3: Bench depth
After an already long 82-game season, a two-month playoff run to the NBA Finals wears even the best teams down. Having players like Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler helps (duh), but in the postseason, there’s an even bigger need for teams to have bench depth.
Tom Thibodeau’s tight rotation leaves room for four bench players, which will presumably be Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, and Isaiah Hartenstein. There’s a case for younger players like Miles McBride and Jericho Sims to get more minutes, and if New York made a deep playoff run, those two could get more run than usual.
The Knicks strengthened an already strong second unit by signing DiVincenzo this summer. He averaged 26.3 minutes last season for the Warriors, so he’ll spend more time on the floor than the player he replaced in the rotation, Obi Toppin.
Thibodeau must decide whose minutes will be cut because of DiVincenzo (Grimes? Quickley?). However, adding a championship-caliber player to the roster who can help space the floor was an obvious move for the front office.
Having a solid bench helped propel New York past Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, and ironically, if the Knicks had traded for Donovan Mitchell last year, they would’ve lost players who impacted that series.
New York hopes to take things even further in 2024, and the second unit will play a big part in that.