The State of the New York Knicks is not What Anyone Thought it Would Be
The New York Knicks have been one of the most up and down NBA teams this season, as it seems as of the last two months or so they win one game and lose two. The inconsistencies have been with the team ever since their 5-1 start to the season and now (once again) they are back to being just one game below .500 with a 20-21 record. There has been three main factors to the Knicks struggles and those factors have been COVID with players out multiple games, missed opportunities as for example Obi Toppin gets a starter chance and he gets 2 points in one game and 19 in the other as it just seems like he is not cut out to be a starter and the third factor being is that the suppose ‘top players’ have not shown up this season.
COVID killed the team in the month of December with at one point we saw over five players out at once, that’s a whole rotation. The missed opportunities have been mainly from the bench players who were racking up the points off the bench, carrying the team and then choked when they got the starter chance over the COVID stretch. Most importantly though is the starting five, the everyday players of the New York Knicks who get more than 20 minutes per game. The starting five has been horrible this season, down below is a list of every player who started a game at least five times or more and how they have handled it (ALL STATS LISTED AS OF 1/11/22.)
Nerlens Noel - 10 GS - Noel is a top defensive player who can swat the ball and block shots, besides that well that’s it. Poor offense makes it seem like there are only four players on the court when they have possession of the ball, along with missing a majority of the beginning of the season due to injuries have made Noel seem more of a bench player than anything.
Alec Burks - 15 GS - Burks was a three point master at the end of last season and picked up from where he left off for this season when he was on the bench. Burks got the callup to the starting rotation when Kemba Walker was fully benched, he played extremely well for about the first 4-5 games, but became inconsistent as he now is mainly back to his bench role.
Kemba Walker - 24 GS - Kemba Walker flatout sucked in the first half of the season, which led to him being fully benched for over 20 days. Walker finally returned when the Knicks lost almost half of their players due to COVID, when Walker came back had a Jeremy Lin like run where for about a 3-4 game span he dropped over 20 points per game on average. Overall though, Kemba Walker has been one of the worst players on the team.
Mitchell Robinson - 27 GS - Mitchell Robinson is having one of his best career seasons so far. He has the great defense like Nerlens Noel but the big separator is the fact that Robinson can ball. Robinson averages 7ppg, respectable for a big man. Robinson and Noel usually split the starter role depending on the game, but Robinson has made the best of it as he holds more rebounds, blocks and points per game than Noel. The 23 year old is setting himself up for a powerful second half of the season.
RJ Barrett - 33 GS - RJ Barrett would most likely have over 35 games started this season if it was for COVID. The young gun has had a solid season, but comes late in games. Barrett, unlike last season he has not been consistent through the whole game as he usually comes out late in the second half. Despite that he still is able to average 15ppg, not superstar material but the 21 year old is sure shaping into one. The biggest thing is though is that Barrett’s name has popped up in many trade rumors, which makes you wonder if the Knicks would trade one of their star players?
Evan Fournier - 38 GS - If Evan Fournier played against the Boston Celtics everyday then he would be one of the best players in basketball, but he does not. Fournier was acquired over the offseason and was highly hyped up going into the 2021-22 season, he has not lived up to that. 13ppg along with just 1astpg is just pure G League numbers, Fournier is nowhere near his old self and frankly I think he would perform much better in a smaller role outside the starting lineup.
Julius Randle - 38 GS - Fans have always backed up Julius Randle ever since he became a Knick, even when he had that horrible playoff series against Atlanta fans still called into talk shows to defend him. Julius Randle lost all support of New Yorkers the moment he gave the “Shut the f up” thumbs down. Randle has been the most up and down Knick as he puts up 20+ points in one game and can’t even get five in the next, despite that he leads the team in all three of the major categories. Even though Randle has been nowhere near clutch this season and has let the team down multiple times, he is still the best player on the team stat wise. So many fans call for Randle to be traded but that simply makes zero sense as the Knicks would lose their top player.