Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:00 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Isiah's do-or-die season

Knicks

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the New York Knicks finish in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
The Knicks are loaded with talent, but Isiah Thomas has his work cut out for him because the team lacks leadership and chemistry. Expect more tinkering with the roster as the season progresses.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Eddy Curry, Channing Frye and Jamal Crawford will shine fairly bright. Stephon Marbury's game will change and his numbers will drop, and he'll play within himself as he realizes he's getting older. There will be a large drop in turmoil, and the Knicks will be fun to watch.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
Isiah Thomas is Houdini when in bleak situations, disappearing and then re-emerging in a situation even sweeter than the one he had. With the Knicks being unsalvageable and his exit inevitable, I can't wait to see where he pops up next.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
They won't be as bad as last season's pitiful crew. The team has more talent than it showed, and Isiah Thomas will find a way to get it out of them. Still, expecting any more than 35 wins from this club seems like a stretch.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
Isiah's last stand should see the Knicks hang on the fringes of playoff contention, as their misshapen roster is nonetheless too talented to avoid winning 35 games or so. And I won't be shocked if Channing Frye blows up this year.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
Only one thing matters: Are Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Jamal Crawford the remix of Isiah, Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson? Most say no. I think maybe. But even if they make the playoffs, this is Zeke's last year in basketball.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
They have a number of "talented" guards (Marbury, Crawford, Francis) but they lack leadership and a winning mentality. If Larry Brown couldn't coach this group, why would anyone believe Isiah Thomas can?
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
Chemistry will be greatly improved, scoring will not be a problem and they'll win at least 10 games more. But their weak defense (25th in field-goal defense) will again kill hopes of the playoffs.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
The future of this team is the frontcourt pairing of Channing Frye and David Lee, not the backcourt duo of Francis and Marbury. A lack of defensive effort will be their downfall and will cost Isiah Thomas his job.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
I don't doubt that coach Thomas, Marbury and Francis, with their reputations all at stake, can make a run at .500, like many pundits expect. But I can't call them playoff material with at least nine East teams I like better.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 3.8 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 12.2 | Standings


Raise The Titanic
Thomas
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
After last year's Knicks sank unceremoniously to the bottom, Isiah Thomas put himself in charge of coaching the team he put together like a fantasy roster. The only way to go is up. Right. Um, right?


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Stephon Marbury
Point Guard
6-2 | 205
After decade-worst stats, can he get his swagger back?
Steve Francis
Shooting Guard
6-3 | 200
Here's one Franchise not likely to defer to its Star(bury).
Jared Jeffries
Small Forward
6-11 | 240
Out until December with broken wrist; fill-in wings can't match his D.
Channing Frye
Power Forward
6-11 | 248
Broke out as a rookie, even with shackles on minutes.
Eddy Curry
Center
6-11 | 285
No heart woes and a fitter body. Bring on the heavy lifting.
Bench: Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Jalen Rose ... someone's not playing. David Lee will get burn, though; he brings a scarce quality: D.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Jamal Crawford
Player efficiency rating
projection: 15.16
vs. NBA avg.: +0.16
Knicks profiles

Scouting report: Crawford has exceptional quickness for his size and some great shake-and-bake moves that allow him to get by defenders. He tends to fall in love with his jumper instead of taking opponents to the rim, which is why his field-goal percentage has been poor his entire career. He needs to develop his midrange game further to take advantage of his ability to beat the first defender, and like most of the Knicks' other guards, he needs to see the floor better.

Crawford has long arms and can get steals, but he's playing far below his potential at the defensive end of the floor. He has good quickness and length, but his effort level is inconsistent at best and his lack of strength can be exposed by bigger shooting guards. The Knicks defended worse with him on the court, which is quite a statement, since New York's other guards weren't exactly All-Defense candidates.

2006-07 outlook: Crawford figures to take on the same role he did last season, splitting time between both guard spots and providing offense off the bench. He'll also be waiting in the wings as an insurance policy if the Marbury-Francis marriage proves unworkable. He's one of the few Knicks who is in the proper role for his talents, and he's not even that grossly overpaid. Look for him to blithely put up his 15 a game while the circus goes on around him.


Stephon's Long Nightmare Over
Marbury
Scott Wintrow/Getty Images
Larry's gone! Hatin' on Stephon Marbury is no longer in season. Got a new shoe line, too. Feel free to celebrate by bringing back the high pick-and-roll, Isiah.


SportsNation Speaks
Hey buddy, who you laughing at? Well, SportsNation tends to get a little loopy when considering the state of affairs in MSG.

Which word best describes the Knicks?
49.6% Joke
33.5% Improving
16.9% Stagnant

Vote: Knicks in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Knicks

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Knicks' logo on your chest?

The only way I'm getting the Knicks' logo tatted on my chest is if Isiah signs Darius Miles to an obscene amount of money.

That would signal the glorious reunion of D-Miles and Q-Rich -- whose head-pound celebration is one of the coolest things ever -- while also guaranteeing the Knicks' reaching a whole new level of mediocrity.

My philosophy is if you're going to fail, why not fail in spectacular fashion? I'm also curious to see if Isiah could be the first person to be kicked out of the Hall of Fame for his off-court ineptitude.

Marcel Mutoni | SLAMonline.com



Coach's Corner

ISIAH THOMAS COACHING FILE
Experience: 3 years
Record: 131-115
Playoffs: 5-10
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

Isiah Thomas should win more games than Larry Brown simply because he's not Brown -- and he'll let his guys play to their strengths.

But letting guards Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson run wild could prove damaging to the development of New York's young, talented frontcourt.

So Thomas must have a deft touch in opening the game up yet maintaining some control. If he fails early, we're looking at a complete train wreck.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Depth. The one thing the Knicks have going for them is they have a lot of bodies. In the grind of an 82-game season, few teams are better positioned to withstand injuries and foul trouble than this one.

New York goes at least two deep at every position, with the only iffy spot being shooting guard -- they're basically playing two converted point guards at that spot.

More Hollinger Knicks analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Marbury
Marbury

Sleeper: Was there any Knicks player happier to see Larry Brown go than Stephon Marbury?

Not only that, but Marbury gets along well with Isiah Thomas and will have a bounce-back season because he'll be able to do his thing without worrying about the consequences.

Bust: Steve Francis just didn't fit last season with the Knicks. It's not that surprising, considering the Knicks already had too many shoot-first point-guard types before he came to town.

And although Isiah on the bench will help Francis, he won't put up nearly the same numbers we had grown accustomed to in his first six seasons in the league.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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