Knicks.
Mired in a horrendous stretch that has seen them drop 13 of their last 14 games, the Knicks are one of the worst teams in basketball with a 9-29 record, which is still somewhat of a surprise.
It was expected that the Knicks would struggle through a sixth-straight sub-.500 season under new head coach David Fizdale, who would be without his main star Kristaps Porzingis. But after 38 games, a 19-win pace is embarrassing even for the franchise mired in mediocrity for much of the last 20 years.
Should this trend keep up, it will provide the team with its worst record since a 17-win 2014-15 season as the last half decade has been a nightmare for many Knicks fans.
Yet somehow, there is an overwhelming sense of hope for the future surrounding this franchise.
President Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have made the correct hire in Fizdale, who has won over the locker room and is helping players like Emmanuel Mudiay reach new heights in his career.
The management trio should be looking at this season as though it is one elongated tryout as the Knicks are on the cusp of being overhauled for the better. Hence the optimism surrounding the team.
With two max salary roster spots projected to be available this offseason, the Knicks are going to be major players in free agency. They look to be the frontrunners to land Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, which would immediately catapult the team toward contention in the Eastern Conference if he’s paired up with Porzingis. There is also the chance they are in play for a top-tier point guard like Kemba Walker.
Playing at Madison Square Garden and a big contract is incentive enough for plenty of stars to consider the Knicks. But the 2019 NBA Draft, which is just 11 days before the start of free agency, could help New York’s outlook even further.
As it stands, the Knicks are a game back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst record in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns sandwiched between the two Eastern Conference sides. As long as New York stays near the bottom of the standings, the more likely they’ll get a top-two pick in the draft.
The main prize this season will be Duke star forward Zion Williamson, who has electrified college basketball during his freshman season.
As one of the most athletic prospects the game has ever seen, Williamson is averaging 19.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game while using the NCAA as his own personal highlight reel. The 6-foot-7 talent is a freak around the rim thanks to a 45-inch vertical leap that has scouts salivating over the chance of drafting him.
Nabbing him would not only revitalize a downtrodden Knicks fan base, but it could help in the team’s free-agency pitches to lure some big names to the Big Apple.