With the Knicks‘ season about to begin, here are five bold predictions on what’s about to unfold between now and April.
These are based on past performances and some conjecture.
Some predictions may be bolder than others, and are working off the assumption that injuries won’t play a major role…
Knicks secure home court in playoffs again
Why not? Most of the NBA world priced in regression for this Knicks team despite their evident improvements. They’re going to have a top 10 defense — a big help in accumulating regular season wins — and Tom Thibodeau-coached teams tend to have an intensity edge before the playoffs as well.
Some cite the rest of the East getting better, but there aren’t a great deal of threats. The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets likely top the standings, but the Miami Heat are extremely thin past its first seven guys and tends to perform better in the postseason.
The Atlanta Hawks should be trouble. The Boston Celtics suffered through COVID and injuries last year but are ultimately returning with a similar, and arguably worse roster. The Chicago Bulls had a splashy summer, signing non-winners who are an awkward fit with little defense.
It may have only been short glimpses in an injury-riddled season, but last year’s Robinson looked as if he took the biggest step in his NBA development yet. He’s not fully practicing yet, but came into training camp beefed up and more mature.
When healthy, he is a hugely impactful defensive presence, and should he stay healthy for most of this season, will earn honors for it. His physique and athleticism are matched by few, plus his defensive IQ is sure to keep climbing with a second season under Thibs.
This should not be a bold prediction. However, after standout second Knick seasons from the pair last year, many expect regression from them.
That is backwards nonsense. Randle is about to turn 27, entering his prime with added weapons around him. He’s improved every year he’s been in the league, excluding injury and David Fizdale-plagued seasons.
Barrett’s seemingly improved every month he’s been in the NBA, displaying the mental fortitude and work ethic any team wants out of a top pick. He just became eligible to drink in the United States this summer.
Randle making another All-NBA team should surprise nobody. Barrett joining him on an All-Star team if the Knicks have a strong record come February shouldn’t, either.
Derrick Rose wins Sixth Man of the Year
The Knicks won their fair share of individual accolades for their terrific 2020-21, including Randle’s Most Improved Player and Thibodeau’s Coach of the Year honors. Coming in a strong third for Sixth Man of the Year was Rose, despite spending a good part of the season hurt or toiling in a Detroit Pistons uniform.
Now he’s primed to spend a full season with the Knicks coming off his best season in years, and is sure to spend most of it as a reserve behind Kemba Walker. This gives him a real shot at the award, especially given how much more efficient he was than last year’s winner, Jordan Clarkson.
Knicks win a playoff series
This should be goal No. 1 for this team after an embarrassing postseason wipeout to the Hawks and a fruitful summer.
Leon Rose and Scott Perry brought in a former All-Star point guard and multifaceted wing to help ease the burden off Randle, who watched the tape back and knows he needs to be better.
We’re still a long way from April and seeding will play a huge role, but one thing we know is this Knicks team believes it can beat any of the other 29. So long as they aren’t matched up with the Bucks or Nets, there’s no reason to think they have an unrealistic chance at advancing to the second round this time.
Source: Yahoo Sports