The New York Knicks need star power to take the next step

Julius Randle, New York Knicks. (Photo by Michelle Farsi/Getty Images)
Julius Randle, New York Knicks. (Photo by Michelle Farsi/Getty Images) /

It is apparent to everyone that watches the New York Knicks that they have a nice collection of players, but are missing the toughest piece there is to attain, which is top-end superstar talent. Knicks fans can’t expect the team to go far with Julius Randle as their best player. Last season was a career year for Randle, but not the ascension into stardom many fans hoped for.

It’s not a knock on Julius as he is a good player who has been a victim of circumstance. You even heard Jeff Van Gundy say during the game against the Lakers that Randle would flourish if he was the 2nd option.

So the Knicks have a major issue because their best player isn’t even one of the best players in their division, let alone their conference. If you ranked the top veteran players (+3 seasons) in the Eastern Conference, Randle is barely in the top 20:

  1. Kevin Durant
  2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  3. Joel Embiid
  4. James Harden
  5. Bradley Beal
  6. Jayson Tatum
  7. Zach LaVine
  8. Trae Young
  9. Jaylen Brown
  10. Jimmy Butler
  11. DeMar DeRozan
  12. Pascal Siakam
  13. Bam Adebayo
  14. Khris Middleton
  15. Jrue Holiday
  16. Kyle Lowry
  17. Gordon Hayward
  18. Fred VanVleet
  19. Julius Randle
  20. Tobias Harris

Even an optimistic Knick fan like myself would have a hard time making a case for wanting Julius Randle over any of the players listed above him. I purposely omitted Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons from the list because they have missed most of the season by choice. If fact, many would make the case that OG Anunoby, Miles Bridges, and John Collins should all be ranked above Randle this season because of his atrocious effort. So the reality is that Julius might not even be a top 25 veteran player in the Eastern Conference.

New York Knicks: No clear path to a star

Knowing that the Knicks can’t build around Randle, they need to go out into the market to get a star player. But based on the trades made thus far and the injury status of some star players it is looking difficult for the Knicks. De’Aaron Fox doesn’t look like a possibility now that Sacramento has traded for Domantas Sabonis. The Knicks also didn’t make a move for CJ McCollum who went to the New Orleans Pelicans for what is essentially cap space.

If the New York Knicks don’t start playing better and make the playoffs, then they would need to get lucky in the lottery which is highly unlikely since it hasn’t happened since 1985. Then there is free agency, which is also going to be difficult.

It’s not likely that James Harden, Bradley Beal, or Zach LaVine will leave their teams to take less money to play for the Knicks. As for the trade market, when it comes to assets the Knicks have a lot of quantity, but not a lot of quality. They would need to take back bad contracts like New Orleans and Indiana did in their trades for CJ McCollum and Tyrese Haliburton.

These are the times the Knicks need to resist getting impatient and making the risky shortsighted moves that have plagued them for over 40 years. They need to continue stacking good decisions on top of each other regardless of how small they are and be confident one or two will turn into game-changers.

That is what the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks did. They hit on mid-1st round picks. Then they made enough solid personnel decisions to be able to trade for Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday. Let’s hope the Knicks follow their lead and get just as lucky.

Next. The Reason the Knicks can't make a trade. dark