The New York Knicks have been the laughing stock of the NBA in recent seasons since the departures of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. They had a good time thanks to Kristaps Porzingis’ sensational play, but overall it was a tough time for the franchise.
During the 2020-2021 NBA season, Tom Thibodeau revitalized Madison Square Garden’s top NBA arena by leading the Knicks to a fourth seed in an unexpected run led by first All Star Julius Randle and sophomore sensation. RJ Barrett. Thibodeau even acquired his reliable alumni in Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson by inserting them into his system and giving them important roles throughout the season.
However, the Knicks have been very fortunate in being in good health for the majority of the season compared to more talented teams, like the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics. Moreover, it will be difficult for them to replicate this success and these are the three reasons why they will not win the championship this season.
Knicks’ offensive plays are easily predictable
In their five-game streak against the Atlanta Hawks, Thibodeau’s games were easy to spot and anticipate for Nate McMillan and everyone else in the Hawks. The ball would find its way to Randle on the elbow, and the decision will be up to him whether he will go head-to-head or facilitate and create for his teammates from his triple threat position. His offensive options were very limited as Elfrid Payton and Nerlens Noel rarely contribute on this side of the pitch.
Barrett still lacks the skills and experience to be a second fiddle on a championship-contested team, which has been proven by his ineffectiveness and questionable decision-making at crucial stages of the competition. Their additions of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker can improve their offensive production, but playing them together will sacrifice the Knicks’ ability to contain opponents on the other side of the field.
Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks and Obi Toppin are formidable spark plugs on the bench, but they are still not the answer to compete with the Eastern Conference teams who have far more superior attacking options. It will be interesting how Thibodeau will mix and match his roster combinations to ensure the Knicks’ success.
The core of this New York Knicks team is made up of young stallions who don’t yet have much experience playing on the bigger stage. Their veterans Rose and Taj Gibson are brilliant leaders, but that’s not enough to complete this franchise which has high expectations every year. Quickley, Toppin, Barrett and Mitchell Robinson are just beginning their careers, making it difficult for them to raise their level of play in the playoffs.
Two former Celtics guards in Walker and Fournier failed to capitalize and prove their worth against the Brooklyn Nets last season, making it difficult for the Knicks to rely on them to deliver a consistent offense in a series of seven games. Randle just got his first taste of playoff basketball last season, and he’s struggled tremendously with fierce defense from John Collins and DeAndre Hunter.
There’s a ton of potential for New York City, but it’s too early to expect too much of them with the lineup they’re parading this coming season.
When it comes to the Knicks’ offensive struggles, their three-point shooting accuracy has been a huge question mark and obstacle every year, and it looks like they still won’t be able to overcome it this season. The addition of Fournier and Walker increases their options, but the loss of Reggie Bullock is a major loss that isn’t much talked about. He was their top three-point shooter who took home shots from everywhere, while also defending the opposing team’s best offensive winger or guard.
The Knicks’ other guards aren’t consistent and efficient outside shooters, which will cause a plethora of issues as the defenses will only clog the paint on them. As they circle the shaded lane, it will be insurmountable for Randle and Barrett to show off and flourish with their cutting abilities as there is no threat of throwing him in the wings or corners.
With the shortage of shooters, it will also create a dilemma for Thibodeau to insert even Robinson or Noel into the roster, as it reduces the offensive options to an even smaller level. As the Knicks continue to add to their lingering problems on the offensive end of the field, Thibodeau could still count on his devastating and fearless defensive plans, but that won’t even be enough to compete for a championship this season.