The New York Knicks still need Tom Thibodeau despite hot seat chatter

New York Knicks Tom Thibodeau (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Tom Thibodeau (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks fanbase has quickly turned on last season’s NBA Coach of the Year. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has been a clear scapegoat for the team’s struggles this year. Unfortunately, many key players were hit with injuries this year, which certainly didn’t help New York’s playoff hopes.

A large group of Knicks fans are upset to hear that Thibs is expected to return to the team next season, per Jake Fischer.

With the playoffs out of the picture, many Knicks fans are lobbying for Thibodeau to “play the kids.” Of course everyone wants to see what the younger players can do, but is it wise to throw them into the fray this young in their career? Additionally, the young players have actually made progress in their short careers under him.

Additionally, this is only Thibodeau’s second season with the team. It doesn’t make sense to fire a head coach only because of a lackluster second campaign. Despite many fans believing Thibodeau isn’t the right coach for this team going forward, it would be unwise to let him go.

This season’s struggles for the Knicks aren’t on Tom Thibodeau

New York’s struggles do not solely fall on Thibodeau. The roster has been ravaged by injuries all season long. Derrick Rose and Nerlens Noel were a large part of the Knicks’ success last season, and they’ve played in a combined 51 games this year (26 for Noel and 25 for Rose).

Not only have the injuries to key players caused the Knicks to take a step back, but there were also mistakes made in the offseason. The Kemba Walker experiment proved to be a failure, as he has been shut down for the rest of the season since the All-Star break. Although Evan Fournier has had his moments, his struggles on defense often hurt this team.

It isn’t crazy to say that this team was overrated heading into 2021-2022. Julius Randle had a career year last season, and fans made the mistake of believing he was a superstar. For as good as he is, he’s clearly overhyped and is not the superstar savior this team needs. And that’s not his fault. It’s just not who he is.

Tom Thibodeau has actually helped the Knicks’ younger players develop

The Knicks roster currently has nine players 24 years old or younger. Some complain they haven’t gotten enough playing time, but if you look closely, Thibodeau has actually helped the younger players develop.

RJ Barrett struggled a lot in his rookie season. Last year, we saw him take a big step, becoming a durable two-way player. This season he’s made even more progress, as he’s starting to put up All-Star numbers.

Second-year guard Immanuel Quickley has made a significant impact early on in his career for the Knicks, which is something many scouts didn’t believe would happen. The young guard has earned the head coach’s trust to be the sixth man in his rotation.

Rookie shooting guard Quentin Grimes was also making an impact before he went down with a knee injury a few weeks ago. In the 10 games before his injury, the rookie averaged 24.3 minutes per game.

Athletic first-year center Jericho Sims has even started to see more time on the floor as of late. He has clearly caught the eye of the head coach and has been given more of an opportunity to show what he can do. In Sims’ last two games, he has averaged 23.5 minutes.

The only young player that is still struggling to get on the court is Miles McBride. Although he’s a very strong defender, he still has a lot more room to improve on the offensive end. Sometimes being patient with players can be a good thing.

Just last season, New York Post’s Marc Berman reported that Thibodeau was pushing the Knicks to draft McBride. McBride is only 21 years old — just because he isn’t seeing minutes right now, doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t have big plans for him.

New York Knicks’ future outlook

All in all, the two-time NBA Coach of the Year has to return as New York’s head coach next season. With the way the young guys have developed, it seems as if they are a key player away from really achieving their goals.

RJ Barrett is turning into a legitimate No. 1 option, and there are more young players developing under Thibodeau who could take big leaps. If they find that point guard they have been looking for this offseason, then they’ll be well on their way.

The fans need to take a deep breath and just remember that Thibodeau led this team to massive success less than a year ago, coaching the Knicks to their first playoff appearance since 2013.

Many things took place this season that were out of his control, and that’s not a reason to overreact to the tune of firing him.