29 November 2020

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The Complete Guide to the New York Knicks

The Knicks have been the laughing stock of the NBA for a while now. Relying on luck instead of good management, the Knicks ended up right where they were when they initially lost Carmelo Anthony, probably even further behind, now sitting at 17-37. The Knicks traded their rising star, Kristaps Prozingis, to the Dallas Mavericks for cap relief to sign the top free agents of 2019, but they never came. The Knicks now have this weird mix of young players and veteran role players and the two groups have failed to mesh together. Their roster consists of:

Note: Bold = Rookie

          * = All-Star

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          ^ = Two-Way

  • Starters:
    • PG: Elfrid Payton (25)
    • SG: RJ Barrett (19)
    • SF: Reggie Bullock (28)
    • PF: Julius Randle (25)
    • C: Taj Gibson (34)
  • Bench:
    • Bobby Portis (25)
    • Mitchell Robinson (21)
    • Damyean Dotson (25)
    • Kevin Knox II (20)
    • Allonzo Trier (24)
    • Frank Ntilikina (21)
    • Maurice Harkless (26)
    • Dennis Smith Jr (22)
    • Wayne Ellington (32)
    • Kadeem Allen^ (27)
    • Ignas Brazdeikis (21)
    • Kenny Wooten^ (21)

The New York Knicks may have one of the younger rosters in the NBA, but their future is not looking as bright as it should. Aside from RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, there’s not much talent that could amount to something on the roster. Barrett and Robinson were both unrelated to last year’s Kristaps Porzingis trade and the Knicks blew the chance to have a nice, young big three. Instead, they bet everything on the 2019 free agency and lost.

Elfrid Payton is one of the worst starting Point Guards in the NBA. Not to say that he is a bad player, he would be useful in any rotation, but aside from playmaking, he isn’t that good of a player. He is a solid defender and is capable of scoring, but he can’t take over games and doesn’t consistently score, averaging only 9.5 points per game on 42.5% shooting. He’s good at steals, averaging 1.6 per game and dishes out 6.8 assists per game, but that’s not enough to help a team. Payton is under contract until 2021 and he will likely never get another contract worth more than the minimum. He’s not young enough for him to have real potential, but at 25, he will likely squeeze out a minimum contract in the 2021 off-season.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 25: RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks reacts after scoring during the second half of their game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on October 25, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
 
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RJ Barrett has shown flashes of potential through an inconsistent season. The 19-year-old rookie out of Duke hasn’t quite lived up to the hype so far. He has shown off his athleticism and raw potential, but still has a lot of development to go through. Currently averaging 13.6 points per game on 39% shooting, he has not been all that impressive. He has been pulling in 5.2 rebounds and has shown some playmaking abilities with 2.5 assists, but his scoring is a major point of concern. Barrett came into New York with absolute freedom. He has been taking a lot of shots and the pressure might be getting to him. With this being his rookie season, give the man one more off-season to get his game together.

Bullock has been a major disappointment this season. After having a great season and a half with the Detroit Pistons, Bullock became one of the more sought after players in the league. After averaging 12.1 points per game on 38.8% three-point shooting in 44 games with Detroit in the 2018-2019 season, the Lakers traded for him to boost their playoff probabilities. Bullock was a disappointment in LA, dropping his three-point percentage to 34.3%. Despite the disappointing finish, the Knicks picked him up anyway. This year, his three-point percentage dropped again to 33.7%. He is under contract until 2021 and this may be his last NBA contract. 

Julius Randle is one of the most disappointing players of the 2019-2020 season. The 25-year-old Power Forward had very high expectations for the Knicks. After striking out on Zion, Durant, and Kyrie, the Knicks were desperate to sign a franchise player. They signed Julius Randle to a three-year $62.1 Million deal. After averaging 21.4 points on 52.4% shooting on the New Orleans Pelicans, high expectations were bestowed upon the young man. He has been solid this year, but not what the Knicks were hoping for. He is averaging 19.3 points on 45.4% shooting despite the minutes increase from last year. Randle was expected to break-out, and possibly even become an All-Star this season, but that was far from reality.

Taj Gibson starting is beyond any form of human intelligence. That’s right. Gibson, not Robinson, is the starting Center for the Knicks. Gibson, 34 years old, has been averaging a career-low 5.9 points. He does only play 16.6 minutes, but why not just start Mitchell? Mitchell is the clear superior player in rebounding, scoring, and defense. Gibson is an old shell of himself who barely belongs in a rotation.

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson runs up court against the Magic during the first half on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The bench is highlighted by the aforementioned Mitchell Robinson, and a stack of other young players. Their bench is very young, but aside from Robinson, and maybe Knox, there’s not real potential there. These young pieces, such as Alonzo Trier and Dennis Smith Jr, can be valuable trade pieces for the Knicks to acquire some solid assets to draw free agents in 2021. The Knicks really should look to trade these young players in the off-season to acquire players to help them, at the very least, not be a joke so that they can acquire their free agents. The staple of their bench, Mitchell Robinson, has been averaging 9.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks, making him one of the best role players in the league.

Trade Deadline Moves:

Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Just before the deadline, the Knicks fired their president, Steve Mills and Scott Perry was given his responsibilities. Now, onto the important stuff:

The one move the Knicks made was the Marcus Morris trade. The trade involved the Knicks, Clippers, and Wizards in the move. The Knicks received Harkless and LAC’s 2020 First Round pick. The pick will likely be in the late 20s, but a First Round pick is a First Round pick. The smart thing for the Knicks to do would be to package the pick and a young player like Trier or Smith Jr, to move up in the draft. Knowing the Knicks, they likely won’t do that because they don’t like doing the logical thing, but they have put themselves in a solid position to obtain some nice young players this summer.

New York’s Future:

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) in action against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Photo: Adam Hunger, Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Knicks have some solid pieces to build around in Barrett, Randle, and Robinson. Development for all three players must be a point of emphasis for the franchise. New York has hopefully learned their lesson about sacrificing their young players and will not give up their future for a small chance at Giannis in 2021. The Knicks’ goal should be to develop a winning culture more than just obtaining random Power Forwards. If their culture changes, their free agency luck will change.

Barrett will be the face of the franchise for another year at least. The Knicks’ training staff need to figure out how to help Barrett with his consistency, or the Knicks will be on pace for another very long decade.

In this draft, the Knicks best fit would be a Point Guard or Small Forward. They’d be around 5th in the draft and could draft a player like Cole Anthony. None of their young Point Guards, Payton, Smith Jr, or Ntilikina, are going to be the answer for the Knicks. They’re going to need a Point Guard to play along-side Barrett to help Barrett with consistency. Anthony is one of the best Point Guards in the draft. Some might say LaMelo Ball, but he will likely be picked up before the 5th spot, assuming that’s where New York drafts.

New York is a terrible team with only the draft to look forward to. The Knicks need credible management, something they’ve been lacking for several years. They’re going to need to draft well and develop well if they ever want to be contenders again. They’re not going to sign Giannis, so it’s time to move on from free agency.

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