The New York Knicks are coming off of a very successful 2020-21 campaign. In this resurgent season, they made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and reestablished a winning culture in New York. Although, the Knicks fell short in the playoffs, after making new additions to the team expectations for next season are high.
New York Knicks 2021-22 Season Preview
Recap of Last Season
Last season, the Knicks surprised fans and analysts as they earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks were led by Julius Randle, who made tremendous improvements in his all-around game and deservingly won the Most Improved Player award. Randle significantly developed his playmaking skills, doubling his assist numbers (from three to six assists) from the season prior. Randle also made notable jumps in his outside shooting. The power forward shot an impressive 41% from beyond the arc. Over the 2020 off-season, the 26-year-old worked very hard in the gym to go from the detriment of the team to the leader who had a great impact on winning. Derrick Rose also proved to be a key factor in the Knicks winning. The former MVP contributed substantially. He was a major offensive threat and ended up with the best net rating on the team.
In the playoffs, the Knicks were embarrassed by the Atlanta Hawks in just five games. Neither RJ Barrett nor Randle looked ready for the playoff stage. Barrett shot 29% from downtown, compared to his 40% three-point shooting in the regular season. Randle was even worse, shooting 30% from the field. This could be attributed to the duo’s lack of playoff experience. Nonetheless, it was made clear that the team needed more offense.
In the offseason, the Knicks acquired Evan Fournier from the Boston Celtics under a $78 million four-year deal. The Frenchman struggled to find a rhythm in Boston. However, in Orlando, Fournier averaged 19.7 points on 46% shooting. While this still may have been a slight overpay, Fournier provides the Knicks with shot-creation and reliable isolation offense – just what they need. Knicks fans are hoping that the three-level scorer can help to get New York out of the scoring droughts they had last year.
This alone was not enough to feel good about, hence the Knicks front office also brought in Kemba Walker on a two-year, $18 million contract, a bargain for a player of his caliber. Walker is ecstatic to be back in his hometown, New York. He is a huge upgrade from Elfrid Payton and will bring further playmaking and depth to the Knicks. The looming concern with the former Celtics Guard is whether he can stay healthy. Walker has had knee problems since the start of 2020, which significantly reduced his production for Boston.
In the 2021 Summer League, Knicks sophomore Obi Toppin soared. Coming off of a disappointing rookie season, Toppin averaged an impressive 21 points and 8.3 boards this summer. He looked confident, athletic, and active when playing, unlike the 2020-21 season. Additionally, fan-favorite Immanuel Quickley struggled with his shooting in the summer league. Nevertheless, he had a few great games and showed off his improved playmaking. Rookies Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Jericho Sims also showed out. The Knick’s young core for the future is looking stronger than ever now.
After a solid off-season, the expectation for the Knicks is that they will make the playoffs again. Teams in the east have improved significantly, in particular the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat, but the Knicks will still certainly be able to compete with them.
Embed from Getty Images