Knicks’ depth will prove to be a major threat to Eastern Conference

The New York Knicks aren’t one of the top teams in the league, much less the Eastern Conference. The Knicks could end up fighting for a play-in spot at the end of the season, but after seeing their depth put on display in their preseason opener, it’s clear that New York is going to be that pesky team that other teams want to avoid.

Only one preseason game has come and gone, but the Knicks aren’t the same team that they were last year. For starters, New York has a point guard that can actually create offense in Jalen Brunson, which is a breath of fresh air after watching Alec Burks run point for the majority of last season. Along with Brunson, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson performed well against the Pistons, and even Julius Randle showed signs of improvement from the player that he was in 2021-22.

However, one of the most exciting things about Tuesday night was the Knicks’ depth (subscription required). New York spent two months of the summer in Donovan Mitchell trade talks, and if a deal would’ve happened, a few of the team’s young players would be in Utah right now. Many fans were left shocked and disappointed after Mitchell was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s starting to look more and more like a blessing in disguise.

None of this is to say that Mitchell, a three-time All-Star, wouldn’t have made the Knicks better. However, because a deal didn’t go through, New York’s bench is going to frustrate even the best teams in the league this season.

The Knicks’ depth will be a huge talking point as the 2022-23 season progresses

On Tuesday, New York started Brunson, Fournier, Barrett, Randle, and Robinson. That means that the Knicks’ second unit was made up of Rose, Quickley, Reddish, Toppin, and Hartenstein. Don’t forget about Miles McBride, who carried over his defense from Summer League to MSG and had six steals in 23 minutes. Keep in mind that New York was without Quentin Grimes, who could end up being a starter this season, and Jericho Sims.

The most noticeable aspect of the second unit was Isaiah Hartenstein, who is an actual stretch five. The seven-foot big man knocked down two three-pointers within one minute. When Robinson is subbed out this year, fans no longer have to worry about there being a noticeable hole at the five. Between Hartenstein and Sims, the Knicks’ depth behind Robinson is for real.

There are players like Quickley and Toppin that ended the 2021-22 season with a bang. The two of them play with an intensity that can’t be replicated. Entering the year, Quickley said that a goal of his was to attack the rim more, and he did just that on Tuesday night.

New York’s bench is going to be a point of frustration for opposing teams this year. The team’s depth will allow for them to play at a pace that other teams won’t be able to match, which is something that Detroit (a young team) struggled to do. The Knicks have one of the top benches in the league and if Tom Thibodeau can use that depth to the team’s advantage, New York will be a true threat.