New York Knicks Offseason Grades

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The New York Knicks have struggled for a long time. Last year was no different. With much of the offseason complete for the New York Knicks, let’s have a look at how that offseason played out.

New York Knicks Offseason Grades

NBA Draft

Obi Toppin- Power Forward, University of Dayton, 8th overall

New York Knicks president Leon Rose had his eyes set on Obi Toppin from the beginning. Considered a top 5 talent heading into this draft, he will be thrilled that Toppin dropped to 8.

Obi Toppin was National Player of the Year after a huge offensive season for Dayton. Armed with elite leaping ability, his craft around the basket and thunderous dunks drew a lot of early comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire. Furthermore, he handles the ball well and shoots well from range.

Toppin’s downside is his defense. He’s considered an average rebounder, but with a defensive-minded head coach in Tom Thibodeau, this should be improved upon. Toppin is a potential rookie of the year candidate.

Immanuel Quickley- Point Guard, University of Kentucky, 25th overall

Immanuel Quickley was a surprise pick, he played at Kentucky where new Knicks assistant Kenny Payne came from. He won SEC Player of the Year and is known as a really good perimeter scorer. This is a massive need for the Knicks as they were very light in shooters on the roster. Quickley is also considered a hard-worker by his coaches.

However, he is an undersized guard and while he plays the point guard position, he isn’t seen as a primary ball-handler. Some saw this as a surprise pick, as some scouts had a 2nd round grade on him.

It appears the New York Knicks draft experts leaned on their knowledge of Kentucky with this selection. This could be an under-rated pick due to his shooting.

Draft Grade: B+

Free Agency

President Leon Rose had upwards of $40 million to spend heading into this offseason. However, once the New York Knicks top targets Gordon Hayward, who signed a 4 year $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets, and Fred VanVleet re-upped with the Toronto Raptors, the Knicks brass opted for prudence.

Therefore, Alec Burks (1 year $6million), Austin Rivers (3-year $10 million, 1 year guaranteed), Elfrid Payton (1 year $5 million), and Nerlens Noel (1 year, $5 million) were acquired.

Burks is a good 3-point shooter, averaging 15 points per game for the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers last year. This could be a nice under-the-radar pickup. Austin Rivers was consistent coming off the bench for the Houston Rockets providing quality minutes behind James Harden. Nerlens Noel should be a solid back-up center for Mitchell Robinson defensively.

Perhaps the shrewdest deal was renting out $5 million in cap space for Ed Davis’ contract in a trade with Utah, then immediately moving it for future 2nd round picks in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Renting cap space for assets is wise during a rebuild.

Free Agency Grade: C–

Overall

It’s fair to conclude the New York Knicks were uninspiring, yet prudent in free agency. Following a nice draft, they showed a more tempered approach after failing to sign their top targets in free agency.

It remains to be seen whether this restraint will pay dividends down the line, considering the previous regime adopted a similar free agent strategy last year. To acquire talent you need to have talent, and this was not sufficiently addressed this offseason, particularly at point guard.

They still have cap flexibility, however, and it would be wise to consider potentially moving Julius Randle as a trade piece. Randle is a nice player, but because he plays in Toppin’s position, and Toppin excels in pick and roll situations, a quality point guard can enhance his progress. Toppin’s progress is imperative for this coming season.

To conclude, the Knicks are once again hoping patience is a virtue in their rebuild following a tempered approach to their offseason.

Overall Offseason Grade: C

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