Knicks: Top storylines to follow in first preseason game

julius randle, knicks, evan fournier

The wait is over as the New York Knicks return to the court for their first preseason game of the year tonight. With NBA basketball officially back, the Knicks are hosting the Boston Celtics tonight at Madison Square Garden. There is a rare excitement among Knicks fans, and by the looks of the association, the hype should only rise throughout the season. 

Knicks will match up against familiar faces against the Celtics this preseason

The Knicks and Celtics will meet twice this preseason and on the opening night of the regular season. These preseason matchups allow New York to test their endurance and continuity out of the gate.

Following the acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, many expect the Celtics to be the favorite out of the East this season. The Knicks are running it back, adding to their core’s chemistry with a few key pieces.

New York is in full force entering the preseason

The Celtics had their first preseason game last night, and time will tell if there will be any back-to-backs from stars as this is the preseason. New York has no listed injuries, despite Julius Randle having ankle surgery this offseason.

Since he is fully recovered, expect Randle to lead by example and give it a go tonight. The Knicks will be in full force tonight following a training camp that saw Evan Fournier getting shots up in preparation for this season. 

Will Evan Fournier get a chance to prove himself?

Leading the Knicks in threes made for the 2021-22 season, Evan Fournier is an excellent shooter, but Coach Tom Thibodeau requires defense from top to bottom in the rotation.

Coach Thibs took an approach rarely seen across the league. He benched the $18 million per year Fournier. Last season saw a culture shift as both Derrick Rose and Fournier saw their minutes decrease drastically.

Yet, only Fournier is still signed by the Knicks and voices his displeasure with not getting playing time. Fournier has been making disparaging comparisons to his place in the team’s rotation. But, ultimately, “he gets his work in…stays ready” per star teammate Jalen Brunson.

Boosting Fournier’s trade value through the preseason

The simple reason Fournier is not in the lineup is his lack of defense compared to the players ahead of him in the team’s guard rotation. 

The Knicks had a top-five-rated team offense last regular season but a top-20 team defense. Benching Fournier was a risky move considering the Knicks have wanted a decent return for him in a trade.

With New York and Fournier on the same page, expecting him to get runs in the preseason won’t be far-fetched. Allowing other teams to watch what Fournier brings and having him “ball out” would entice young teams looking for veteran depth at the guard position.