How good are the New York Knicks? Did they get better this offseason? Where do you expect them to finish in the Eastern Conference?
Added: Jalen Brunson, Isaiah Hartenstein
Lost: Nerlens Noel, Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Taj Gibson
I’m skeptical that adding Jalen Brunson makes them a lot better. For a team lead by one of the most head strong head coaches in the league, the Knicks roster just doesn’t scream Thibs to me. They’ll be lucky to eke into the play-in.
The inflection point for this Knicks’ season is, of course, going to be whether or not they successfully strike a deal for Utah’s Donovan Mitchell. I think Jalen Brunson is a nice piece on a better-than-you-think contract, but not a player that raises their ceiling on his own, and that keeps them squarely in the Play-In conversation for me right now, at best. Add Mitchell to that, and I think the conversation changes a bit. And either way: as Bill said, does this really feel like a Tom Thibodeau roster to anybody?
I like the Knicks as a sleeper playoff team. They’re good at every position and don’t have the burden of high expectations like last year. I think RJ Barrett will make an all-star leap and Jalen Brunson is the calming presence this offense needs. Randle will have a comeback year, Hartenstein will go from “underrated” to “properly rated” (because of the increased exposure), and their young role players – Grimes, McBride, Quickley, and Toppin – will all be solid contributors.
My projections for the Knicks this year drastically vary depending on if they trade for Donovan Mitchell. If New York doesn’t land Mitchell, I doubt they’ll even make the play-in tournament. While I am a big fan of RJ Barrett, I’m not sold on Jalen Brunson, Evan Fournier or Julius Randle. This just doesn’t feel like a group of winners. Now, if the Knicks do land Donovan Mitchell I still wouldn’t anticipate a great season, but they should definitely be in the play-in mix.
Look, we can play the asterisk game with potential trades the Knicks could make all day. With the roster that they have, it’s really difficult to consider them a lock to finish in the top-half of the East. They have a lot of below-average separators at their position, play a bigger lineup by design and aren’t a great 3-point shooting group. We see them being offensively challenged. Tom Thibodeau starts to wear down his teams by the end of year three, and this could be that same trajectory here in the Big Apple. 38 wins and a 9th-placed finish is where I see them right now (edited)
I’m fairly low on the Knicks, even if they do get Donovan Mitchell. At their best, they were the four seed with a record that would have earned them the six seed last season, and it seems as though that season was an outlier for Julius Randle. Jalen Brunson definitely improves their ceiling, but I still think they’re going to struggle to reach the Play-In, so I’ll guess a 10th-seed finish for them. (And FWIW, I think trading RJ Barrett would be absolutely foolish.)
They can’t be worse than last year, though it’s underrated how close the possible combination of Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell would be defensively to the disastrous duo of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier last season. That’ll be a prolific scoring duo. We’ve seen plenty of offensively-dominant teams fizzle out come playoff time. Julius Randle regressed significantly on the defensive end last season. R.J. Barrett’s stats are impressive and needs to become the on-ball centerpiece of the offense like Jayson Tatum has in Boston. Of course, they’ll be lacking depth if they do the Mitchell trade. I think that’s an important foundational move for the Knicks and would make them a challenging play on an average night. This group already bothered the Celtics last year. They aren’t an east threat yet.
Like most, I fully expect them to land Donovan Mitchell. How much he raises their ceiling remains to be seen. A lot depends on what they can do with Julius Randle. Either through natural improvement, or by moving him via trade. The other interesting subplot seems to be how much defense Thibs can squeeze out of this group (in particular if Donovan comes over). I can see them being in the bottom half of the playoff bracket or possibly in the play-in range.
Will the Knicks trade for Donovan Mitchell?
This poll is closed
Yes (before the season)
Yes (during the season)
Your turn: Are the Knicks good?