6 Knicks crack ESPN Top 100 player rankings

knicks, jalen brunson
Apr 21, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter of game three of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have talent up and down their roster heading into the new NBA season, and the latest player rankings from the media gave credit to their top performers.

ESPN’s NBArank panel compiled their annual top 100 NBA players list and Mitchell Robinson (No. 100), Immanuel Quickley (No. 92), Josh Hart (No. 91), RJ Barrett (No. 73), Julius Randle (No. 47), Jalen Brunson (No. 32) all received placement.

Josh Hart Described As A “Difference-Maker”

The NBArank panel gave specific praise to Hart:

“Hart’s energy proved to be a difference-maker for the Knicks last season when he came over in a trade deadline acquisition from Portland, partnering with Quickley to revitalize New York’s second unit. The Knicks outscored teams by a staggering 11.9 points per 100 possessions in Hart’s 750 regular-season minutes on the court after the trade deadline last year.”


Were Quickley, Hart, and Robinson Ranked too Low?

Quickley reportedly added 10 pounds to his physique this offseason and led the way in the Knicks’ preseason opener against the Boston Celtics with 21 points in 23 minutes.

The fourth-year point guard is expected to give more of the same to the Knicks behind strong scoring and three-point shooting off the bench. With his new and improved frame, an uptick in defensive productivity can give him the edge he needs to take home Sixth Man of the Year.

Reserves Jordan Clarkson (Utah Jazz) and Robert Williams III (Portland Trail Blazers) got the nod over Quickley, and the latter’s play and season projection questions that.

Hart is one of if not the best rebounders at the shooting guard position. A talented pool of players ahead of him justifies his slot despite his ability to play multiple roles, up the tempo, and shoot above 50 percent from the field and from three.

Is Efficiency The Only Thing Standing in Knicks SF RJ Barrett’s Way?

Barrett’s efficiency line has been up and down since entering the league. His three-point percentage has steadily declined since 2021 and his field goal and free throw percentage have fluctuated in average territory.

Barrett has the talent to be a 25 PPG scorer and an All-Star in the league. How much his work in the offseason and training camp will translate to more efficient play remains to be seen but a 1-6 outing from the floor against Boston got him off to a poor start.

Will Jalen Brunson Take Over as Franchise Player For the Knicks?

Brunson ranking 15 spots ahead of Julius Randle is sure to catch people’s attention. Randle got his second All-Star nod and was All-NBA Third Team in 2022-23. He solidified himself as a legitimate 25 and 10 performer and is expected to replicate his numbers this year.

Brunson has taken considerable leaps in his last two seasons. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to increase his 6.2 assists from a season prior, but more shot opportunities may be hard to come by and in turn plateau his scoring average with Randle demanding the ball and Quentin Grimes carrying high expectations into the year.

He was ranked higher than Bradley Beal, Darius Garland, and Ja Morant — the latter of which will be sure to have his name floating in MVP conversations barring injury.

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