The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors shocked the NBA world on Saturday afternoon with the first big trade of the 2023-24 season. The RJ Barrett trade saga has officially been put to an end as the Knicks traded Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a Detroit Pistons second-round pick to the Toronto Raptors for OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa.
The trade itself was shocking and it completely changes the dynamic of the Knicks. Fans have been waiting for New York to make a superstar trade and while this is not quite that, trading for Anunoby shows a commitment by the front office to craft the best possible version of this Knicks team.
New York has traded two of its top-six players in terms of minutes played per game for one starter and two rotation pieces. Here is how it is going to impact the team's starting lineup, as well as the potential rotation off the bench.
Projected Knicks starting lineup after OG Anunoby trade:
- PG: Jalen Brunson
- SG: Donte DiVincenzo
- SF: OG Anunoby
- PF: Julius Randle
- C: Isaiah Hartenstein
As surprising as this trade was, the starting lineup change is rather straightforward. Anunoby is going to replace Barrett at the three, starting alongside the four current starters in New York.
Donte DiVincenzo recently replaced Quentin Grimes in the starting five and Anunoby coming to town is not going to change that. Hartenstein is starting at center in place of Mitchell Robinson, who is out for the season.
The brunt of the change is going to happen on the bench unit, as the Knicks traded a prominent bench player in the deal for two fodder pieces that aren't much better than the depth options currently on the team.
Projected Knicks depth chart after OG Anunoby trade:
Here is how we see the bench rotation shaking out in order of minutes played per game. Knowing Thibodeau, the pieces will continue to move around depending on the dynamic at play.
- 6: Josh Hart
- 7: Quentin Grimes
- 8: Jericho Sims
- 9: Precious Achiuwa
- 10: Malachi Flynn
- 11: Taj Gibson
The rest of the roster is fodder that will be reserved for garbage time and DNP-CDs. As is evident when laid out like this, the addition of Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn was big because someone has to play to get the team to 240 total minutes played.
Replacing Quickley's minutes is going to be a group effort. Quickley was averaging 24 minutes a game and both DiVincenzo and Hart will likely see a small bump to their playing time. Grimes, who was playing 20 minutes a game, might be tasked with playing 24 minutes a game. If those three players tack on an extra combined 12 minutes, that leaves 12 minutes for Malachi Flynn in the rotation.
It will be interesting to see how the Sims-Achiuwa part of the rotation will shape out. Sims is currently nursing a minor ankle injury and saw a big bump in his playing time after the Robinson injury. Sims is a traditional center while Achiuwa played small-ball five for the Raptors and might be more of a power forward in this rotation. However, his lack of a three-point shot does hurt the floor spacing.
In a perfect world, the Knicks would be able to flip some future draft capital for better depth pieces but when the rotation shrinks in the playoffs the team can make it work.