New York Knicks: Even without superstars, there is a new spirit

(Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT)
(Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT) /

Without superstars, the New York Knicks are still in a position to thrive.

With the trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in January, the New York Knicks are officially without an all-star. The Knicks have not been taken seriously since their 54 wins 2013-14 season.  You could say that team had several all-stars; unfortunately none of those players was able to take the team beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Does a team need an all-star or a “superstar” to be a contender? In today’s NBA, many think yes. Actually, after 2019’s free agency, it is apparently the consensus that a team needs at least a dynamic duo to make it to the playoffs.

However, it has been proven that some superstars are more trouble than they’re worth. They disrupt locker rooms and make the younger players feel “less than.”

Not so for the 2019-20 Knicks. Today’s New York Knicks team is comprised of young draftees, free agents who can be considered defensive “bulldogs” and players who will be great mentors for the Knicks’ second and third-year players. Today’s Knicks players are much like the 1998-99 team with the 27-23 record. That team that went from the eighth seed in the Eastern conference, to the NBA Finals.

Today’s players who, like that 1998-99 team, are determined to change the mind of the many who don’t believe in them.

In an article written by Steve Louis of the Ringer in April of this year, he said:

"The Knicks of the future may very well be better, but it’s tough to imagine any team mirroring the spirit of the City the way the Knicks of 1999 did."

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He goes on to describe the core of the ’98-’99 team as “on the wrong side of thirty.” Isn’t it wonderful that a team with the intensity to match that 98-99 team is here? They have the same defensive grit and their core has years before they hit the wrong side of thirty. When you look at the makeup of the 2019-20 team you see a team that is ready to take on everybody.

The free agents, Julius Randle (age 24), Elfrid Payton (25), are the youngest of them and could be a part of the new Knicks franchise for some time, Marcus Morris (29), Taj Gibson (34), Wayne Ellington (31) and Reggie Bullock (28), can all contribute greatly to this young core mentoring them with their defensive as well as offensive experience. Working out and playing with them this season is a wealth of knowledge for a young core in great need of it.

Summer League 2019 showed areas in need of work and social media has shown this team putting in that work. Kevin Knox has been very hard at work and makes a pledge to the New York fan base to continue. Mitchell Robinson has also shown growth since his rookie season and will be playing with the US Select Team scrimmaging with the USA FIBA team.

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A closer look at all the Knicks rookies and G League players will show players hungry to play for this team. So why so much doubt and negativity? From Allonzo Trier, who compares to John Starks, to RJ Barrett, this New York Knicks team, if done right, could be the new New York dynasty everyone has waited for.