In 2021-22, the New York Knicks finished the regular season with a 37-45 record and came up short of the play-in tournament. Since then, New York made one crucial move in particular, which was signing point guard Jalen Brunson in free agency. It’s been two decades too long.
If the Utah Jazz trade three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell, the Knicks are still believed to be the frontrunners to land him. Adding Mitchell into the mix would lead many to believe that New York would be able to solidify a playoff spot in 2022-23, but the truth is that the team has a pretty good shot to do that with how the roster currently looks.
Knicks fans don’t have to worry about watching Tom Thibodeau force Alec Burks to run point. No offense to Burks, but any offense would be limited with a non-point guard playing point guard. Brunson’s not the answer to all of the issues that plagued New York last season, but his addition can’t be understated.
The assumption should be that the Knicks are going to win more than 37 games in 2022-23, which is what ESPN believes. However, ESPN’s belief (subscription required) is that New York’s only going to win two more games than last year.
ESPN predicts that the Knicks are going to finish with a 39-43 record in 2022-23
Again, New York isn’t a given to make the playoffs next season, but predicting that the team will finish with a 39-43 record (10th in the East) is a bit low. However, it’s no surprise that ESPN isn’t giving the Knicks the credit that they deserve and in all honesty, it might be better that New York’s being underestimated.
Here are the nine Eastern Conference teams that were listed above the Knicks:
- Boston Celtics: 54-28
- Milwaukee Bucks: 54-28
- Miami Heat: 51-31
- Philadelphia Sixers: 50-32
- Toronto Raptors: 47-35
- Atlanta Hawks: 46-36
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 45-37
- Chicago Bulls: 44-38
- Brooklyn Nets: 40-42
When discussing why New York was listed at No. 10 in the conference, here’s what was written by ESPN’s group of NBA insiders:
"Things might be looking up for Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks squad after they landed free agent guard Jalen Brunson, and chatter continues surrounding the prospects of Donovan Mitchell heading to Madison Square Garden via trade.But it remains to be seen just how much better this team got over the summer. The Knicks hope Julius Randle can regain his All-Star form and that R.J. Barrett and young players, such as Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, continue to develop for a team that had high expectations heading into last season."
It’s true that the Knicks had higher hopes entering the 2021-22 season based on their playoff berth in 2020-21. The organization made a flurry of offseason free agent signings that turned out not to perform as expected (Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks).
Fournier and Rose are the only two players who are still on the roster, although if a Donovan Mitchell trade doesn’t happen, the assumption is that Quentin Grimes is going to take Fournier’s starting shooting guard spot.
New York’s had a better offseason after signing Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein, re-signing Mitchell Robinson, and converting Jericho Sims’ two-way to a guaranteed deal. Grimes, Sims, Deuce McBride, and Feron Hunt performed well for the Knicks in the Summer League.
The front office has laid down the foundation for future success. New York’s expectations might’ve been higher entering last season, but fans know that there’s more hope for what this group can accomplish in 2022-23.
The Knicks will continue to fly under the radar, but don’t be surprised come April when their regular season record is better than 39-43.