NY Knicks: ATL’s sneaky X-Factor that could decide the series

New York Knicks, Julius Randle, De'Andre Hunter (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
New York Knicks, Julius Randle, De'Andre Hunter (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
NY Knicks, De'Andre Hunter
NY Knicks, De’Andre Hunter (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

It’s almost here, NY Knicks fans…

Knicks playoffs are nearly back after a long, 8 year hiatus. The wait has been long, but the wait is over.

It’s crazy to think that after yet another squandered season last year, with only a few potential bright spots to look forward to at the beginning of the season, we now have an All-NBA caliber player in Julius Randle who is also likely to win the Most Improved Player award.

We have a sophomore player in RJ Barrett who’s got an extremely promising career ahead of him.

Two rookies in Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley who look to be at worst very solid contributors with IQ having shown legitimate star potential.

And lastly, a head coach who has established a legitimate winning culture here in the Mecca of baseball with his sights set on winning a title in the near future.

A coach who wanted to be here from the jump.

This season has been so much more fulfilling than the last time we as fans saw our New York Knickerbockers in the playoffs because back then, we expected a title.

De’Andre Hunter could be the key to ATL’s success against the NY Knicks

Here and now, if you told me at the beginning of the year that the Knicks would win 30 games this season I would have been excited.

Instead, we got spoiled with 41 wins and the 4th seed in the East.

Three of those wins came against our first-round opponent in the Atlanta Hawks.

The first 2 games we played against the Hawks were coached by Lloyd Pierce, the third and most competitive game of the 3 was coached by today’s coach, Nate McMillan.

The Knicks have basically seen everything the Hawks could possibly throw at them under either of the two head coaches.

Except for one thing…

De’Andre Hunter only played in the first game against the Knicks back in January of this year. We have not seen what he’s capable of under the current coaching staff and that could easily be the deciding factor for the series.

Hunter missed the bulk of the year due to a multitude of nagging injuries, playing in a total of just 23 games.

Prior to the injuries, Hunter had been emerging as the 2nd best player behind Trae Young and is easily the best defender on the team.

Nate McMillan led the team to a 27-11 record after he took the reins on March 1st and they’ve improved dramatically on the defensive side.

The Hawks ranked 12th in defensive rating once Coach McMillan took over in comparison to 23rd while being coached by Lloyd Pierce so there’s a stark difference there.

Pairing the best defensive wing on the team with a more defensively sound coach could truly impact the entire series as a whole.

Keep an eye out for Hunter guarding Julius Randle throughout the series. The Hawks haven’t had much of an answer for slowing Randle down and De’Andre provides them with the best chance to do so.

In conclusion, while I do believe De’Andre Hunter will play a huge role in this series, the Knicks got this one in the bag.


Next. Another 3 contracts NY can trade for and obtain a draft pick. dark