- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the most part, predictions made in July aren't worth the paper -- or the URL -- they're published on.
Last season, many thought the Celtics would finish atop the Atlantic Division (they finished third). Others believed the Thunder or Lakers would win the Western Conference (OKC didn't make it out of the second round of the playoffs; the Lakers didn't make it out of the first).
The point is, things can change greatly between July and the following June. Injuries, chemistry issues, coaching changes, ect. can all impact a team's ability to reach preseason expectations.
With all that being said, it's still fun at this point in the calendar to guess where teams will finish.
So our buddy from ESPN.com, Tom Haberstroh, has put together Power Rankings for the Eastern Conference, with an expected order of finish for each team.
Like many others, Haberstroh sees the Knicks as the fifth-best team in the East.
That would be a steep drop from last season, when New York finished second in the conference.
Here's Haberstroh's take on New York:
It's hard to figure out how the Knicks will improve on their 2012-13 campaign that gave them a No. 2 seed and an exit in the East semis. J.R. Smith had major knee surgery that will table him for 3-4 months, Andrea Bargnani won't help their porous defense and newcomer Metta World Peace is a 33-year-old coming off knee surgery.
If the Knicks consider Amar'e Stoudemire a $22 million sunk cost and commit to playing Carmelo Anthony at the 4 full time, they could make some more noise in the East. But this looks like a big step back for the Knicks.
For the Haberstroh's breakdown of the rest of the Eastern Conference (highly recommended), click here (insider).
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
18dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford