The 2021 New York Knicks, 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars, and pop band A-ha’s song “Take On Me” all share one thing in common: they are all one-hit wonders. The Knicks were one of the biggest let-downs in the NBA season and haven’t been the same since Trae Young took a bow at MSG in the playoffs. Young takes on the Knicks Tuesday night with hopes of eliminating them once again, putting their future in potential jeopardy.
What’s Next For The One-Hit Wonder New York Knicks?
How Did We Get Here?
Simply put, they just couldn’t replicate the success they had the year prior. Last year, Julius Randle was playing at an MVP-caliber level. Now, Randle has declined in every major statistical category and could potentially be on the trade block.
The Knicks prioritized efficient shooting during the offseason, yet, they currently rank 27th in the NBA.
They wanted to stop letting their opponents get to the free-throw line; no more easy points. They give up the sixth-most personal fouls per game this season.
They wanted consistency from their players, yet, the only consistent thing is the six three-game losing streaks that they so far had this season.
The Knicks also play in a competitive Eastern Conference. If the Knicks played in the West, they would be a lock-in in the play-in as their record compares to the ninth seed Los Angeles Lakers and 10th seed New Orleans Pelicans. However, it’s no excuse. This team should’ve been better. The fourth seed they earned last year appears to be nothing more than a fluke. They lack aggressiveness and the “New York mentality”.
Possible Free Agent Targets
Every year, the New York Knicks are a predicted destination for big free agents. Media journalists and fans alike had Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and Zion Williamson as “realistic targets” in 2021. Instead, they ended up with Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Evan Fournier, Nerlens Noel, and Taj Gibson. Nothing more than C-tier additions. How can they finally live up to the narrative and target big names?
They can’t be afraid to overspend. Do whatever it takes to bring in pending free agents Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine. Barrett has 14 25-point games this season, but they weren’t necessarily the most efficient performances.
Bringing in an elite scorer could open so much potential from a scoring standpoint for Barrett similar to how Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics helps get the most out of teammate Jayson Tatum. Now that both are healthy and have overcome the tension and drama, Tatum is now the 8th leading scorer in the league. Barrett’s development is pivotal for the team to get over the hump. He is the piece that they need to build around, not Randle.
Speed and efficiency are also crucial for the success of the team. They are one of the worst teams in the league in transition as fast-paced gameplay appears to be too overwhelming for them. That results in loose balls. Their 13.5 turnovers per game also occur at the most inopportune times. Getting young, fast guards like Kendrick Nunn and Collin Sexton to come off the bench will eliminate some of those issues.
Develop Potentially Young Studs
They may already have a potential star who brings similar attributes to Nunn and Sexton in Miles McBride, but he doesn’t get enough playing time. His plus/minus of +109 is 3rd among all Knicks players. He averaged 27.8 points and 10.8 assists as a member of the Knicks G-league. They would be doing a disservice to him if they didn’t give him an increased role in ’22.
Immanuel Quickley is well-deserving of a starting role. He has the greatest plus/minus among all Knicks players at +196. Since Quickly saw more playing time in March, he has increased his field goal percentage from 32.9 to 46 percent, nearly doubled his assist total, and saw an increase in rebounds as well. He is quietly showing us that he can take on the responsibility of being a starter in the NBA.
A rebuild only further sets them back. The youth has talent, but coach Tom Thibodeau needs to do the one thing he typically avoids, starts the young guys.