ESPN analyst shares high praise for the Knicks: ‘The second best team in Eastern Conference’

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
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 23-16. They sit seven games back of the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks, and just two games back of the No. 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers. Despite where they are in the standings, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins is fully bought in on the New York Knicks.

ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins has high expectations for this year’s Knicks team

In a recent episode of ESPN’s NBA Today, Perkins states that he believes the Knicks are the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, with the only team better than them being the Boston Celtics. Perkins believes that other than Boston, New York has what it takes to beat any team in the East in a playoff setting, including the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, two teams that many believe are a tier above the Knicks.

Brunson’s play of late has drawn high praise from national media

Perkins also spoke very highly of G Jalen Brunson, saying he is capable of dominating any playoff series with the exception of a matchup with the Celtics. Brunson has proven to be a playoff performer in the past.

In the 2021-2022 season, Brunson averaged 21.6 points per game through 18 playoff games, a substantial jump from his regular season average of 16.3 points per game. Last season, in his first season with the Knicks, Brunson averaged 27.8 points per game over 11 playoff games, another sizable rise from his regular season average of 24.0 points per game.

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Knicks will need to improve against contending teams to back up Perkins’ statements

For the Knicks to back up Perkins’ statements, they still have some work to do. Entering January 15th, New York is undefeated against teams under .500, going 16-0. However, they have struggled mightily against over .500, going just 7-16, including a combined 1-6 record against the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.

OG Anunoby addition has made an instant impact on Knicks’ ceiling

Despite this, the acquisition of F OG Anunoby has seemed to already pay dividends and was likely the driving factor behind Perkins’ bold statements about the team. New York is 6-1 in the seven games he has appeared in, including emphatic wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philadelphia 76ers. In addition, New York also has the league’s best defensive rating, as well as the net rating.