The New York Knicks would be the talk of the league if they are lucky enough to snag Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors.
Let us imagine that the New York Knicks finally add a marquee free agent to their young nucleus. After years of lackluster free agency signings for New York, they are able to land a superstar player that can help lead the franchise back to relevancy.
Kevin Durant meets with the Knicks in early July and is impressed with their pitch and is intrigued with the idea of playing in Madison Square Garden. During the end of the first week in July after meeting with a handful of other teams, Durant announces that he is taking his talents to the Big Apple.
The question is, if the blue and orange are unable to sign any other star free agents besides KD, would New York still be a contender to reach the NBA Finals?
First off, let’s take a look at who the Knicks’ competition would be for the Eastern Conference crown next season. The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are two young, up-and-coming teams that will likely retain most of their cores.
However, for the other contenders in the East, their future is not as clear. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics will both enter this summer with a lot of uncertainty. Their franchise stars, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving, will both be entering unrestricted free agency with rumors circulating that they could certainly leave their respective teams.
With that being said, the Eastern Conference could be wide open next season, considering a few of the top teams could lose some of their most talented players.
Kevin Durant has the potential to have an MVP-caliber year next season if he decides to play for the New York Knicks. Playing with a supporting cast that does not consist of four other All-Stars means that Durant will be relied upon heavily to create offense for New York.
Fortunately for the Knicks, KD would have no problem scoring more often if need be. He is one of the best offensive talents the league has ever seen. Durant averaged 26 points per game this past season with the talent-filled Golden State Warriors, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility to suggest that he could easily average over 30 points per game in New York.
Durant’s mere presence on the court would allow the Knicks to get more open shots. His passing ability is massively underrated, as he averaged a career-high 5.9 assists in 34.6 minutes per game this season. Particularly during his seasons in Golden State, he has improved greatly as a playmaker, though it helps that he has played with elite talent.
Players like Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, and Damyean Dotson would have a lot of wide open catch-and-shoot triples with Durant in the fold. For New York to have a chance at making a deep playoff run with this group, the other Knicks besides Kevin Durant would have to consistently knock down open shots.
The Knicks with Kevin Durant would likely be a defensive-minded team. Head coach David Fizdale has done a great job of preaching the importance of bringing effort and energy every night, and this young Knicks team has seemed to embrace him.
The team is full of scrappy players who play hard on the defensive end, most notably Mitchell Robinson. The promising 21-year-old big man averaged 2.4 blocks in just 20.6 minutes per game off the bench. It would make sense for the Knicks to start Robinson alongside Durant for much-needed rim protection and rebounding.
Durant knows what it takes to be a great defensive team and as an excellent defender, he could give valuable advice to the younger Knicks on how to be locked in and cohesive on the defensive end.
The addition of Kevin Durant to the New York Knicks would instantly make them a contender in the Eastern Conference. If guys like Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and whoever they select with the third pick contribute consistently and take some pressure off of Durant, this team could be very dangerous.
It is very possible that this group could go through some growing pains as many of the players would have to adjust to playing different roles, but they would have the potential to compete for a spot in the NBA Finals for years to come.