Do the Knicks have multiple hurdles to overcome on their road to the NBA Finals?

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) react to a play against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Delta Center
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are a much better team in this 2023-24 NBA season than they were a year ago. Nevertheless, the Knicks still have certain aspects of their team dynamic that have yet to be proven en route to an NBA Finals berth in the Eastern Conference and their hopeful championship victory come June.

Knicks have three unanswered questions ahead of the 2024 postseason

Stefan Bondy of the New York Post identified three areas that the Knicks will need to triumph in for their title chances to bear fruit. Bondy named the team’s health, competition, and franchise player Jalen Brunson as those three pivotal factors.

New York has been rattled with injuries since the middle of January. Julius Randle (shoulder), Isaiah Hartenstein (Achilles), Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring) and OG Anunoby (elbow) have all fallen victim to the injury bug.

The onslaught of absences has led to them dropping five of their last six contests. Additional bad news just surfaced that Randle may not return to full health this season.

That comes as a major blow to the Knicks and the high-level support that Brunson will need in order to lead them past some of the stiffest competition in the East.

The top-seeded Boston Celtics and former champions in the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat all have deep rosters that are battle-tested. The former two each have three scorers that are surefire 20-plus-point contributors in the playoffs and All-Star duos that can take that up a notch to 30 points on any given night.

Can Jalen Brunson lead the Knicks to a deep playoff run as their No. 1 option?

The Knicks fortified their depth with the acquisition of Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, but should Randle, who already has a history of playoff struggles, be hampered, there will be added pressure on Brunson to wage a Herculean effort.

The 2024 All-Star is having a career year and facilitating wins in high-scoring efforts. However, the game slows down in the postseason. Now the unequivocal focal point of the Knicks’ offense, Brunson will be tested with some of the best perimeter defenders in basketball, be it Jrue Holiday, Jimmy Butler, and a host of other stoppers.

The Knicks will see the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers twice (without reigning league MVP Joel Embiid), Bucks, and Celtics down the back half of the 2023-24 campaign. They’ll also face the defending champion Denver Nuggets before the postseason rolls around.

These key matchups will prove whether the Knicks can best their competition with Brunson at the helm, with or without all of their troops in uniform.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: