NBA

What is Fueling the New York Knicks Amazing Season?

Apr 24, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) celebrates with guard Derrick Rose (4) and New York Knicks forward Reggie Bullock (25) against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 24,2021, in New York. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have exceeded everyone’s expectations this season, going from barely passing 20 wins to a winning record. The Knicks lost to the Phoenix Suns on April 26th, ending their nine-game winning streak. This team has been on fire, with that winning streak being the team’s longest since 2013.

The New York Knicks have been dominant, currently sitting at 34 wins and 28 losses and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They are on pace to end with a positive record, something the Knicks haven’t done since 2013. This season’s success is mainly due to the breakout performance of one player and improvements by other key players.

Julius Randle

Apr 20, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks goes to the basket as Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets defends during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle signed with the Knicks in 2019 after a great season with the Pelicans. During his first season with the team, he averaged 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. These stats were worse than the numbers he put up for the Pelicans, but it was his first year on a new team.

This season he has taken a huge leap, averaging 24 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6 assists. He improved his three-point shooting as well, going from a 27% three-point percentage to 41%. He has been dominant, averaging 30 points over the team’s nine-game winning stretch.

It seems like the Knicks have found their star player in Randle. He averages 37.5 minutes a game and is the teams leading scorer. Randle also was an all-star this season and is only 26 years old.

RJ Barrett

Apr 24, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 24,2021, in New York. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

RJ Barrett was drafted third overall by the Knicks in the 2019 NBA draft. He had a solid rookie season, averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. He started nearly every game he played his first year, so it is impressive that he put up numbers like these consistently.

Barrett showed improvement in nearly every category in 2020. He went from 14 points per game to 17.5 this season and slightly improved his rebound and assist numbers. He really improved on his free throw percentage, improving by more than 10%.

Even though he is only a second-year player, he has matured very well in NBA. The 20-year-old guard plays a solid role for the New York Knicks and is a key reason for their success.

Derrick Rose

Apr 18, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (4) drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks traded for Derrick Rose midway through this year’s season. Rose wanted to play for a playoff-contending team, so the Knicks took advantage and traded for the former MVP. They had to give up young guard Dennis Smith Jr and a second-round pick, but it is clearly paying off.

Rose has turned into a key player for the Knicks, as he averages around 14 points per game and four assists off the bench. Despite coming off the bench, Rose averages just under 26 minutes a game. Over his last five games, Rose has averaged 20 points a game.

Even though Rose is far from his prime when he won Most Valuable Player with the Chicago Bulls, he still can contribute. A reason Rose adapted a key role for his new team so quickly could be because of Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, as he coached Rose during his MVP season in Chicago. Without the addition of Rose, the Knicks record may not be what it is today.

The Knicks Bright Future

Jan 17, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau talks to his players as Boston Celtics guard Jeff Teague (55) listens in during a break in the action in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks have plenty of young talented players that can help the team have more amazing seasons like this one. Their best player, Julius Randle, is only 26. Randle won’t be a free agent until the end of the 2022 season. Young Players like RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Kevin Knox have contracts to stay on the Knicks next year. Some of these players were just drafted this year, and with all of the Knicks’ potential, they could be even better next year.

Even though most of their young players will be on the team next year, some veterans are set to be free agents. Derrick Rose, along with Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, will be free agents. But if the Knicks want, they can offer to re-sign them and hope other teams don’t give the player a better deal.

Not only do they have an amazing young core, but the Knicks can also sign great free agent players. The Knicks are projected to have one of, if not the most, cap space next season. This means that they would have enough money to sign some of the best projected free agents at the end of this season—names like Kawhi Leonard, John Collins, Mike Conley, Demar Derozan, and many more.

The New York Knicks have an amazing season going on right now. And looking at what the future holds in store for this young team, the Knicks might be a dominant team, not just this season but for years to come.

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