Does the Knicks’ recent blockbuster trade make them NBA Finals favorites?

Knicks, Mikal Bridges
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the NBA off-season has a blockbuster trade or signing that elevates an organization to new heights. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics are the most recent examples, and now the New York Knicks join the pack.

They were monikered the “Nova Knicks” all last season and doubled down on that this offseason, pulling off a trade to acquire star guard Mika Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets.

This officially brings together a core of former college teammates as Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, Ryan Arcidiacano, and now Mikal Bridges are on the same NBA roster. This trade makes history as it is the first time the Nets and Knicks have traded in 40 years. This is also the first time that five college teammates are playing on the same team in the NBA. A historical shift of powers has New York with the second-best odds to win the NBA Championship next season, tied with the Denver Nuggets and only trailing the Boston Celtics. 

Mikal Bridges is a perfect fit in the Knicks’ lineup

Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) looks to drive past New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) looks to drive past New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Mikal “Iron Man” Bridges prides himself on his best ability — availability. He has not missed a single game since high school, playing 474 straight games to begin his career, per ESPN. And that demeanor paired with a head coach willing to play his guys 40+ minutes in entire week stretches is a recipe for unbridled success.

There is a balance to be restored, with new depth means fewer minutes of wear and tear coming off of a season devastated by injuries. Last season, Bridges averaged 19.6 PPG while playing all 82 games, with an average of 15.8 FGA per game. This production makes Bridges a seamless fit on the New York Knicks that saw players such as Donte DiVincenzo playing well above his role, taking 12.4 FGA per game.

It saw a career year from DiVincenzo but was not deemed sustainable come playoff time. Bridges’ role will be another ball handler on the floor with Jalen Brunson, capable of scoring and facilitating, making the game easier for Julius Randle and OG Anunoby.

What does this trade mean for Julius Randle?

Nov 20, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) against Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2024 NBA Draft from Barclays Center, Richard Jefferson alluded that some players on the Knicks will have to sacrifice willingly for this new lineup with Bridges to work. The player Jefferson mentioned notably was Julius Randle.

All three of Randle’s All-Star seasons have seen him attempt 18+ shots per game, but with Bridges in the fold, will Randle be easily swayed to give up accolades for the team?

OG Anunoby’s fit was also seamless, only taking an average of 11 FGA in the last three seasons. However, even he wants a bigger role on offense. Time will tell, with Randle being the longest-tenured, and a walking 24/10 player running the offense through him may be the answer the Knicks are looking for. Maybe Bridges is the one who takes a step back unless he has the hot hand. 

Why the Knicks could win the 2025 NBA Finals 

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau high fives New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) and forward OG Anunoby (8) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have made the moves to win now. Mikal Bridges is the perfect fit for this team. His added variety offensively and spectacular defensive presence alongside OG Anunoby on the wings will make New York a nightmare for the opposition. The only disclaimer on this journey will be health.

Solidifying the frontcourt will be a priority this offseason for New York as decisions on Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein are still pending. Following last season, die-hard fans aren’t looking to get their hopes too high. However, with a new set of standards for winning, the team and its fans have raised the expectation level of the New York Knicks, and anything less than that will not suffice.

The Knicks have everything they need to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. From the front office to the head coach to the commentary to the rotation, this is the best the New York Knicks have potentially ever looked. This team is the best collection of players since the historic 1970 and 1973 NBA champion Knicks teams. Four potential all-stars in Randle, Brunson, Bridges, and Anunoby sit on this roster with monster talents of Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo off the bench.

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