Knicks 2019-20 Season Win Total: How Will the Young Talent Fit Together?

Knicks 2019-20 Season Win Total: How Will the Young Talent Fit Together? article feature image
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Photo credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mitchell Robinson

  • Prior to the 2019-20 NBA season, Matt Moore (@HPBasketball) analyzes each team's win total odds.
  • Below, Matt provides a case for the over and under + gives his confidence rating for the New York Knicks' win total this year.

Check out this post for updated season win total odds and this post for my other 29 season win total picks.

All odds as of Friday. Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

New York Knicks Win Total

The Case for the Over (26.5, PointsBet)

They pass the “NBA-caliber players” test (determined by whether the players will probably be in the league in 18 months) … by a narrow margin, but still.

Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock are all definitely in the league in 18 months. (Note: Rookies like RJ Barrett are exempt from this test because you simply never know with rookies.)

That’s a seven-man rotation of NBA-caliber guys.

Frank Ntilikina’s FIBA run has generated excitement that he’s ready for a leap. Barrett brings the upside of a true franchise star who can score, facilitate and make a difference for his team.

Let’s think about David Fizdale, who helped design so many great defenses in Miami, with Mitchell Robinson as his rim protector, with Ntilikina, Morris and Gibson helping fill the gaps. They have length and athleticism on the defensive end, and they should be pretty decent at rebounding given they have 11,000 big men.

There are so many guys who could have a breakout year, too. Dennis Smith Jr. was wildly hyped his rookie year only to be thrown aside for Luka Doncic. Bobby Portis has big scoring potential. Julius Randle is an underrated short roll and transition passer and a bully inside. If any of those guys or Barrett or Kevin Knox surprise, that might lift them to the mid-20s and in range of the over.

They have the 23rd-toughest strength of schedule by Vegas odds after the All-Star break, meaning they could sneak up on teams resting or tanking that back half of the year.

Here’s the big one: The Knicks have the most true rest-advantage games (via Positive Residuals) with 16. If they go .500 in true rest-advantage games, they would have to go just 19-47 (28.7% win percentage) in all the other games to clear the over. That seems doable.

The Case for the Under (28, Caesars)

Just gonna go ahead and throw out there that the Knicks have gone under in 11 of the last 15 years, seven of the last 10 and four of the last five seasons. Bear in mind that their average win total the last five years was 33.4; the lowest was 28.5, and they went under… by 11.5 games.

Payton has bounced around to several teams already, fresh off his rookie contract. Randle was let loose from the Lakers when they desperately needed him and then had a down year in New Orleans. Portis can get some buckets but has never shown real capacity for defense. Gibson is over the hill by maybe a season.

I’m not an RJ Barrett guy. His college statistical profile in terms of efficiency showed a lot of concerns, and the film study makes the assist rate even more questionable. He projects a little more as a black hole gunner than a do-it-all playmaker, which the Knicks desperately need.

They have so many power forwards you have to assume they trade one or two before season’s end, but do they trade the best one they have or the second-best one they don’t need? Or the third one because they’re doing well? There’s uncertainty, for sure, with what the roster will be at the end of the year.

The Knicks were the one to make the big play for Marcus Morris after his contract year, which seems like a dangerous proposition.

They had the worst offense in the league last year and the fifth-worst defense. They are returning Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson, Ntilikina and Smith Jr. from that team, along with Robinson (who is actually a great defender in the making).

Note: I like all those players. I do not like all those players, together, on the Knicks.

They have a top-10 schedule from December through January — the toughest part of the season that can send a team into a tailspin before they start tanking for the draft.

The Verdict

  • The pick: Under 28
  • Confidence: 7 out of 10

Knicks fans desperately want us to forget the fact that it’s the Knicks and judge this team off a veteran roster with good young talent vs. a low number.

OK, sure, but when you do all that and it comes pretty close to the actual number, and then you remember “it’s the Knicks,” that tilts things. I do not like their team structure; I am not sold by their top-end talent. I like a lot of their players, but I do not like them together in their respective roles in terms of best player, second-best player, etc.

This team remains bad, even among East teams, and is closer to 20 wins than 30 going in.