Over the coming weeks, we at FanSided will do a team-by-team breakdown of each NBA franchise’s fantasy prospects for the 2017-18 season. Let’s continue today with the New York Knicks.
The New York Knicks must hate fantasy basketball owners. That’s the only viable explanation for why Carmelo Anthony remains on their roster with three weeks to go until training camp.
Anthony has been a fixture of trade rumors throughout the offseason, but the Knicks are still “not close” to a deal that would send him elsewhere, according to ESPN.com’s Ian Begley. Though the Houston Rockets have long lusted after him, “The Knicks have told people around the league recently that Houston simply doesn’t have anything that appeals to them,” Begley reported. (Who wouldn’t want the remaining three years and $61-plus million on Ryan Anderson’s contract? Silly Knicks.)
The ongoing Melodrama is clouding the fantasy outlook of New York’s other players, most notably Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. With Anthony gone, they would slide into clear roles as the Knicks’ No. 1 and 2 options on offense, but there’s still no word on when (or if) the team will actually pull the trigger on such a trade. If Anthony enters the season still in New York, fantasy owners must brace themselves for the possibility of a major midseason shakeup, which could affect the per-game output of whoever remains.
Which Knicks players should fantasy owners target with early-, mid- and late-round picks, and who should be left on the waiver wire? Let’s take a look.
Kristaps Porzingis, PF: If the Knicks do trade Anthony between now and the start of the season, it could turn Porzingis into a top-20 player. The Latvian sensation finished 35th on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues last season after averaging 18.1 points on 45.0 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.7 3-pointers and 1.5 assists in 32.8 minutes, but he ranked third (!) on the team in field-goal attempts per game. With Derrick Rose already gone and Anthony perhaps not far behind, the Knicks will have an enormous void to fill on offense, which could lead to Porzingis attempting upward of 20 shots per game. Barring an Anthony trade, it’s better to treat him as a mid- to late third-rounder, but fantasy owners should root for a conclusion to that saga before training camp kicks off.
Carmelo Anthony, SF: Barring a drastic surprise, fantasy owners have to assume Anthony will begin the season with the Knicks, but it’s necessary to price in the risk of a midseason trade. Even if he remains in New York all season, the days of him putting up early-round fantasy value appear to be a thing of the past. Anthony finished as the 60th-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues last year after averaging 22.4 points on 43.3 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 triples in 34.3 minutes per game, as his increase in 3-point volume from the year prior couldn’t make up for his decline in rebounds and assists. Anthony’s strongest category (points) happens to be the easiest to fill in fantasy, which is why he’ll struggle to live up to his early fifth-round average draft position on ESPN.com leagues. Look his way no earlier than the sixth round, as he could lose even more fantasy appeal if he winds up landing with the Rockets.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG: The Knicks presumably didn’t hand Hardaway Jr. a four-year, $71 million contract in free agency this offseason for him to collect cobwebs on the bench. Regardless of whether Anthony stays in New York or goes, THJ figures to post career-best numbers while serving as a primary offensive option alongside Porzingis. Hardaway only finished as the 141st-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues last year, but he’s poised to smash his averages of 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 treys. Anthony’s presence on the roster would perhaps stunt Hardaway’s ascendance at first, but once the Knicks finally move on from their All-Star, THJ would be cleared for mid-round-value takeoff.
Willy Hernangomez, C: With Joakim Noah poised to enter the season serving out the remaining 12 games of his 20-game PED suspension, Hernangomez may grab the starting gig and never look back. After the All-Star break last season, the big Spaniard started 19 of his final 23 games, chipping in 11.5 points on 51.4 percent shooting, 9.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks in just 24.2 minutes to finish as the 103rd-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues over that span. Unless Noah returns to his former Defensive Player of the Year form after his suspension, Hernangomez should remain a fixture in New York’s starting lineup, giving him sneaky top-100 upside. Give him a look in the 11th round of a standard 10-team league.
Courtney Lee, SG: In theory, Hardaway Jr.’s arrival wouldn’t seem to bode well for Lee, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Knicks in the summer of 2016. Once Anthony departs, though, New York could feasibly use the two swingmen interchangeably in its starting lineup. Lee finished as the 94th-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues last year after averaging 10.8 points on 45.6 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 triples and 1.1 steals in 31.9 minutes, as he turned the ball over just 69 times all year. Lee’s owners may need to brace for a rocky start until the Knicks resolve the Anthony situation, but he once again could be a top-100 option depending on what New York ultimately receives in return for Anthony.
Ramon Sessions, PG
Frank Ntilikina, SG
Ron Baker, SG
Chasson Randle, SG
Lance Thomas, SF
Michael Beasley, SF
Mindaugas Kuzminskas, PF
Kyle O’Quinn, PF
Nigel Hayes, PF
Joakim Noah, C
Sleeper: Willy Hernangomez
Bust: Carmelo Anthony
Other team breakdowns
Atlanta Hawks | Boston Celtics | Brooklyn Nets | Charlotte Hornets | Chicago Bulls | Cleveland Cavaliers | Dallas Mavericks | Denver Nuggets | Golden State Warriors | Houston Rockets | Indiana Pacers | Los Angeles Clippers | Los Angeles Lakers | Memphis Grizzlies | Miami Heat | Milwaukee Bucks | Minnesota Timberwolves | New Orleans Pelicans
All average draft position info via FantasyPros. All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues.