Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Knicks [Print without images]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Opening Tip: Over or under 37 wins?

By Ian Begley

I don't gamble on sports, but if I did, I'd take the over on the Knicks winning 37 games this season.

Why did I mention 37 wins?

Because that's how ESPN.com's SCHOENE system predicts the season will go for New York. They see the Knicks going 37-45 this year and finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference. If you're scoring at home, that would be 17 fewer wins than they had last season, which is a monumental regression.

With all due respect to SCHOENE, I have to take issue with a few points raised by the prediction system. Don't get me wrong, SCHOENE and ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh spell out a laundry list of issues that could plague the Knicks. And I happen to agree with most of them. But I don't think they will cost the Knicks 17 wins. And that's taking into account improvements others in the Eastern Conference have made.

As SCHOENE points out, New York probably won't make or take as many threes as they did last season, when they set NBA records in both categories. But I don't think the impact of the the loss of Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Chris Copeland will as earth-shattering as SCHOENE projects.

Let's not forget, Kidd struggled with his shot from late January through the end of the playoffs. Copeland was used sparingly last season, so he wasn't, to borrow a phrase from Mike Woodson, a "big piece of the puzzle" for the Knicks. And Novak played 20 minutes per game in the regular season, averaging 1.8 3-point makes a night. But he logged just 5.6 minutes in the playoffs and took a total of 13 shots in 12 games.

Also, Woodson has committed early on to playing Carmelo Anthony at small forward rather than power forward. That's not to say Anthony is stuck at small forward this season, though.

Anthony himself said that if things don't work out well for the Knicks while he's at small forward, he's prepared to go back to power forward, where he led the league in scoring last year. That means if it the Bargnani-Anthony pairing doesn't work, there will probably be a lineup shift that allows Anthony to go back to power forward.

Lastly, it's 100 percent accurate to say that the Knicks last year won 55.2 percent of their games with Amar'e Stoudemire in the lineup and 70.4 percent with him out, as Haberstroh points out. But judging by the way things are going for Stoudemire in the preseason, I don't think Stoudemire will have a major impact on the 2013-14 season.

Which brings us to our question: How many games do you think the Knicks will win this season? More or less than 37?

UP NOW:
J.R. Smith has no problem coming off the bench for the Knicks this season, but his preference is to start. As we discussed above, ESPN.com's SCHOENE system has projected that the Knicks will win 37 games this season.

Also, Woodson hints that Amar'e Stoudemire may be limited to 20 minutes per game this season and says that Iman Shumpert will start at shooting guard on Thursday.

Lastly, we take a look at how tough it could be for the Knicks to crack the top 10 in defensive efficiency this season.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Knicks will practice again on Wednesday as they get ready for Thursday's exhibition against the Wizards in Baltimore.

QUESTION: How many games do you think the Knicks will win this season? More or less than 37?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.