Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: New York Knicks Season Preview

New York Knicks Season Preview
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: Duke Blue Devils forward RJ Barrett (5) during the Ameritas Insurance Classic College Basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Texas Tech Red Raiders on December 20, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After sacrificing their season last year, the Knicks failed to secure the number one overall pick along with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Still, there’s plenty to be excited about for this upcoming season. This Knicks had plenty of young exciting players last season. This includes Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Allonzo Trier. This year they bring even more young talent into the fold, including the number three overall pick from this year’s draft, RJ Barrett. We’ll delve into what to expect from the New York Knicks with this season preview.

New York Knicks Season Preview

2018-19 Season Record: 17-65 (12th in the Eastern Conference)

What Worked Last Season 

Well considering the Knicks were the worst team in the NBA, there wasn’t a lot good. However, despite the low win total, they definitely had their bright spots. The Knicks were able to assemble a core of young talented players. This is something New York hasn’t been able to do in quite some time.

What Needs Improvement

Everything. Last season the New York Knicks were close to the bottom in almost every stat category. One thing the Knicks suffered from was the consistency from their starters. Mario Hezonja would score 30 points in one game, then score single digits the next three games. The same goes for a lot of their other starters. It’s to be expected though from a group of inexperienced rookies and young players. However, if this team expects to win consistently, the players need to produce on a nightly basis.

Off-Season Changes  

Despite not acquiring any superstar players, the New York Knicks were quite busy this offseason. The big offseason splash was the signing of a former lottery pick, Julius Randle. The Knicks didn’t stop there. They went on to sign multiple players on one and two-year deals to retool their roster. This Knicks team is almost completely different from the start of last season.

The Subtractions 

Emmanuel Mudiay, unfortunately, wasn’t apart of the Knicks’ future plans and they decided not to resign him. Mudiay had many great games last year for New York. Acquired the year prior, Mudiay seemed like he was a bust for Denver. He had a great rookie campaign but seemed to regress the years following. Denver had given up on Mudiay and the Knicks took a chance on him. Mudiay averaged a career-high in points (14.8) and field goal percentage (44.6)

2019-2020 Projections 

The Starting Lineup 

PG: Dennis Smith Jr.

Building off his success last season, Dennis Smith Jr. is penciled in as the point guard of the future for this team. Acquired as a main part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade, the Knicks got streaky results from Smith last season. He scored a career-high 31 points in just his third game with the New York Knicks. Smith is a former lottery pick that still has a lot of upside. His explosiveness on the court makes him a wildcard in every game. The Knicks hope he can find a little more offensive consistency in this upcoming season.

SG: RJ Barrett

The consolation prize to the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. Although he wasn’t the Knicks’ first choice, RJ Barrett should turn plenty of heads this season. The Knicks struck out on Irving and Durant but is that a bad thing? In terms of developing this young core, no. Barrett comes into the season hoping to build upon a decent summer league. Despite struggling early on, Barrett finished tournament play in vegas averaging 15.4 points per game. Without any stand out star on the roster, Barrett should get plenty of touches every game to show the league why he was drafted so high.

SF: Kevin Knox

Last year’s lottery pick, Kevin Knox, hopes he doesn’t fall victim to the “sophomore slump”. Knox had plenty of bright spots in his rookie campaign. Averaging 12.8 points per game on 37 percent shooting. The player nicknamed “baby Durant” has shown how explosive he can be. Consistency is another important thing to watch for Knox. He’s had plenty of high scoring games, but would immediately fall off the game following. The Knicks hope that this will be a big growing year for Kevin Knox.

PF: Julius Randle

The big offseason signing, Randle, hopes to give this Knicks team a giant boost. Randle spent last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Randle averaged a career-high in points (21.4) and shot a career-high 34.4 percent from three. Randle’s ability to shoot the three helps spread the floor and makes it harder on defending teams to stop him from scoring.

C: Mitchell Robinson

Being drafted 36th overall last year, Robinson may be one of the best players to ever go in the second round of the draft. Robinson completely dominated the paint last season averaging 2.4 blocks per game in his rookie season. He set a Knicks rookie record by swatting nine shots in one game. His dominance on the court continued into the NBA summer league where he was named to summer league first team. If he continues to grow, Robinson will be a future NBA superstar.

Key Reserves

Rookie Ignas Brazdeikis had a greats summer league, averaging 15.4 points on 51 percent shooting. He’s looking to break through on this crowded Knicks roster.

Bobby Portis signed a two year deal with New York back in July. The four-year veteran hopes to breakthrough after making the most of his time with the Washington Wizards. Portis averaged career-highs in points per game and three-point percentage after being traded to the Wizards. Portis helps bolster this Knicks bench greatly.

Trier hopes to continue playing at the high level that earned him a two-year contract in the middle of last season. Trier many times last season was the catalyst for the Knicks offense.

Marcus Morris, who was one of the big contributors to the Boston Celtics’ success in the past two years hopes to lend his veteran leadership and defensive presence on the court.

Season Predictions

The Knicks certainly have a ton of question marks heading into this season. They, of course, had the worst record last season, so it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances this year. Still, this Knicks team is almost completely different from last year’s team. Scott Perry added a ton of veterans on short term deals. This allows the rookies to grow while staying competitive. If Barrett ends up having a great season, this Knicks team will flourish because of it. The Knicks have a lot of talented rookies this year, which should make them fun to watch throughout the season. With the East being even weaker than last season, it’s not totally out of the question that the Knicks can squeeze into the seventh or eighth playoff seeds. Regardless, expect this Knicks team to be competitive on every possession.

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