New York Knicks basketball is back. With the best roster, top to bottom through 20 years, the Knicks are still a sleeper to win or be considered a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.
A slow preseason overall suggests another sleeper season for the Knicks, but unlike past seasons, the aura of consistency favors New York over their Eastern conference counterparts.
Knicks Preseason Grades
Jalen Brunson: B
Jalen Brunson’s stock league-wide is more respected and recognized as he’s taken the reigns, being a leader for the Knicks. Despite a rather unexpected letdown by Team USA during the FIBA tournament, Brunson was praised by Head Coach Steve Kerr for his pacing, approach, and game management.
Following a hectic off-season, Brunson saw little extended playing time this preseason. Averaging 10 points and three assists, the Knicks know what Brunson delivers and focused more on getting reps for the entire rotation.
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Quentin Grimes: B+
Seeing 21 minutes per game on the floor this preseason, Quentin Grimes has been excellent as a starting shooting guard. With a much improved three-point shot, as well as innate tendencies on the defensive end, Grimes has set himself with high expectations this upcoming season.
Perimeter defense will be the thorn for the Knicks early. The communication between Grimes and RJ Barrett when chemistry is peak will see both players showing their capabilities as steps are expected of both players.
RJ Barrett: A+
RJ Barrett left the playoffs last season and went straight to work. The year five prodigy has taken the necessary reps to ensure significant improvements in his three-point shooting and free throws.
In the preseason, Barrett saw 25 minutes per game, averaging 18 points per contest. Seemingly getting to the line at will, this more developed facet of Barrett’s game will ensure pressure on opposing defenses.
Any matchup on Barrett, if he sees an edge physically, those are free throws. Expect a tremendous rise in both his usage and points per game early as Randle is recovering well from his ankle injury last season.
Julius Randle: A
Following an ankle injury last season, the slow grind is very much expected from Julius Randle to return to elite prominence. The new spokesman for Sketchers knows no limits, posting 12 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes per game.
With the Knick’s expectations as high as they’ve ever been, nothing is possible without a formidable Julius Randle. The two-time all-NBA talent has been the catalyst for the blue-collar culture the Knicks are known for. This season, as he gets more healthy, the playoffs will be the ultimate test for Julius Randle.
Mitchell Robinson: B
Mitchell Robinson’s effectiveness is deeply undervalued. The best offensive rebounder in the entire NBA plays for the New York Knicks. In 22 minutes per contest, Robinson averaged 10 points and eight rebounds.
He looks the best he’s ever looked coming into a season, the motivation on Robinson’s part to get better roots in the expectations laid by Coach Thibodeau. Surpassing set expectations has been Robinson’s motor, and this bodes tremendously for the upside of the New York Knicks this season.
A tremendous collection of talent from top to bottom, the New York Knicks are dark horses this upcoming season. Both the Celtics and Bucks have made moves to bolster their already star-studded cast. Many believe the Knicks don’t have the will to go toe to toe against the best the East has to offer.
To any doubters, point them to the Cavaliers series last playoffs, and the level stars like Brunson and Randle reached as that was only their first season together. Both consistency and longevity add to the chemistry associated with winning championships, and the Knicks have that recipe better than any team in the East.