The New York Knicks made a big splash when they signed Jalen Brunson to be their new point guard. Can he help guide them back to the playoffs?
The expectations in New York were sky-high for the 2021-22 season for the New York Knicks after their shocking 41-31 record earned them the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Knicks’ postseason run ended with a loss to the Atlanta Hawks in five games but the additions of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker were supposed to unlock more offensive potential, making New York a deadlier team if the scoring could complement their rugged defense.
After a quick start, things fell apart quickly for the Knicks, who went just 37-45 to fall out of the Play-In Tournament consideration by February. New York’s defense dropped a tad, going from the most effective unit in the league in 2021 to the sixth-best in 2022, but the offense didn’t improve at all as Walker quickly played his way onto the bench while Fournier was a poor fit in the starting five. The offseason did see a big splash in the form of Jalen Brunson coming to run the point while a run at Donovan Mitchell failed, leaving the Knicks in an interesting position in a deep Eastern Conference.
New York Knicks offseason overview
- Jalen Brunson
- Isaiah Hartenstein
- Trevor Keels
- Svi Mykhailuk
- Kemba Walker
- Alec Burks
- Nerlens Noel
- Taj Gibson
The Knicks cleared a bunch of salary with their trade sending Walker, Burks and Noel to Detroit for draft picks in order to pave the way to bring in Brunson as their starting point guard in an effort to ignite their offense. Hartenstein is the new backup big with the potential to stretch the floor while the Knicks were able to protect their litany of young players and draft picks.
New York Knicks projected rotation
Brunson replaces Walker at the point guard spot and gives them their first true floor general in years. This is the only major change in the starting lineup as Fournier, R.J. Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are back to try and recapture the magic of the 2020-21 campaign. The bench is loaded with promising young players, such as Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes while veteran Derrick Rose will offer some leadership on the second unit.
PG: Jalen Brunson
SG: Evan Fournier
SF: R.J. Barrett
PF: Julius Randle
C: Mitchell Robinson
- Derrick Rose
- Immanuel Quickley
- Quentin Grimes
- Obi Toppin
- Isaiah Hartenstein
- Cam Reddish
- Svi Mykhailuk
Best-case and worst-case scenario for the New York Knicks
The best-case scenario for the Knicks is a reinvigorated offense with Brunson serving as a perfect facilitator to help Barrett unleash his full potential and Randle recapture some of the form that made him the NBA’s Most Improved Player two years ago. New York’s defense remains stingy under Tom Thibodeau as Grimes becomes a defensive specialist that helps the Knicks avoid the Play-In Tournament by capturing the sixth seed in a loaded Eastern Conference.
The worst-case scenario in New York is another lost season from Fournier and Randle, whose contracts will keep the Knicks from adding a meaningful player besides Brunson and Barrett. The offense continues to stagnate with a lack of floor spacing while Thibodeau doesn’t give enough minutes to develop his young players. This leads to the Knicks missing the Play-In Tournament and likely ends Thibodeau’s tenure in New York after just three years.
X-Factor: R.J. Barrett’s development
One of the keys to success in the NBA is drafting and developing young players into stars that can become the building blocks of future contenders. The Knicks have a bunch of intriguing role players but the one guy with a chance to be a star is Barrett, who signed a four-year extension in August that could pay him around $120 million if all goes well. Barrett is an ascending talent who has a unique ability to get to the rim and generate free throw opportunities while offering a solid jump shot and excellent defense. The Knicks made a solid bet on Barrett becoming an All-Star caliber player with this extension and if he makes that leap this season it could help them make a push toward the top six in the East.
New York Knicks projected record and finish
Everything went wrong for the Knicks last season and they still managed to win 37 games in a tough Eastern Conference. The roster reshuffling, along with the additions of Brunson and Hartenstein, should lead to a more balanced offensive unit that will allow the Knicks to improve by five wins. New York finishes with a 42-40 record, which is good for eighth in the East, allowing them two shots to play their way into the actual playoff bracket.
One reason the New York Knicks are worth watching this season
Even with the expensive contracts for Randle and Fournier on the books, this Knicks team is worth watching for its interesting young pieces. We’ve already discussed Barrett’s star potential while Quickley has become a spark plug for the second unit. The addition of Brunson could also help bring along role players like Toppin and Grimes, which is the most important step to becoming an attractive destination for the next superstar who wants out of their current situation. If the Knicks can become that fun young team that is exciting to watch it would be a huge step forward in their goal of becoming a legitimate championship contender.