After a disappointing 2021-22 season, many Knicks fans were calling for the team to go young and trade some of the veterans on the roster. While it makes sense to keep some of the veterans and try to “contend”, it may be better to prioritize the development of the young players.
After looking at some of the other teams in the Eastern Conference, it becomes very clear that the Knicks will likely not finish as a top-six seed and that they will have to make a push to get a spot in the play-in tournament.
At that point, it would honestly be better for New York to just develop the young players and to prioritize the team’s draft picks (subscription required) as opposed to fighting for a likely first-round exit if they even make it past the play-in.
Here’s why the Knicks should consider going fully young this season
When looking at the Knicks’ roster, it becomes very clear that they have an abundance of young talent. The most notable young players are Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes.
If you have players as talented as the ones I just named, you must focus on turning them into the best players they can be. So far, the Knicks, especially Tom Thibodeau, have not done the best at focusing on their development.
The team may be sacrificing some short-term success by embracing the youth, however, I can almost guarantee that they will be better off in the future by trading away the veterans and developing their young talent. Players like Evan Fournier, Julius Randle, and maybe even Derrick Rose are all names that come to mind.
Personally, the only one I would consider keeping is Rose, as outside of his production on the court, he is a tremendous leader for the young guns. Even then, it may be better for New York’s long-term success, and maybe even for the sake of Rose’s career, to ship him off to a better team.
The Knicks veterans may not be very productive this season
While personally, I believe that there is a very good chance we see a resurgence out of Randle this year, there is still a good possibility that this will not happen. If not, New York should look to trade Randle in order to move on from his contract.
Not only would this move free up cap space for the Knicks, but it would also free up a ton of room for Toppin, who would be a much smoother part of the offense. We have seen what Toppin is capable of when given big minutes, so the Knicks should not waste the opportunity they have with the high-flying 24-year-old.
As for Fournier, while he was still an elite shooter per usual last season, he fell off in many other statistical categories, most notably in his field goal percentage (41.7%), where he posted a career low. This may not be the worst percentage, however, when compared with his below-average defense, it could make a recipe for disaster if he does not improve.
There is still a good chance that these veterans can provide a good amount of value, however, if they don’t, then there is no doubt that New York should look to move on from them in order to free up minutes for the young guns.
To sum it up, the Knicks are in the NBA’s noteworthy “no man’s land”, where they are not good enough to compete, but not bad enough to earn a high draft pick. That means that the front office must come to the decision of if they want to go old and compete, or go young and rebuild.
Personally, I believe the best thing for the Knicks is to just simply rebuild. The next couple of draft classes are insanely stacked with talent that could turn the team around far better than any of the veterans could.