Knicks

Knicks Cashing in on Deuce McBride’s December Extension

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In the 2021 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks were in an interesting spot.

Coming off their best season in nearly a decade and their first playoff appearance since 2013, they were in a place where they could have continued to patiently build on the foundation they had laid, or pushed all of their chips into the center of the table.

They elected the former, and played a more cautious hand in the draft. Multiple trades were made in which the team moved down in the draft to select Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Rokas Jokubaitis and Jericho Sims.

While Grimes showed some early promise, he fell out of favor of head coach Tom Thibodeau this season and was eventually traded to the Pistons. The opposite can be said about another one of the teams’ 2021 draft picks, as he gained the trust of his coach, teammates and fans across the country.

Miles “Deuce” McBride entered the league as an undersized combo-guard. The common perception of him was that he was a tenacious on-ball defender with an incredibly high motor and steady catch-and-shoot jump shot. Standing at just 6’1″ without elite athleticism or playmaking, it was questioned what position he would play in the NBA. Those questions have been answered, and those attributes have expanded this season into a Swiss Army Knife, dynamic NBA role player.

He started off as a rookie appearing in 40 games, playing just over nine minutes per game. He shot 29.6% from the field and an even more abysmal 25% from three-point range. Last season, his sophomore year, we saw a steady improvement in each of those categories, up to 35.8% from the field and 29.9% from three-point range in 64 games.

Here in year three, the explosion began. Once RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley were traded, and the Knicks were dealing with multiple injuries to key front-line players, Deuce seized his opportunity. He is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Raising your three-point percentage from 25% to 41% in less than two years is simply improbable, but Deuce did just that. He has always been a pest defensively, but it was only a matter of time before the offense filled out behind it.

Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, Isaiah Hartenstein and even Jalen Brunson have all dealt with injuries at one point or another, so self-creation on offense was at a premium with them on the shelf. McBride’s unrelenting confidence regardless of how hot (or cold) he is has been critical for the Knicks in the stretch run of the season. He has multiple sequences of burying a contested catch-and-shoot three pointer, proceeding to pick up the opponents’ point guard defensively full court, and force a turnover.

Under Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks have built a strong reputation of out-working their opponents and making it incredibly frustrating to play against. McBride perfectly embodies that philosophy, and he wants to make life on the court for his counterpart as difficult as possible.

Even though his playing time has taken a slight dip in the last week due to the return of some key players, over the last 10 games he is still averaging 13.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game on 45% shooting from the field and 42% from deep, including a 29-point, seven-assist, nine-three-pointers-made game.

https://twitter.com/IQfor3/status/1773397751256027380

To piggyback on all of this fantastic play, the Knicks signed him to a three-year, $13 million contract extension on December 30. He has completely outplayed the average annual value on that deal and will be a key asset for the team moving forward.

Without his dead-eye perimeter shooting, capable offensive initiation and playmaking, and relentless on- and off-ball defense, the Knicks potentially could have dropped significantly in the Eastern Conference standings when they were faced with adversity. Instead, they are inching closer to a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Knicks fans have been starving for sustained success for years. This year’s team is the best the franchise has had in over a decade, and Deuce McBride’s Year 3 arrival on the scene is a large reason for it. The rapid development and hard work he has shown throughout this season will be rewarded with playing time, and in turn shot-making, and winning. He’s going to play a key role in igniting the flame off the bench for Tom Thibodeau and continue to be a pillar of a true contender to reach the NBA Finals.

About Tim Fell

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