New York Knicks win over Hawks a reminder of their long-term outlook

The New York Knicks had to have this game.

Coming off of a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns (who are now winners of 15 straight) the Knicks went to Atlanta to face the other hottest team in the NBA. The Knicks, who were just a game above .500, were preparing to play the red hot Hawks, followed by the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls.

It was one of the most exciting games of the season that saw New York pull out a gutsy win over the team that defeated them in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

New York was missing three regular parts of their rotation in Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, and Nerlens Noel, so they needed some other players to step up their game. Those players rose to the occasion and it was a reminder of not just the team’s depth today but how much young talent there is actually is on this team that is already competitive.

The New York Knicks are still building

It’s easy to forget where you started.

There weren’t expectations last season. It was all about being young, developing RJ Barrett, and accumulating draft picks. Instead, the New York Knicks started to win games with a mix of veteran players and young talent, and that same mentality of balancing a win-now mindset while simultaneously developing young talent remains true today.

Sure, New York brought in veterans Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker who will both take playing time away from some younger guys. That doesn’t mean the young guns aren’t still growing and learning from being in a positive environment.

We’re seeing 2nd-year players Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin take major strides in their development in year 2. Last night against the Hawks, Obi Toppin had 13 points in 16 minutes while Quickley dropped in 9 points and 7 assists. 

RJ Barrett finally broke out of his scoring slump and provided 15 points while shooting over 50%. Even the rookies got involved in this one.

Quentin Grimes played 15 minutes and while his usage was minimal, he finished as a +8 on the night. Rookie Jericho Sims, who was the 58th overall pick in the draft, played 21 minutes and provided 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Not many teams have young players sitting on the bench who can step up and contribute in a win over one of the hottest teams in the NBA on the road.

It’s a reminder that it’s not 2021-22 or bust for the New York Knicks. This team is far from all-in on this season.

They still have a surplus of first-round picks. They still have a roster filled with young players who could be major players in the NBA. Salary cap-wise, they do not have a lot of long-term money locked up.

They’re developing a strong foundation for the future and they’re doing it while being competitive. They’re building the right way.