The New York Knicks certainly made a splash in free agency, all without signing a superstar player to help rebuild the franchise from the ground up. With the amount of youth featuring on the team, it was essential head coach David Fizdale injected some veteran leadership into the starting team and roster-depth.
Here are the grades for the New York Knicks signings:
Marcus Morris: B
Averaging 13.9 points per game last season, Morris puts up solid numbers on the offensive side of the ball, however, he’s a bully in the paint and can also drain threes (.375% in 2018). My concern with Morris is that he will burry Kevin Knox on the bench and will take essential playing time away from the second-year player.
Competition is part of the game, though, so Knox will have to stand up to the challenge and play his best basketball.
Julius Randle: B+
At just 24-years-old, Randle is an up and coming athlete that averaged 21.4 points per game and 8.7 total rebounds per game last year. He’s an above-average player and will likely be the most influential and impactful signing the Knicks make this year.
As a natural power forward, he will slot right into the starting role. The issue is his defense, as he seems to be lazy at times and will let offensive-minded players take advantage of that weakness. That’s a part of his game he must work on.
Wayne Ellington: C+
The Knicks needed to add shooters badly after an extremely rough offensive outing in 2018 as a whole. A solid shooter from three (.371% in 2018), Ellington can make an impact in a hurry on offense. He averaged a bit over 23 minutes per game last year, making him a capable rotational player.
He has value on offense, something the Knicks desperately needed to assist this offseason.
Elfrid Payton: C
Payton is a decent player, but the Knicks are still looking to start Dennis Smith Jr. who’s been working tirelessly on his perimeter shot with shooting coach Keith Smart in Westchester. Elfrid can be a suitable backup for Smith Jr., but his presence pushes Frank Ntilikina back on the depth chart.
It seems as if the Frenchman has seen his last starting opportunity in the Big Apple. Averaging 10.6 points per game from Payton should be good for the offense.
Taj Gibson: B
I love this signing, as he will be the primary mentor for Mitchell Robinson. The 10-year veteran center can instill some important knowledge into the young player, something he will need to take his game to the next level.
Playing in 24 minutes per game last season, Gibson still has some juice left in the tank, but I imagine him playing a secondary role in 2019-20 while the Knicks stick with Bobby Portis and Robinson at the center spot.
Bobby Portis: B-
The Knicks brought in Portis to essentially compete with Robinson for the big-man spot. Portis played 77 percent of his minutes at center last season, which will give him the upper hand in securing the role. The only issue is his defense, which is utterly terrible.
He’s a solid scorer averaging 14.3 points per game last year, but he averaged less defensive rebounds than Julius Randle at 6.4. I anticipate Robinson earning more playing time, but we can’t rule out Portis as a potential starter.
Reggie Bullock: C
We likely won’t see Bullock for quite some time after having a cervical herniated disk operation. The recovery time is about six months before he can even participate in physical contact drills.
Being that he will likely make a very minimal impact at most on next season, the $4 million he will earn will have been an absolute waste. The Knicks struck out big time with Bullock who will have to fight the team option next year.