Move over, Philadelphia 76ers: The New York Knicks are the new worst team in basketball.
Like most people who live in New York, I’m losing my wits over the Knicks. It's not that I'm a fan or emotionally invested in the team, but even as an impartial observer the Knicks' futility is driving me a little crazy. "How can the Knicks be this bad?" has become the second-most-asked question in Manhattan behind "How do I get to Times Square?"
Despite having the NBA's second-highest payroll and one of the game's most talented scorers, New York has dropped 15 of its last 16 games during the worst start in franchise history. The Knicks have racked up a league-high 25 losses, two more than the 76ers, who have been a laughingstock for the last two seasons. (New York has played four more games than Philadelphia.)
I've spent time wondering why the Knicks aren't playing better, but I think I finally have the answer: They aren't supposed to. Maybe president Phil Jackson, one of the most brilliant basketball minds ever, realized that New York would benefit a lot more from making the top of the lottery rather than the bottom of the playoff bracket. Maybe the man with 11 rings as a coach isn't interested in being mediocre but is keen on starting anew with a high draft pick and cap space this summer. And maybe, just maybe, he persuaded Carmelo Anthony to re-sign with the understanding that things had to get worse before they could get better.
For now, things can't get worse for the Knicks, who slip to No. 30 in this week's NBA Power Rankings. It's a gloomy time to be a Knicks supporter, but if it's all part of Jackson's grand plan, then the payoff could be worth it.*
*Having said that ... the first-time personnel boss could have no idea what he's doing.
Let’s take a look at where all 30 teams stand nearly two months into the season.
(All stats and records are through Dec. 21).