Although the New York Knicks have gotten off to a modest 6-5 start, there's more than enough evidence that the team is still going to be successful for the duration of the 2023-24 season. New York has opened the year with a relatively difficult schedule.
It's worth noting that four of the Knicks' five losses came against teams that won more than 50 games last year. Three of their defeats occurred on the second night of a back-to-back, while New York has only faced two opponents that finished with a losing record in 2022-23. The Knicks won both of those games by more than 20 points.
Suffice it to say, they're a better team than their record suggests. While head coach Tom Thibodeau's group should begin racking up wins soon, could the Knicks finish with one of the three best records in the Eastern Conference?
The Knicks currently own the seventh-highest net rating in the NBA, with rebounding being a major reason behind it. New York is averaging 47.2 rebounds per game, one of the highest marks in the association.
This isn't a new development, as the Knicks have always been one of the top teams on the glass in Thibodeau's tenure. This included last season when New York averaged the third-most rebounds in the NBA and earned the fifth seed in the East. It's not hard to imagine one of the Knicks' greatest strengths propelling them to new heights in 2023-24.
Mitchell Robinson leads New York on the boards, as the former second-round pick is currently having the best season of his career in year six. He's averaging 11.7 rebounds per game through the team's first 11 contests, including a league-leading 5.8 on the offensive glass each night.
Julius Randle is also averaging over 10 rebounds per game, while backup center Isaiah Hartenstein is recording 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. One of the easiest ways to play good team defense is to simply not allow opponents to record extra possessions, which is something New York is extremely adept at.
Opposing teams are taking 83.4 total shots per game against the Knicks, the lowest mark in the NBA. Meanwhile, New York ranks in the top half of the league by attempting 90.8 shots each night. This is partially due to the extra possessions that the team gets in the form of offensive rebounding.
It may seem simple, but it'll be much easier to string together wins when the Knicks are attempting over seven more shots per game than their opponent on a nightly basis.