On Monday night, for the first time in almost two weeks, the New York Knicks won a basketball game.
Their 109-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons cracked a spring swoon that saw them drop eight of their last nine games that ended all dim hopes of a trip to the postseason.
While it might be difficult to for some to fathom, that difficult stretch might have done wonders for the organization and saved years of rebuilding.
After a March 1, win against the Orlando Magic, the Knicks improved to 25-36 and moved to within four games of the Detroit Pistons for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Given the weak standing of the East, it didn’t reflect much on the team’s actual success on floor.
To put things lightly, things have been dysfunctional given Carmelo Anthony’s deteriorating relationship with Phil Jackson, trade rumors, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah’s off-court shenanigans and the dreaded return of the triangle offense.
With some of the only redeemable assets coming in the form of younger talent like Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez, it is likely that this team will not stay together for long.
A source told ESPN’s Ian Begley that the Knicks will “remain committed,” to dealing Anthony in the offseason while Rose is set to hit free agency this summer.
An improbable and likely short trip to the postseason would not have resolved any of those matters.Even worse, the Knicks faced the possibility of missing out on the best talent within a loaded draft class.
For a team looking to rebuild, staying on the fringe of mediocrity in the East could have left the roster devoid of young, bona fide talent needed to build an actual contender around Porzingis.
The Knicks have remained in 12th place in the East despite posting a 4-10 record so far in March, but their chances of acquiring a premier talent in the draft improved.
According to Basketball-Reference.com’s pre-lottery calculations, the Knicks currently have an 82.7-percent chance of landing a pick between Nos. 4-7.
With Rose’s contract expiration looming; the Knicks have an opportunity to select a true floor general of a point guard for the future.
It makes Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr. and France’s Frank Ntilikina prime candidates assuming UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Washington’s Markelle Fultz will be off the board by then.
However, an NBA source told Marc Berman of the New York Post on Monday that the Knicks could take a chance on Kansas combo forward Josh Jackson.
The 6-foot-8 inch talent has not exhibited a pure scorer’s touch, but he has displayed above-average vision and stingy on-ball defense, which is something the Knicks are in need of.
His selection would make even more sense if the franchise found a way to move Anthony over the summer, but it could make re-signing Rose a priority to keep the backcourt afloat.
Regardless, the Knicks have an opportunity to recreate their 2015 draft success when they selected a gem in Porzingis with the No. 4 overall pick. With big-money veterans looking as though they will be phased out, Madison Square Garden could be looking at a youthful revolution in the near future.