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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New York Knicks
Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Knicks defense has transformed

I’m sure we have all seen a variation of this image throughout the season…

All these months later, these numbers are still brilliant. New York finished the regular season still number one in the league in opponents’ points, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. They were number 6 in opponents assists, and 3rd in overall defensive rating, all according to

Watching the NBA on television recently, you may have heard Jeff Van Gundy on ESPN among others saying the Knicks have had the 4th best defense in basketball. This is because has the Knicks as the 4th best defensive rating at 107.8. Regardless of the varying numbers, the results have always told the same story: the New York Knicks have been one of the few elite defensive teams all season long.

This couldn’t be possible without the hiring of the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau as head coach. While his ability to get the best out of players certainly helped those that weren’t defensively inclined contribute to team defense, this roster isn’t without its defensive stars.

Nerlens Noel has been the anchor for this team most of the season. Starting at center, Noel has dominated on defense, being among the leaders in multiple statistical categories. Noel was 3rd in blocks per game (2.2) and total blocks (141), 3rd in defensive win shares (3.6), 1st in defensive box plus/minus (3.5), 2nd in defensive rating (101.2), 15th in steal percentage (2.3), and second in block percentage (8.7). Noel also was the only player in the entire NBA to average 2 blocks and 1 steal. How was this resume not worthy of top 10 voting for DPOY?

Noel of course has been the replacement for Mitchell Robinson at the starting center position. When Robinson was healthy enough to play, he was also incredible on that end. In his 31 games, he averaged 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. That would tie him with Brook Lopez for 9th in BPG. Robinson only has 38 players ahead of him in SPG, and 64 players ahead of him in total blocks (45). Lastly, his 104 defensive rating would slot him 4th, only behind Rudy Gobert, Noel, and Joel Embiid.

While Reggie Bullock has done an admirable job with the task of often guarding the opposing team’s best player, perhaps that role should be RJ Barrett’s in the future. Barrett is the only Knick in the top 20 in defensive win shares along with Noel and interestingly enough Julius Randle. He ranks 14th with a 3.1 rating, several spots higher than Bullock, the next highest Knick at 46th.

And what else do you need to see to be convinced other than this:

I rest my case.