Another All-Star weekend is fast approaching, which probably means another year without any New York Knicks representing in the All-Star Game. Saying that, who has the best chance of making it first out of their young core?
Fans have less than a week left to cast their ballots before the fate of the All-Star game falls into the hands of the media and fellow pro players and still, not a player from the New York Knicks in sight. Not exactly surprising, considering Tacko Fall and Alex Caruso have cracked the top ten for their respective conferences and positions, but all the more reason why fan voting, despite being worth 50 percent, is still nearly worthless unless a player wins the vote and becomes a captain.
I digress because this isn’t an attack on the fan voting system, but merely, a look ahead based off of the New York Knicks’ young core and who has the best chance of making an All-Star Game first. Now, if you wanted to bet the house that nobody on this current Knicks roster was going to make the ASG, I wouldn’t hold you back because, despite individual production from a few players such as Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and even RJ Barrett, their raw numbers don’t surpass most of the players that currently lead the fan vote.
Even if they were able to surpass the NBA elite in numbers alone, the Knicks’ 11-29 record doesn’t exactly suggest ‘All-Star’ caliber impact to a team. It’s the Devin Booker effect. Totally worthy of making an All-Star team in his past few seasons based on numbers alone, but thanks to overall team output (through no fault of his own), it’s kept him out of the big game.
I’ll keep my optimism, however, and look on the brighter side of things. What if the Knicks continue this upward trend of play with Interim Head Coach, Mike Miller, and carry it throughout next season? Someone is going to be shining above the rest as the proverbial ‘star’ unless they turn into the 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks and just mesh as one cohesive unit without a true face to the team. Not only do I not see that happening, but come on, it’s New York. Somebody, whether it’s next year or the year after, will attract enough attention from the Manhattan media to be the standout of the team.
So, who’s it going to be?
Well, based on the numbers alone, Randle is definitely in the best position to do so. In terms of players that are actually most likely to stay on the Knicks next year, it’s much more likely that the 25-year-old only in the first year of his 63 Million Dollar deal will stick around and avoid trade compared to the 30-year-old Morris who is only on a one year contract and is playing so well that the Knicks could try to get something in return before his deal is up and he walks for nothing.
I’m sure that for the Knicks’ sake, they hope Randle can improve on his already sound season offensively and elevate his near 19 points and 9 rebounds to a healthy 20, maybe even 25 and 10. He certainly has the potential to do so and his exponential career growth, despite scoring more in his previous season with New Orleans, suggests he’ll continue to grow as he nears his prime and truly hits an All-Star level.
Outside of Randle, who else has the All-Star leaping potential within this team? Probably, two of the younger guys that have shown the most promise since getting drafted; Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. These are two players that have shown incredible amounts of development within their short times as Knicks and have stepped up in big moments, making their potential to breakout over the next few seasons even greater.
With Robinson, his only gripe is the limited amount of minutes he plays which comes from the amount of foul trouble he gets into. He averages 3.4 fouls per game this season, so despite playing in 36 games, he’s only putting up 22 and a half minutes a night. The kid is a defensive monster and shows great promise on the offensive end while tacking on a team-leading Player Efficiency Rating of 23.34. If he can stay on the court, the kid’s got enough raw talent to make an All-Star push and I believe with maturity in the league, he’ll grow out of his foul troubles and get to that point.
Now, with Barrett, he’s already establishing himself as a durable asset for the Knicks who can score the basketball from all levels and come up big in late-game situations when his number is called. He’s still got some work to do with his percentages as a 39.5 Field Goal rate isn’t exactly staggering in the right way, but again, he’s only a rookie. Granted, he was a rookie that came in with a lot of expectations from Knicks fans. At one point, I was hearing some fans say he would be an All-Star in his first season? Obviously, that’s not going to happen at this point, but a selection in the next year or two may not seem so far fetched barring injury.
Bottom line, there will be Knicks that make the All-Star Game sooner rather than later. It won’t be this year, but the Mecca will see its first All-Star since Kristaps Porzingis back in 17-18 eventually. The only difference this time is that tensions aren’t as heavy as they were in the Porzingis era, so perhaps we see these budding All-Stars stay in Madison Square Garden for a long time.
A Knicks fan can only hope at least…