The start of most NBA training camps is rapidly approaching, with on-court action beginning not long after. In fact, the New York Knicks’ first preseason game against the Boston Celtics is a little over a week away.
New York finished a relatively quiet offseason, signing backup shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo and trading Obi Toppin to the Indiana Pacers for a couple of second-round picks.
Barring a possible extension for Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks are likely done making moves before the season begins. In other words, their current roster and starting unit are mostly set.
However, their closing lineup will be a talking point throughout training camp. One of the downsides of a deep roster is the inevitable fact that talented players will be sitting on the bench at the end of tight games.
It’s up to head coach Tom Thibodeau to find a consistent five-man unit that can defend, move the ball, and hit clutch shots when needed.
3 Potential closing lineups for the 2023-24 New York Knicks
PG: Jalen Brunson
SG: Quentin Grimes
SF: RJ Barrett
PF: Julius Randle
C: Mitchell Robinson
The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” exists for a reason. New York’s starting lineup also has some experience being the team’s closing lineup, and it’s not hard to see why.
This five-man unit outscored opponents by 8.2 points per 100 possessions in 2022-23, as the insertion of Quentin Grimes in the starting lineup over Evan Fournier was partially why the Knicks performed exceptionally well over the second half of last season.
The young guard’s pesky on-ball defense and quick-trigger shooting motion help space the floor and stifle opposing backcourts. RJ Barrett’s constant slashing drives to generate rim pressure are unique compared to the other four starters and often cause defenses to collapse.
Brunson and Julius Randle draw double teams while also operating as New York’s offensive engines, scoring in a variety of ways. Meanwhile, Mitchell Robinson’s work on the glass after misses helps generate second and third opportunities. Not to mention his ability to anchor the team’s defense.
With over 526 minutes spent on the court together last year, the trust built among players in this five-man unit should allow them to remain focused and stay on the same page in high-pressure situations at the end of close games.