The Knicks finished six games behind the play-ins last season. This week they added free agents Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein. They also re-signed Mitchell Robinson. Are these improvements enough to put the Knicks back in playoff contention in 2022-23? P&T staff weigh…
Joe Flynn: No. Could the Knicks are vying for a playoff spot? Absolutely. They have talent and depth. They have a handful of young players who look set for a breakout. But it’s still Tom Thibodeau’s team, unfortunately. Thibs helped the Knicks qualify for the playoffs when he was able to face an All-NBA level Julius Randle 40 minutes a night and got 6MOY level contributions from Derrick Rose. This current roster, however, is built on youth and depth – two ideals that are anathema to Thibs. I don’t trust Randle to bounce back, and I don’t trust Thibs to pivot into an Obi Toppin ascendant. Now, if the front office trades Randle and forces Thibs’ hand, that’s a different story.
Matthew Miranda: They can be a playoff team, if only because they can be a play team, putting them one or two wins away from the playoffs. Of the top 10 teams in the East a year ago, aside from catastrophic injuries to one of their key players, I think nine of them will be about as good as they were last year. last season, if not better. Brooklyn could fall out of the play-in, which could open up a spot for New York. Charlotte could once again be in the neighborhood of a .500 team, a mark these Knicks could also persist all season. The biggest threat to the Knicks may be the teams in their rear-view mirror: Indiana, Detroit and Orlando all drafted well in the lottery and should win more games this year than last.
Kento Kato: Nope. They have a roster that can make it interesting, but I just don’t see them overtaking the team that made the playoffs last season. I guess I could see a world where Julius Randle comes back and plays better than last season. A resurgence from Randle, along with continued improvement from RJ Barrett and incoming point guard Jalen Brunson could help them sneak into the play-in game. But right now, I’m not convinced that’s happening. It’s far more likely that we’ll see a young team that shows flashes or brilliance but overall lacks the star power and high-level talent to beat good and even mediocre teams consistently enough. I see Randle playing a tiny bit better than he did last season and the return of coach Thibodeau and his archaic coaching ways could lead to another frustrating season wondering where the movement is at. young people.
Lee Escobedo: No. And as contrary as it sounds, that shouldn’t be the main focus. Now that most veterans have been dispatched, it’s finally time to focus on youth and development. It will take some time for Jalen Brunson to adjust to a new role and a new team. He has only ever known the second violin of a generational talent. This Knicks team has nothing to do with it. But we have good vibes and a young and happy core. Something Brunson will add immediately. Giving youngsters the lion’s share of minutes will come with its fair share of bumps and bruises. There will be brutal stretching. The losses will pile up. But this young nucleus will finally have the opportunity to prove themselves and show us all what every young player is made of. And hey, another losing season also works in our favor, as we enter next year’s stacked draft with potentially five first-round picks.
Russell Richardson: Yeah. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the Eastern Conference is teeming with talent. All playoff teams have at least two respected players at their helm: Giannis, Jrue and Khris; Jaylen and Jason; Zach and DeMar; etc Jalen Brunson is a fantastic addition to the Knicks, but the team’s fate hinges on a few other factors. Will Julius Randle recover from a one-season dog? Will RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin continue to flourish, with one or more becoming worthy of All-Star consideration? Will Thibs be less rigid and find ways to maximize the talent entrusted to him? And even if the answers to all of these questions are yes, the Orient is still a beast. Rather than asking if the Knicks are a playoff team, I would ask if they are better than five other teams in the East, because if so, they can sneak into the play-in bracket. I say of course, why not? New York will be better than the Hornets, Wizards, Pacers, Pistons, Magic and the Nets, and try their luck as a play team. But, don’t listen to me. I predicted they would be third in the East last season and couldn’t shut up about their depth. Lesson learned.