Sportress of Blogitude

Charles Barkley: ‘I’m picking the Knicks to make the playoffs’

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Charles Barkley arguably went out on quite the limb Monday by predicting the New York Knicks will be among the eight Eastern Conference teams in the postseason picture come season’s end.

“I’m picking the Knicks to make the playoffs,” he said via Philly.com.

The outspoken and often provocative Barkley made the comments on Monday during a conference call with reporters promoting TNT’s NBA coverage.

Barkley justified his interesting prediction that the Knicks, who only won 17 games last season, will reach the playoffs by pointint out how Phil Jackson has “done a good job getting quality NBA players,” suggesting the acquisitions of Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant via the draft supplemented the free agent signings of Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams and Arron Afflalo.

“Porzingis, he’s obviously a young kid with tremendous upside . . . ,” Barkley said. “Lopez is a legitimate NBA player, Arron Afflalo is an NBA player, Grant is an NBA player, you got Derrick Williams – they’ve got actual NBA players.”

Barkley of course likes to stir the pot when it comes to putting his sometimes controversial opinions out there, but it’s surprising the respected analyst has so much faith in the Knicks’ ability of making the playoffs. After all, it was only last January that he threatened to quit working at TNT if the network aired another Knicks game during the season. Although it is easier to make the postseason in the weaker Eastern Conference.

It remains to be seen if Jackson’s retooling of the roster and Carmelo Anthony’s supposed commitment to being a better leader will translate into enough wins for the Knicks to crack the postseason. Anthony, for what it’s worth, scoffed at a projection the Knicks were only going to win 27 games this season. It looks like he’s got a backer in Barkley.