- Henry Brinberg
What’s Wrong with the Knicks?
What’s wrong with the Knicks? It seems like a question that fans have been asking forever, especially since the Knicks last reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000. The New York Knicks have made the playoffs five times since then, losing in four of those series, including last season against the Atlanta Hawks. They currently sit at 11th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 18-20.
In their defense, the Knicks were active in free agency in 2021 trying to prepare for the season. They re-signed their 2021 All Star power forward and Most-Improved Player, Julius Randle, to a four year, $117 million contract. They also added guards Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, who seemed promising. Those signings were given grades of A and B by Daily Knicks in the offseason, but both players have struggled to find consistency with their scoring in their first season with the Knicks. Kemba Walker earned his 3rd career triple double a few weeks ago, and also had a night where he scored 44 points. However, in the month of November, he shot a poor 39.1% from the field. Evan Fournier also has scored a few high totals with the likes of 32 and 26-point performances, but still cannot be consistently relied on. He has had stretches where he misses a lot and hardly scores, and as a whole this season he is shooting 36.3% from three-point range while last year with the Celtics he shot 46.3%. Looking at departures, Reggie Bullock, a decent three-point shooter and reliable defender, was the most essential out of those who left the team that had a record of 41-31 in the 2020-21 season.
The draft is also an interesting part of the Knicks offseason. They first traded down from the 19th overall pick to the 25th, and drafted Quentin Grimes. The pick was given a B+ grade by Clutchpoints, but Grimes has not been much of a contributor thus far, only averaging 4.8 points in 20 games. They also traded down from the 32nd pick to acquire the 34th and 36th picks. Rokas Jokubaitis was their first pick, and was given a grade of B. But he later decided to remain in Europe to play basketball, so the selection was a waste. At 36th pick, the Knicks acquired Miles McBride. Although he received an A grade, he has still hardly seen the floor this season. With one of the last picks in the second round, the Knicks selected Jericho Sims, who was given a B grade. He has shown some promise in a few games, but ultimately has not been a big contributor yet. The draft seemed promising initially, but at the moment it doesn’t look like the Knicks were able to fill any holes in their roster with the young talent.
The draft seemed promising initially, but at the moment it doesn’t look like the Knicks were able to fill any holes in their roster with the young talent.
The Knicks have not been able to perform nearly as well this year as last year. After having an elite defensive rating last year, they now rank towards the middle of the pack. That could possibly be attributed to the loss of Reggie Bullock and the additions of two guards who are not especially good defenders. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau preaches defense, but this year the Knicks cannot revive what brought them to the playoffs last season. It seems like the slump that took them over in the playoffs is still haunting them.
The Knicks certainly have a lot of things to fix. Julius Randle is having the biggest dropoff of any all-star from last year, and that leaves the Knicks in a very tough place. Although they have a lot of depth, there are not too many players who are reliable on a nightly basis. That has become a problem because the team has not really been able to turn to anyone else to be a consistent scorer. At times there has been hope that RJ Barrett would become the guy to lead the way, but that hope now seems dim as he is averaging 15.7 points per game while shooting merely 32.9% from three-point range. The Knicks need to find a way to win games while Randle is cold, which is exactly what they could not do in the playoffs last season. Although a midseason revival could be in store if the Knicks solve some of their problems, for now, 2022 looks grim.
Although a midseason revival could be in store if the Knicks solve some of their problems, for now, 2022 looks grim.