Former New York Knicks great Jamal Crawford has been vocal about the status of the franchise that he made his bones with and where he sees them stacking up against elite competition in the Eastern Conference.
After Crawford’s confidence in the Knicks initially wavered at the beginning of the season, their recent trade for O.G. Anunoby has magnified his optimism, as he revealed per NBA.com:
“They’re better after the trade, for sure. I don’t know if they’ve reached the “for real” (or) contender status yet,” Crawford exclaimed. “But they definitely improved and the trade was needed. I think they’re top six in the East now.”
Anunoby’s Impact on the Knicks’ Recent Winning Streak Cannot Be Denied
The Knicks are 5-1 since Anunoby entered the fold. They’ve added frontcourt depth following Mitchell Robinson’s ankle injury and have gelled well in a short amount of time.
What lacks is a potent third scorer who has proven himself to be reliable in the clutch in big playoff moments. Jalen Brunson (25.8 PPG) and Julius Randle (24.4 PPG) have the ingredients that most championship teams have had throughout the history of the league.
However, Anunoby has taken a backseat in the scoring department in 2023-24. Their defense is as formidable as it’s been in the Randle era, and Anunoby’s NBA record +111 plus/minus through his first five games in New York is an encouraging sign.
Is More Needed For the Knicks to Down Powerhouses Out East?
Where Crawford’s reluctance bears truth lies in the Knicks’ playoff shortcomings. Case in point, against the Miami Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals series, the Knicks only had one player shoot above 43 percent, not Robinson or Isaiah Hartenstein.
Their efficiency was lacking, the pace of play left room for more speed, and help for Brunson was not strong enough from Randle and RJ Barrett.
In order for the Knicks to beat the Milwaukee Bucks — who have two bonafide stars that have averaged 30 PPG multiple times, and the Boston Celtics juggernaut offense, the Knicks may need one more it-factor piece to get them over the hump and have Crawford buy into their championship prospects.