Why The New York Knicks Are Better Than You Think

Who’s gone?

  • Mario Hezonja
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Luke Kornet
  • Emmanuel Mudiay
  • Lance Thomas
  • Noah Vonleh

Who’s new?

  • RJ Barrett
  • Ignas Brazdeikis
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Wayne Ellington
  • Taj Gibson
  • Marcus Morris
  • Elfrid Payton
  • Bobby Portis
  • Julius Randle

Scoring

Last season, the Knicks leading scorer was Emmanuel Mudiay at 14.8 points per game. Mudiay won’t have the opportunity to repeat as the Knicks leading scorer because he is now a member of the Utah Jazz. The Knicks signed forward/center Julius Randle to a three year $63 million who outscored Mudiay by 6.6 points. Also, the Knicks added Bobby Portis and Marcus Morris who averaged 14.2 and 13.9 points per game. Last but not least, the Knicks drafted RJ Barrett. While at Duke, Barrett averaged 22.6 points per game and will certainly try to sustain a high scoring average with the Knicks.

Veteran Production and Leadership

Last season, the Knicks heavily relied on their younger players. The Knicks youth didn’t play well leading the team to a 17-65 record. Marcus Morris, Taj Gibson Bobby Portis, and Wayne Ellington have all played on playoff teams and are certainly hungry to make the playoffs again and help the Knicks make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. Last season, the Knicks only had six players play at least 750 minutes who had at least four NBA seasons under their belt. Of these six players, only two have ever played in the playoffs. This coming season, the younger Knicks players will have more veterans to look up to. All seven of the veterans that the Knicks signed scored over 10 points per game. This is significant because the younger players won’t be forced into shooting and will get better looks because the opposing teams will now need to look out for the veterans to score.

Youth Development

Third Year Players

Third year point guards, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina will both hope to improve from the past season. After being dealt to the Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, DSJ averaged 14.7 ppg, 5.4 apg, 2.8 rpg, while shooting 41.3% from the field and only 28.9% from three. Although, DSJ’s numbers on paper look good, he must put in the work to shoot a much higher percentage from three to try and be a threat for the Knicks. Two years removed from being a lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina has been deemed a bust. While Ntilikina has been a solid defender, he hasn’t done much of anything else. For Ntilikina to get more playing time, he must prove that he can score. The Knicks will also hope to see improvement from third year shooting guard Damyean Dotson. Dotson saw an increased spike in all categories from his rookie season to his second season. Dotson’s minutes per game increase by nearly 17 which saw positive results for him and the team. Dotson is a solid three point shooter and if he can take another step forward in that category, he will be a major threat for the Knicks. If all three of these players can take a step forward from last season, they will make the Knicks a much deeper team.

Second Year Players

Although Kevin Knox had a solid rookie season, he wasn’t consistent. Knox averaged 12.8 points per game but only shot 37% from the field, 34% from three, and 72% from the line. Now that the Knicks have more scoring options, look for Knox to shoot much higher percentages. Knox will shoot higher percentages because he won’t always be drawing attention. Second year center Mitchell Robinson is already one of the best rim protectors in the game. Robinson averaged 7.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, and a whopping 2.4 rpg in only 20 minutes per contest. Robinson was named to the All Rookie Second Team last season and will look to add an all defensive team this season. Second year shooting guard Allonzo Trier will look to improve from his rookie season. Although Trier was an undrafted free agent, he impressed the Knicks enough to make the 15 man roster. Trier didn’t disappoint averaging 10.9 ppg while shooting 45% from the field and 39% from three. Trier will hopefully receive more than 22 minutes per game (rookie season average) so he can further develop. All three of these players have potential and the sooner their potential is reached, the better it is for them and the team.

Although the Knicks didn’t have the “big” free agency and draft they were supposed to have, they made very solid moves. The veterans that were signed, the development of young players, and the rookies drafted should all help the Knicks become a better team and potentially try and sneak into the playoffs.

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