The New York Knicks have taken further steps at the start of the 2020-21 season. They are currently on a three-game winning streak and are sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 14-15 record. Given the low level of competition in their conference, the Knicks should at least play like a team and possibly compete for a playoff spot if they can continue to perform at this rate.
The main factor that contributed to the team’s turnaround this season was the arrival of head coach Tom Thibodeau. Although he has yet to win a head coaching title in his coaching career, his experience handling tennis players and leading teams to playoffs over the years will certainly come in handy for the Knicks.
Thibodeau’s training could also play a role in Julius Randle’s potential and ability to play at the highest level this season. The 26-year-old attacker is currently averaging 23.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 29 appearances.
His recent outstanding play also earned him his first all-star selection in a seven-year career. The entire team will certainly be counting on Randle’s production to help them reach the playoffs in the final stretch of the regular season.
Sophomore tight end RJ Barrett has also given the Knicks a boost this season. In 29 games, he averaged 16.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. However, it will be harder to keep him if he can only develop a more regular three-point shot, as he only catches 30.3% of the arc.
Another valuable contributor to the Knicks this season is rookie goaltender Immanuel Quickley. The late selection in the first round of selections continues to prove that he should have been selected higher in mid-November. As a substitute, he averaged 12.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 19.3 minutes for the Knicks.
Another major story for the team this season could be the return of veteran playmaker Derrick Rose. He won’t necessarily score more than 20 points a game, but his leadership skills on and off the field will certainly benefit the team’s young players in the long run.
In my opinion, Rose will see more minutes if the Knicks reach the playoffs, where he will have to play the same role that Rajon Rondo played for the Los Angeles Lakers last season.
Mitchell Robinson, Elfrid Payton, Obi Toppin and Alec Burks will also play their supporting roles for the team throughout the season. At this point, the Knicks still have no playoff experience, which is a very valuable asset for any team looking to continue long after the season.
However, Tom Thibodeau and his team have managed to lay the foundation on which they will build in the coming years. Fortunately for them, they settle into a low-quality Eastern Conference that has been known for its struggling teams in recent years.
A little competition for the top eight spots will certainly benefit the Knicks, who are experiencing an uptick in activity. They may not be in the running for the championship yet, but they can certainly surprise a team or two at the start of the postseason if they can keep playing at this pace.
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