Why the New York Knicks don’t need to only draft “win-now” prospects

Ziaire Williams, NBA Draft, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Ziaire Williams, NBA Draft, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /
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NY Knicks
Tom Thibodeau, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Rich Schultz/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Knicks: Tom Thibodeau can develop young players

There is a stigma attached to New York Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau that he doesn’t develop his young players. He’s a stubborn, grouchy old man who just won’t commit to the “new wave” of basketball and he’s only going to play his trusted veterans.

It’s a pretty easy narrative to attach to a coach who’s known for being “old-school”, but really, I’m not exactly sure how much truth there is to it.

I’m trying to think of the young players that Tom Thibodeau held back in all of his years coaching. Players who couldn’t break free of the Thibodeau dog house and went on to develop into terrific players elsewhere… I’m drawing blanks.

He seemed to lean heavily on his young star Derrick Rose in Chicago.

Jimmy Butler, who Thibodeau drafted with the 30th pick in 2011, was playing 26 minutes per game in his sophomore season and leading the NBA in minutes by his 3rd.

Sophomore-year RJ Barrett started every game in 2020-21.

Rookie Immanuel Quickley, the 25th pick in last year’s draft, finished the season averaging 19.4 minutes per game and being named to an All-Rookie 2nd team. You can nit-pick at Quickley’s role throughout the season, but really, most fans should be very happy with both Quickley and Obi Toppin’s development throughout the year. 

I am far from calling Thibodeau a patient development coach. He may have his “Thibs guys” and he may preach work ethic over talent, but some players are built for that environment.

The Tom Thibodeau “lunch pale”, “blue-collar”, “sports cliche about hard work” attitude is fully entrenched into the recently sewn fabric of the new-look New York Knicks.

So now the questions are, how can they build off of their first season, and who should they be looking for in the draft?