Coming out of NBA All-Star weekend, the New York Knicks (19-18) are a legit playoff team.
A sentence like that has not been written in nearly a decade. In other words: the Knicks have been bad for a long time.
But 2021 has brought optimism to Manhattan. A new coach, a bonafide All-Star and a solid core of young ballers have changed the losing culture inside the locker room at the world’s most famous arena.
If the playoffs started today, the Knicks would be the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed and matched against the Boston Celtics in a first-round series.
NJ Bookies Showing New York Knicks Some Love
New Jersey sportsbooks are respecting the Knicks’ playoff chances, even if the team’s title hopes are slim. New York was a longshot to even make the postseason a month ago. On Feb. 8, FanDuel Sportsbook listed the Knicks at +440 to make the playoffs.
As of Monday, FanDuel had the Knicks at -110 to be one of the final eight teams in the East, after play-in games.
The bad news for the Knicks? NJ sportsbooks believe NYK (+13000) is the least likely of five teams to win the Atlantic Division. The Brooklyn Nets (-190), Philadelphia 76ers (+155), Celtics (+3000) and Toronto Raptors (+6500) all have better odds to win the division this year.
The Canyon of Heroes parade will have to wait
Betting on the Knicks to win an NBA Championship in 2021 is basically a lottery ticket for gamblers. The Knicks are +19000 to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy in July.
The Los Angeles Lakers (+280) and the Nets (+300) sit atop FanDuel’s NBA 2021 Finals Champion board. The Los Angeles Clippers (+550), Milwaukee Bucks (+750) and Utah Jazz (+850) round out the top five.
The odds of the Knicks even representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals are long, too. New York has the ninth-best odds (+6500) of winning the conference, behind all four division rivals as well as the Bucks, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.
Those were the days
The last time the Knicks made the playoffs was the 2012-13 season. Mike Woodson was head coach, with All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler leading the team to 54 wins, a division title and the second seed in the East. The Knicks won a playoff series that year, the first time that had happened since a Conference Finals appearance in the 1999-2000 season.
The Knicks have not had a winning season since.
New York Knicks bring “D” back to MSG
New HC Tom Thibodeau has given his team an identity in 2021. The Knicks play defense (again), holding opponents to a league-best 104.4 points per game.
Julius Randle is emerging into an underrated star, too. In his second year on Broadway, Randle is averaging 23.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He currently has the second-best odds (+480) to win Most Improved Player. Randle’s chances of winning an MVP (+25000) are a stretch.
RJ Barrett, the team’s first-round draft pick last year, is the team’s second-leading scorer. Barrett and Randle are the only two Knicks to play in all 37 of the team’s games this year.
Mid-season addition Derrick Rose (+5500) is a contender for the league’s Sixth Man award. Rose won the 2011 MVP on a Chicago Bulls team coached by Tibbs.