New York Knicks: 3 massive mistakes by ESPN’s top 100 player Rankings

NY Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
NY Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks
Julius Randle, New York Knicks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

#2) New York Knicks’ star: Julius Randle slighted?

Julius Randle was a fascinating case study in 2020-2021. The fringe star burst onto the scene as he emerged as a much-needed Knicks’ All-Star.

The journeyman lottery pick was the most noticeable factor in New York’s top-four finish in the Eastern Conference postseason field. His outburst earned him the 2021 Most Improve Player of the Year honors.

It’s a loose argument, but follow my train of thought. There are 30 teams in the NBA. It’s difficult to imagine that, on average, there are enough good players for each franchise to have one better than New York’s best, with nearly half the league possessing two.

Of course, this isn’t the way the math plays out. Teams like the Magic and Thunder would love an established All-Star like Randle. Inversely, clubs like the Lakers, Suns, and crosstown Nets have 2-3 stars that surpass the Knicks’ best.

However, #42 seems far too low.

Need a more logically solid case? Consider the players listed above Randle in the Top 100 rankings. Denver’s Michael Porter Jr check in one space ahead at #41. He’s clearly talented. But he’s also unpolished and carries an injury history. Are we certain he’s better than Randle?

What about OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander? He’s another great young talent. But do we expect him to move the needle more than Randle this season? I do not.

Golden State’s Klay Thompson is a clear superstar. No question about it. But he’s missed two full seasons due to bad knee injuries. You can expect Thompson to hit from the perimeter at an all-time great clip when he makes his return. But what about his lateral movement? His ability to drive? His defense? Until we see Thompson return to All-Star form, he may be ranked too highly.

Perhaps the most obvious slight is Portland’s CJ McCollum. Don’t get me wrong. McCollum is a super steady guard that has formed a tandem with superstar Damian Lillard that has led to a decade’s worth of winning. He has a rarely low floor. But he also seems to have a clear ceiling. He’s never been an All-Star. And he’s never anchored a winning roster as the go-to guy.

McCollum (and all these players) deserve respect. But are we honestly certain that are all better than New York’s Randle?