Subpar Knicks Seeking Identity


On Saturday, January 8th, 2022, mobile betting was legalized in New York state.

Looking to make some money this weekend? Look no further, as the Knicks are an easy bet this Saturday, January 15th when they face the Atlanta Hawks. New York beat Atlanta in both matchups so far this season and they’re coming off an impressive win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Want to go even further? R.J. Barrett has thirty points in three of his last five games. The only Atlanta defender who held RJ to less than 50% from field-goal range was Cam Reddish, who just so happens to be the newest Knickerbocker.

A two-leg, same-game parlay with a combination of Barrett over 30+ points and a Knicks win would surely bring in some dough. RJ and Cam were teammates at Duke, so their chemistry should click right away. Cam is bound to have a revenge game against the team who traded him to their rival. Taking the Knicks is a no-brainer.

[pickup_prop id=”18909″]

Going Through Changes

Julius Randle regression, insufficient wing defense, and a shortage of playmaking. All of these Knicks sorrows were foretold by NBA analysts, and Knicks fans are downhearted as most of these predictions came true. This season feels like a failure so far, yet the team has the same record (21-21) through the same amount of games as last year.

So what went wrong? Why does this year feel like an underwhelming, poorly managed rollercoaster?

A Regressing Randle is a Bad One

For starters, a loss of identity. Randle is having his worst season as a Knick. A vital part of the team’s success last year was his all-star-worthy stature.

Regression would be putting it kindly, as his play on both sides has taken a dive.

Last season, Julius took 30% of his shots less than 10 feet from the basket. This season, that number increased to 35%.

It seems as though he is trying to draw more fouls, but the officials aren’t eager to give him superstar-esque foul calls. One season in the NBA doesn’t earn you that kind of treatment. Additionally, Randle’s free-throw attempts along with his free-throw percentage have dipped. He can often be seen complaining to the referees instead of hustling back on defense.

The Julius Randle we saw last season was a leader. Now it feels like the team’s leader is complaining about the rules while the rest of the squad is playing hard. Recently in a Knicks-Celtics matchup at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks were booed by fans as they played poorly early in the game. After battling back from a 25-point deficit, Randle could be seen giving a thumbs-down.

When asked about the gesture after the game, he explained what it meant.

Julius ended up apologizing for the crass remark. Still, it would be great to see him shut more people up. Not just frustrated Knicks fans, but the entire league. Randle needs to make regression a thing of the past and play aggressive.

Regardless of the whistle.

Gritty Defense Gone

NY’s second-best wing defender this season has been Immanuel Quickley. Great for IQ, but bad for the team. Quick is listed at 6’3, 190 lbs and that seems generous given his wiry frame.

Never did I think I would type or say this, but the Knicks desperately miss Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock.

With Payton and Bullock in the starting lineup last year, the team had a defensive rating of 103.0. With Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in their places, that number has shot up to 114.9 this season. Thankfully, the front office got ahead of the curve and snagged the aforementioned Reddish well before next month’s trade deadline.

Reddish is bound to do wonders for a defense that’s been torched throughout the season. A Rose/Barrett/Reddish/Randle/Robinson starting lineup would allow Fournier to come off the bench and alleviate the defense’s woes. Not to mention, the Knicks would be capable of defending teams with multiple offensive weapons (Nets, Wizards, Bucks, etc.) with Reddish and Barrett securing the perimeter.

Long Way to Go

The Reddish trade was great. It’s another example of just how competent Leon Rose and the rest of the front office staff are. The team could go on another late-season run like last year and end up with a fourth or fifth seed. Or, they could trudge their way to the ninth or tenth seed. No matter the outcome of this season, New York has a few years before they’ll be a top team in the Eastern Conference, which is why Knicks fans should just enjoy the ride until then.

As the saying goes, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”.

Rose Running Circles Around Competition

About Mike Perry

NBA and WNBA writer and podcaster

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