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New York Knicks – Contenders or Pretenders?

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle

New York Knicks fans are easily dissatisfied. This year, however, they are dissatisfied for a good reason. After a fourth-place finish in the eastern conference last season, the Knicks have replicated almost no aspects of their 2021 success. Julius Randle has returned to his 2019 form, Derrick Rose has been sidelined for nearly the entire season, and free-agent signings Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker have been almost literally worthless. But despite the flaws this season, there is hope for a second-half comeback. The Knicks are only a few games out of the play-in spot, so it’s best if we actually take a look, and see if there is some hope. 

New York Knicks – Contenders or Pretenders?

The Backcourt

The New York Knicks backcourt this year has raised nothing large question marks. Who is the Knicks point guard for the future? Is the young talent promising enough to give even more rotational minutes? Tom Thibodeau has failed to provide a reasonable response to either of these, but there are hints that the sophomore coach can give fans more of what they want. 

In his limited minutes as of late, Miles McBride has seemed to be the obvious answer to the first question I have posed. However, regardless of the future, it seems that Thibodeau will roll with Alec Burkes. The veteran Burkes has filled this role ever since Kemba Walker was benched earlier in the season, and it is unlikely that Thibodeau will want to move away from Burkes.

However, Knicks fans will find the second answer a lot more appealing. Upon his return from injury, Quinten Grimes is expected to return to the starting lineup. Considering his play as of late, this will boost the Knicks’ chances of making a playoff run, and also give the rookie more experience playing in games that matter. 

The Frontcourt

The Knicks’ center position has been one of the most perplexing all season, with Mitchell Robinson being the sole constant. In the battle for the backup center position, the high-flying rookie Jericho Sims will prevail. He has just played over ten minutes in 11 games this season, but considering his performances he is likely to retain his role. 

Not much has changed in regards to the power forwards situation of the Knicks so far this season. Julius Randle has had his position on lock-down since the beginning of the season, and that is unlikely to change. Obi Toppin has had himself an efficient season so far, playing his role to near perfection. He has seen significant improvement in his three-point shooting, but in most areas, Obi has yet to progress. 

The Knicks’ Potential X-Factor

If the Knicks want any chance to continue in their pursuit of a chance to make the playoffs, their hopes rest on the shoulders of Julius Randle. His performances this season have been up to the same standard as they were in 2021. That comes at the cost of the Knicks playoff spot. However, a deep look at these stats will argue that the change needs to be as drastic as ever for the Knicks to even think about one of these four coveted playoff spots. 

New York Knicks Verdict

It should be rather obvious at this point that the Knicks are nothing other than pretenders. As stated previously, the Knicks have been rather inconsistent in terms of their output. It will take a colossal turnaround for the Knicks to make the play in. The Knicks also have the 20th most difficult schedule remaining, making this comeback seem even more difficult. Obviously, a miracle month from Julius Randle can affect the Knicks’ playoff odds, but if the current pace holds, the only thing the Knicks will contend for is the number one pick. 

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