New York Knicks: Overreacting to opening night

(Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Despite the New York Knicks’ late collapse, RJ Barrett’s stellar debut made opening night a major success.

The 2019 New York Knicks may have more talent on the roster than any of the franchise’s previous lineups in the last half-decade, and yet reaching the postseason still appears unlikely for the current team. While that outlook may portray the Knicks as a hopeless organization, last night indicated there is at least one legitimate reason to follow the team this season.

The Good

Reading too much into a single performance early in a young player’s career is always dangerous, and yet RJ Barrett was so impressive Wednesday that I’m going to do it anyway. The young forward was nearly flawless offensively.  Knocking down catch and shoot opportunities while demonstrating his uncanny ability to get to the rim will continue to translate at the pro level. Barrett makes the Knicks worth watching this season, and his opening performance indicates there will be much more of the Barrett show as the season continues.

As for the other nine players who suited up for the Knicks last night, it is clear the team does possess enough solid contributors to compete with the NBA’s elite much more consistently than in previous years. Newly acquired veterans Marcus Morris and Julius Randle were integral in keeping up with a Spurs squad that clearly outmatched the Knicks talent-wise. Yet while the free-agent forwards lead the way for New York offensively, it became clear during the second half why the new Knicks had taken the opportunity.

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The Alright

Morris and Randle, as well as fellow free-agent acquisition Wayne Ellington in limited minutes, looked pleasantly overwhelmed with their offensive responsibility. Through a barrage of contested three’s and overlooked teammates, the Knicks looked to be more of an audition for veterans looking for a chance to prove themselves individually with extended usage rates.

There are positives and negatives to many of the veteran Knicks prioritizing individual production. While it likely will be difficult to establish offensive continuity or a cohesive winning culture with selfish offensive play, players like Morris, Ellington, and essentially anybody else under the age of twenty-five can prove to be attractive trade targets for contenders at the trade deadline.

To summarize the first game of the Barrett era in New York, the young stud better put on a show similar to his debut on a nightly basis this season, because it’s unclear who else suited up in San Antonio is capable of making this team watchable on a nightly basis.

Grades and takeaways from opening night loss. dark. Next

Shoutout to Mitchell Robinson by the way, whose high flying finishes could make my local adult league games watchable. His absence from last night’s game should not be forgotten when evaluating the potential bleakness of the upcoming campaign. Barrett’s promising start takes center stage on a night that otherwise signaled the same old Knicks, and that will, unfortunately, be enough to persuade me to commit every other night to watch Knicks basketball.