The NBA playoffs are underway in Orlando. Clearly, this is a very different playoff experience for teams playing in the bubble in Orlando. Obviously, there are no fans in attendance, and no home games. Well, unless you count the Orlando Magic’s improbable upset as a home game. Unfortunately, as previously discussed, the 2020 NBA playoffs do not feature the New York Knicks. Yet, it does include several of their former players. Had the Knicks held onto these players would they be playing in Orlando? This is the starting five of former New York Knicks, still playing in the bubble.
Point Guard – Trey Burke, Dallas Mavericks
As a Knick: Over two seasons, Trey Burke played in only 69 games for the Knicks. Yet, Burke did make the most of his limited time in New York. Mostly coming off the bench, he averaged over 12 points per game, despite playing only 20 minutes a game. In 2019, the Knicks sent Burke to Dallas, along with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis.
In the Bubble: During the eight seeding games, Burke averaged a familiar 12 points per game. Impressively, in the Mavericks’ game two upset of the Clippers, Burke made key contributions. He scored 16 points off the bench, while playing more minutes because Luka Doncic got into quick foul trouble.
Shooting Guard – Tim Hardaway Jr. Dallas Mavericks
As a Knick: In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Knicks selected Tim Hardway Jr. with the 24th overall pick. For two seasons, Hardaway Jr. had a minor bench role with the Knicks before signing with Atlanta. However, after a short stint with the Hawks, Hardaway Jr. returned to New York. During his second run in blue and orange, Hardaway Jr. became a starter and averaged better than 18.7 points per game. In 2019, the Knicks, traded Hardaway Jr. to Dallas along with Burke and Kristaps Porzingis,
In the Bubble: Hardaway Jr. has settled in as a role player for the Mavericks. He is the beneficiary of defenses collapsing on superstar Luka Doncic. Because of the extra attention given to Luka, Hardaway Jr. has found plenty of open shots. During the eight seeding games, Hardaway Jr. averaged over 15 points per game in just over 28 minutes per game. Now, he faces the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.
Small Forward – Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers
As a Knick: In 2011, the Denver Nuggets sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks in part of a block bluster trade. Anthony, affectionately known as Melo, became the Knicks star and a fan favorite in New York. Melo led the Knicks to three straight playoff appearances from 2011-2013. Unfortunately for Knick fans, the team has not returned to the postseason. Melo still holds the Knicks record for points in a game, with 62.
In the Bubble: Melo has accepted his role as an additional scorer for Portland. Lillard and McCollum handle the ball and run the offense, while Melo is able to remain a threat from outside. Contributing 16.5 points per game, Anthony shot 15-for-32 from beyond the arc, in eight seeding games. Surprisingly, at the ripe age of 36, Melo played the fourth most minutes of all players in the bubble. Now, Melo and the Blazers face off with the top seeded Lakers in round one of the playoffs.
Power Forward – Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder
As a Knick: The Knicks drafted Danilo Gallinari with the sixth overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. Only with the Knicks for two and half seasons, Gallinari established himself as a great three point shooter. In his brief Knicks career, Gallinari shot 37.7% from deep. Ultimately, in 2011, New York sent Gallinari to Denver as part of a package to receive Melo.
In the Bubble: During the eight seeding games, Thunder coach Billy Donovan limited Gallinari to a little over 20 minutes per game. Gallinari still provides a great threat as an outside shooter. On the season, he is averaging 18.7 points per game and shooting 40.5% from three. For now, Gallinari will look to use his size advantage against the Rockets, in the Thunder’s first round playoff matchup.
Center – Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
As a Knick: With the 4th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, the Knicks surprised many by drafting the Latvian Kristaps Porzingis. Immediately, the New York fans welcomed him, as only New York fans can… with a lot of booing. However, Porzingis quickly turned those frowns upside down. His ability to shoot threes and average two blocks per game turned doubters into believers. Porzingis earned the nickname “the Unicorn“, because you had to see him to believe it. At the age of 22, Porzingis became an all star before tearing his ACL. Sadly for Knick fans, Porzingis demanded a trade rather than return to New York. Eventually, he landed in Dallas.
In the Bubble: Finally at full health, Porzingis has been playing out of this world in the bubble. Porzingis scored 30.5 points per game and hauled in 9.5 rebounds, both of which exceed his career averages. The combination of Luka and Porzingis will be the centerpiece of the Dallas organization for many years to come. Currently, Porzingis is tied one game a piece with the Clippers in the opening round of the playoffs.
Sixth Man – Jamal Crawford, Brooklyn Nets
As a Knicks: Jamal Crawford has became a legendary NBA journeyman. He has played for nine NBA teams over 20 seasons. Impressively, his longest tenure as a starter, was in New York. Over five seasons, Crawford averaged 17.6 points per game for the Knicks. Notably, in 2007, he dropped a career high 52 points against the defending champion Miami Heat. Crawford is the only player in NBA history with a 50 point performance for four different teams.
In the Bubble: Crawford only managed to play six minutes before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. However, Crawford makes this list on credentials alone. The three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winner, is a man, he’s 40. Hopefully, Crawford is able to rejoin the Nets as they take on the Raptors in round one of the playoffs.
Follow me on twitter and let me know how many games this starting five of former Knicks would win.