Projecting the New York Knicks’ rotation at full strength

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau high fives New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) and forward OG Anunoby (8) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks, despite being decimated by injuries in recent weeks, are 39-27 and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. At full strength, the Knicks roster boasts few weaknesses, however, decisions will have to be made once the team regains its health.

Knicks’ Starters: Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Isaiah Hartenstein

This five-man lineup has been one of the best in the NBA this season. Jalen Brunson has ascended to stardom, in the midst of the best season of his career and is headed towards being named to an All-NBA team. Julius Randle was having one of the most efficient seasons of his career prior to his injury, being named to his third All-Star team in five seasons with the Knicks.

Following the acquisition of OG Anunoby, the team only got better, and the results have been immediate. With Anunoby in the lineup, the Knicks have held their opponent to under 100 points in eight of Anunoby’s 16 games, dominating their opponents on the defensive end. In that same span, Anunoby’s plus/minus is an astounding +291, the third highest in the NBA since January 1st behind teammate Jalen Brunson (+303) and Boston Celtics F Jayson Tatum (+314).

One might notice that Mitchell Robinson is absent from this starting lineup. However, Isaiah Hartenstein has filled in extremely well in Robinson’s absence. In 34 starts, Hartenstein has averaged 7.4 points, 9.8 rebounds (3.6 offensive), 1.1 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game, while also being a +196 since January 1st. While it would not be a surprise to see Robinson inserted back into the starting lineup, head coach Tom Thibodeau has brought Robinson off the bench upon his return from injury in the past.

In 2021, the big man came off the bench for two games following a broken foot, and for 10 games the following season at various points as he dealt with back and ankle ailments. Given Thibodeau’s ways of sticking to a certain routine until he no longer can, it should come as no surprise if Hartenstein continues to start upon Robinson’s return.

Bench: Miles McBride, Josh Hart, Bojan Bogdanovic, Precious Achiuwa, Mitchell Robinson

This lineup makes the Knicks incredibly deep with Josh Hart coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man. Hart has been superb for the Knicks since the All-Star break, averaging 15.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists while shooting 36% from 3-point range in 11 games.

Miles McBride and Precious Achiuwa have played their way into the Knicks rotation, and deserve to stay there when the team becomes fully healthy. As for Bogdanovic, the hope is that he will benefit from having a more defined role once New York is at full strength, as he has struggled since being traded from the Detroit Pistons.

In 13 games with the Knicks, Bogdanovic is averaging 11.8 points per game, down from his 20.2 points per game that he averaged with Detroit this season, while shooting just 40% from the field and 36% from 3.

Situational: Shake Milton, Jericho Sims, Alec Burks

The big story here is Alec Burks. His second stint with the Knicks has been overshadowed by his poor performance on the court. Like Bogdanovic, Burks has struggled mightily since being traded from the Pistons, averaging just 7.1 points per game in 14 appearances, boasting paltry shooting percentages of 31% FG, and 28% 3P.

Despite being a long-time Thibodeau favorite, his patience may be running out with the 32-year-old, as Burks has seen his minutes decrease amidst his struggles, playing just 33 minutes combined over his last four games after averaging 18.8 minutes per game in his first seven appearances.

At full strength, the Knicks will boast one of the deepest, and most well-rounded rosters in the league. As the team enters the final stretch of the regular season, getting healthy and staying focused will be key if the Knicks wish to make a deep run in this year’s playoffs.

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