New York Knicks fans haven’t had much to cheer about as of late. After all, the team’s last postseason appearance occurred back in 2012-13. Now, they’re on the verge of heading back to the NBA playoffs.
The New York Knicks are one of the surprising teams heading to the NBA Playoffs
During their NBA playoffs drought, the Knicks have not won more than 37 games. This includes 17 and 21 wins, respectively, over the past two seasons.
However, the narrative has been a different one this season. With a 106-100 win over the Clippers on Sunday, the Knicks improved to 38-30, giving them seven wins over their last 10 outings.
Not only did their recent victory snap the team’s eight-game losing skid at the Staples Center, but it also helped them improve to 38-30 on the season. This mark is good enough for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference going into Monday night’s action.
So why is this Knicks’ team doing so well this season?
Veterans and Youth Leading Knicks
Well for starters, they have balance on the offensive end of the floor. In fact, the Knicks have seven players averaging double figures this season. No that is not a misprint. Taking that into consideration, this team has a number of players that can hurt the opposition.
One of those players putting up double digits is none other than former league MVP Derrick Rose. While his points per game are down a bit (14.8), Rose is having an efficient season on multiple fronts. For example, he’s shooting 48.8% from the floor. This is the second-highest conversion percentage of his career. Second, he’s knocking down 41.7% of his attempts from beyond the arc. Not too bad for a guy who is a career 31.1% shooting from 3-point range.
Another player having a noteworthy season for the Knicks is second-year standout RJ Barrett. Following a solid rookie campaign, Barrett has compiled averages of 17.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and three assists per contest. All of these numbers exceed his production from last season. It is also worth mentioning that Barrett is shooting 40.3% from long range on 4.2 attempts per contest.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Julius Randle is having an MVP-caliber season as well. He leads the Knicks in points per game (23.9), rebounds (10.3), and assists (5.9). Additionally, Randle is converting 41.3% of his attempts from the 3-point line. Simply put, he is the engine that makes this team go.
Let’s also talk about Tom Thibodeau. In his first year in the Big Apple, he has instilled a defensive mindset in this group. The Knicks lead the NBA in points allowed, giving up 105 points per contest. They also have the best defensive rating in the league, allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions. To put this stat into perspective, the team was 18th and 23rd in these categories last season.
To hammer the point home even further, the Knicks also lead the league in opponent field-goal percentage (44.2) and opponent 3-point shooting (33.9). Sure, it’s been a while since this team has been to the NBA playoffs. However, they are on the verge of ending their postseason drought. And if that happens, this team has the talent to go on a deep postseason run, something that was far from certain when the season began.
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