Top 5 Reasons For The New York Knicks Successful Season

New York Knicks (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
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RJ Barrett, NY Knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Knicks have seen significant player development

Despite having mostly the same roster of players returning this season from last, the New York Knicks went from a record of 21-45 to a record of 41-31 in just 72 games. It was the improvements made by those individuals that played for the team last season that resulted in significantly better play in 2020-2021.

Obviously, the best example of this is Julius Randle’s 180-degree turnaround, but he is deserving of his own slide for his impact on this team, so let’s focus on his teammates.

For starters, Reggie Bullock went from a “meh” invoking player to a fan favorite. He was the perfect sidekick for Randle, as the two connected on dozens of possessions.

It wasn’t a New York Knicks game without Bullock nailing a three-pointer off any assortment of passes from Randle, whether the latter was driving the lane, in the post, or handing the ball off on a screen.

Bullock’s shooting was much better this season than last. He went from taking just 3.8 3-point attempts and making just 1.3 in 2019-20 to making 2.5 for every 6 attempts per game in 20-21. Last year, he shot just 33% from deep and 33.7% when catching and shooting. He got those percentages up to 41% and 42.5% respectively, seeing his overall points per game increase from 8.1 to 10.9. He even shot 11% better from the free-throw line (90.9%) and 4% better from the field (44%).

Besides Randle, the team’s most improved player has definitely been RJ Barrett. Here’s an amazing stat for you, Barrett in his second season saw an increase in every baseline statistical category… EXCEPT, for turnovers. How’s that for improvement?

Rowan Junior averaged 17.6/3/5.8 with upgrades in all three shooting categories, most notably having his 3P% skyrocket from 32% on 3.5 attempts to 40% on 4.3 attempts. He even made strides to become a great defensive player.

Finally, a couple of other players saw contributive albeit minor improvement in their games. Frank Ntilikina shot a career-high 47.9 percent from downtown. More specifically, he shot 48.6 % on catch and shoot threes, the 23rd best percentage in the NBA and best on the Knicks. Taj Gibson in a larger role (20 min. per game) off the bench increased his field goal percentage, rebound, steal and block averages.

Lastly, Mitchell Robinson saw more minutes thanks to being in more control of his fouling. He went from 3.2 fouls per game last season in 23 minutes of action to 2.8 fouls in 27.5 minutes.