What is there to watch for with the New York Knicks this season?
With the New York Knicks being a team that is usually on the outside looking in, it’s hard to have optimism for a successful year heading into the season. This year is different.
The Knicks didn’t sign the superstars once rumored and the players that signed instead were seemingly underwhelming. This was a blessing in disguise, though, because these under-the-radar moves could have the Knicks in playoff contention come April. Here are three things to watch for the 2019-20 season.
3. Fail Forward
This seems to be a theme for the Knicks this year. Eight of the 16 players currently on the roster occupy either the small forward or power forward position. That’s half of the roster. It’s as if the Knicks are taking the “next man up” approach, even before a man goes down. How minutes are distributed will be interesting to see.
The Knicks have young players that need playing time to develop and veteran players that expect to play. Is there enough playing time for everyone? Newcomers like Reggie Bullock, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson did not come to sit on the bench.
Well, maybe Gibson did. His production has been on a steady decline over the last few years so his veteran presence will most likely be most prevalent from the bench, in the locker room and in practice. Note that Gibson is a Brooklyn native and saw signing in New York as an opportunity to do what he loves while also being close to his ailing father.
Now, where do you put the No. 3 pick, RJ Barrett? Is he a shooting guard or a small forward? Of course, Julius Randle and Kevin Knox are going to need playing time as well. David Fizdale and the Knicks coaching staff have some work to do. Too much of one ingredient could be a recipe for disaster.
2. New York Knox?
In his rookie season, the 6-foot-9, modern-day power forward played 75 games, starting 57 of them and averaging a tad less than 13 points while grabbing just over 4 rebounds in 29 minutes per game. After a solid start to his career, Knox looks to build upon his rookie campaign. To some it may seem like the Knicks are setting Kevin up for a sophomore slump by bringing in so many other players at the same position. Is Knox going to get the playing time he needs?
He does seem to have a great relationship with head coach David Fizdale. In an interview with Alan Hahn, Fizdale states that he’s been in the gym one on one with Knox, working to develop the young forward into the player he’s supposed to be. Coaches only do things like that with players they believe in.
Knox, however, doesn’t want anything easy and knows he’ll have to work for his spot. Knick fans have high hopes for the 2018 first round pick. Hopefully he can find his footing and grow into the shoes he needs to fill for the Knicks to become a contender in the near future.
1. Julius Randle becomes a star?
New York hasn’t felt the essence of a “Julius” since Dr. J was a nurse. Coming off his best NBA season, Julius Randle is now set up to be the best player on an NBA roster. Randle isn’t exactly a household name but this is the season that will change. The emergence of players like Pascal Siakam has paved the way for players like the Kentucky product.
Seemingly forgotten after being dumped like a bad habit by the Lakers, Randle finds himself in a prime position for a breakout season. ESPN ranked the top 100 basketball players currently playing in the NBA.
To make things even worse, Randle was previously ranked 84th the last time ESPN created these rankings. How does someone, ranked 84th, have their best season as a pro and go down in the rankings? This should just add fuel to the fire to help Randle have a year that pushes him forward with the New York Knicks.