1. Pressing questions for Tom Thibodeau: Which fringe players become contributors?
This offseason could bring plenty of turnover to the Knicks roster. SNY recently reported that opposing executives believe it is “unlikely” the team follows a slow rebuild under Rose and Thibodeau. New York is expected to pursue veteran players to help bolster their lineup that should include three young core pieces in Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett, and their 2020 lottery pick.
While some could argue about characterizing these next few players as “fringe” pieces, in my eyes, anyone not named Mitchell or RJ is on the watch list as possible moving parts.
That means Dennis Smith Jr. That means Kevin Knox. That means Damyean Dotson. And, of course, that means Frank Ntilikina.
Now, this is where Thibodeau’s influence comes into play. Assuming Rose trusts Thibs, who he just hired and has known for several years, you would have to believe there will be a two-way line of communication on how to build the roster for next season.
Looking at the list of young players from above, it would be easy to predict that Ntilikina might find second life under Coach Thibs. When you think of Thibodeau, you think of defense, and no young player personifies that better than Frank. Dotson would be another player who comes to mind in fitting the hustle style of play Thibs prefers.
Every coach is going to play the same star players, but each coach takes their own approach in who they trust farther down the bench. Which of the long list of young players on the Knicks roster become favored by Thibodeau will be fascinating to learn.