Photo Credit: Elite Sports NY
The look at all 30 NBA teams continues with the Knicks as we continue to count down the East. Check out the Wizards and Hornets by clicking on the team names. Today we focus on the poor Knicks, who at least should be happy they weren’t the first team on the count down.
Well, there was no KD, no Kyrie, no Kawhi, no Jimmy Butler. Let’s get that out of the way. This offseason was obviously a huge miss when you considered they traded Kristaps Porzingis just to clear cap for this offseason. While they failed (HORRIBLY) to meet expectations the Knicks had a decent offseason that actually improved the roster quite a bit. RJ Barrett for starters should be a good player to take the mantle day 1. He has struggled in Summer League, but we have seen that not be a great indicator in the past. Barrett won’t shy away from NYC, and I still believe has true superstar potential. On top of that, the team brought in Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock to help put shooters around him. Julius Randle has become one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and Bobby Portis while some will say was overpaid is a 38% 3pt shooter and a great modern stretch 4. While the Knicks struck out on the home run ball, they hit a lot of solid singles, that could help in the future.
G: RJ Barrett
G: Alonzo Trier
F: Kevin Knox
F: Marcus Morris
C: Julius Randle
Bench: Dennis Smith Jr, Mitchell Robinson, Bobby Portis, Frank Ntilikina, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington
Disclaimer that the Knicks will likely start Dennis Smith and move Trier to the bench, but I believe that is a mistake and until a team announces a lineup I will list what I believe to be the best lineup. RJ Barrett needs shooters around him to thrive. He can’t be relied on to hit the 3, so he needs a clear lane with 3 guys to kick too. Trier fits him much better than Smith, and DSJ should bring a lot of scoring off the bench. Shooting around RJ is also the reason for Portis at the 4, instead of Randle with Robinson at the 5. DSJ and Mitchell Robinson will both get good minutes and overall this is a fairly talented young roster. They should fit well together, and develop nicely. Update: Marcus Morris being added fits the Portis role even better as a veteran stretch 4 next to the young group.
Season Prediction: 26-56 (13th in East) / Misses Playoffs
A 9 win improvement is nothing to balk at for Knicks fans, and while many won’t be able to get over the disappointment and lack of stars, this team should be fun to watch. Barrett, Trier, Knox, Randle, and DSJ all have solid upside and Fizdale is a great coach to work with them. The key for the Knicks is not scrapping everything midseason and tank. These players need to develop around the veterans on the team. Taj Gibson should be a good locker room mentor. The Wizards and Hornets need more young talent, the Knicks do too, but not at the expense at letting these young guys start to build a culture. This team needs to prove it can be competitive. The Nets and Clippers just showed the importance of showing competence to NBA free agents.
Like I said above, the key for the Knicks now (barring Dolan selling the team) will be showing some competence from the President of Basketball operations on down. If Knox, Trier, Barrett, DSJ, and Robinson can all become solid starters and Randle can continue the path he is on the Knicks could make some strong pitches in 2021 to a solid free agent class. The Knicks need to keep the players I listed, but a player to trade might be Frank Ntilikina. I don’t know the market for him, but he does not fit the current group at all, and giving him minutes could just stunt the growth of others. Giving him to a team like the Magic or Twolves who are in need of point guard depth could be a solid play.
*Louie Snyder also discussed all predictions and lineups talked about in the article