It still doesn't seem right to say the New York Knicks have worked their way out of the wilderness. Not with J.R. Smith feuding with coach Mike Woodson. Not with Tyson Chandler just returning from a bout with bronchitis. And not with the Knicks still sitting in 10th place in the woeful Eastern Conference, a full eight games below .500.
But considering the train wreck New York has been for most of this season, it is undeniable that things are looking up. The Knicks are 6-2 in 2014 and boast victories over San Antonio, Dallas, Miami and Phoenix, all teams that would make the playoffs if the regular season ended today.
So what are we to make of the Knicks? Have they finally arrived? Should we expect them to gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs? Can they, dare we say, become a threat to conference kingpins Miami and Indiana, against whom they have a combined 6-4 record over the past two regular seasons?
My answer: The Knicks will definitely make the playoffs. (I've never believed for one moment this season that they wouldn't in the sorry East.) I also believe they will definitely finish with the No. 6 seed or higher, meaning they will avoid a first-round death knell against the Heat or Pacers. I believe the Knicks' ceiling is six games in the second round. They have no chance against Miami or Indy.
But let's hear what others around the league think. I asked four Eastern Conference scouts what they make of the rejuvenated Knicks as they enter Thursday night's game against the Pacers.