It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for the New York Knicks. They are just 3-4 through seven games, hardly where they want to be in the standings, but they’ve also played an immensely difficult schedule (fourth-hardest per Basketball Reference) and come through alive. They have the league’s second-best defensive rating but the 28th-ranked offense.
If the team has been so strong in some areas and weak in others, it makes sense that the individual players have been all over the place as well. Some are playing exceedingly well to start the season, propelling the Knicks to a positive net rating and the best rebounding numbers in the league. Others are struggling, pulling down the offense and leading to the subpar record.
Let’s look at three Knicks who are soaring and two who are fading fast.
Stock Soaring: Jalen Brunson
Jalen Brunson had an All-Star-level season last year, even if he didn’t quite make the cut for the actual All-Star Game. He looks like a bargain on the contract he signed last summer, and this season was going to be an interesting test case as to whether last year was a flash-in-the-pan or whether he was a perennial star for the Knicks.
Brunson hasn’t had a perfect start to the season, and he had a poor shooting game in his most recent outing against the LA Clippers, but he has also established himself as the clear top option for the Knicks. That includes a 45-point explosion against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Knicks’ first In-Season Tournament Game. He didn’t notch that level with some hot shooting but by repeatedly knifing into the teeth of the vaunted Bucks’ defense and scoring inside.
The Knicks need Brunson to be a bit more efficient, but otherwise, he’s demonstrating his level of command over the offense and is clearly the best player on this team. Will he finally get the award recognition to go with his impact? Only time will tell.