This four letter word can give the Knicks new identity in 2022-23 season

Going into the 2022-23 season, the Knicks cannot play the same way they did last season. It wasn’t just the 37-45 record and finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference, it was the boring and uninspiring style they played with.

Since Tom Thibodeau arrived, the Knicks have ranked 30th in 2020-21 and T-29th in 2021-22 for pace. Last season, the Knicks finished 26th in the NBA in possessions per game at 99.7. They were one of five teams to average under 100 possessions per contest. There were other successful teams to average under 100 possessions per game like Dallas, Philadelphia, and Miami. The difference between those teams and New York was that those teams were better positioned for half court offense.

Dallas had Luka, Philadelphia had the deadly pick and roll combo of Harden and Embiid, and Miami had positioned shooters everywhere on the court running screens. Without a real point guard, and with Julius Randle not being the same efficient facilitator he was in 2020-21, the Knicks could rarely get into a flow and it was not good basketball to watch.

It did not help that the Knicks ranked dead last in assists per game and towards the bottom of most major team passing statistics.

The Knicks will benefit from an increase in pace during the 2022-23 season

The Knicks have had the fifth and eighth lowest turnovers per game the last two seasons. This is one area New York has done a great job in. With an increase in pace, it can lead to more turnovers this season. Although it may look bad on paper, it would not be something to panic over. It would show that the Knicks are trying to play with a new, faster style that can take some time to implement.

Another slow pace and safe low turnover season are not what people want to see in today’s faster NBA. Speed it up, take some chances, score more points, just something different than we’ve been seeing the last two years.

The arrival of Jalen Brunson comes at a time when the Knicks desperately need a point guard and a style change. The six-foot-one Brunson could greatly benefit from an increased pace, it would help him get up the court quicker and avoid teams switching bigger players onto him in the half court. Brunson provides a steady passing hand to a team that must move the ball better this season.

When it comes to pace, head coach Tom Thibodeau stated to the New York Post, “Pace is oftentimes determined by your players.” It is believed that Thibodeau and the Knicks coaching staff have been preaching the push-the-pace style this offseason.

Well, coach, it seems like you might just have the right personnel this season.

With Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein as the two primary big men for the Knicks, they aren’t committed to playing either heavy minutes. Robinson signed a four-year, $60 million contract this offseason which is still a bit of a head-scratcher when looking at the landscape and evolution of the successful big man in the NBA these days. Being able to shoot and create for others is only becoming more required and that’s not particularly Robinson’s strengths.

Both are solid players, but neither possesses the skill set of Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, or other big men that teams feel they can’t take off the court. Robinson and Hartenstein aren’t outside threats either and should focus more on shooting if both want longevity in the system the Knicks should be running.

This gives the Knicks flexibility to go a little smaller and faster with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin. It would not be surprising if the best lineup consisted of Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Julius Randle. Those are five players that can all push the ball and create plays for each other. Throw in the speedy Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride to this style, and these players could thrive.

The 2022-23 regular season is on the horizon, and we’ll all find out very soon just how committed Thibodeau and the Knicks are to changing their ways. You have the personnel, coach.