The New York Knicks’ Aren’t a “Savior” Away From Being Great

Ryan Garcia
New York Knicks, RJ Barrett
Oct 26, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett (9) reacts after being fouled during the second half against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In the sports world buzz about the New York Knicks needing a “savior” is constant, with people wanting the Knicks to just fire Dolan, or bring in this coach, or sign this player. The Knicks constantly get slack for not just bringing in one or two megastars and that’ll fix everything right? Well if the Brooklyn Nets show you anything it’s that bringing in 2 superstars won’t change anything until you have depth and competent ownership. The Nets have Caris Lavert and Spencer Dinwiddie to be ball-dominant scorers if they need to be, and a 3 point specialist in Joe Harris to be deadly from deep. The Knicks aren’t a star away, they’re an entire rebuild away.

The Knicks Can’t Lock Down a Fly

The Knicks defensive rating right now is 23rd out of 30 teams, which is abysmal, especially when you look at their recent draft pick RJ Barrett. The symbol of the future, he is supposed to help this team elevate in the near future and attract stars, but what’s so special about a 114.1 DEF rating? That’s awful and the Knicks need to build around his defensive liabilities or he has to develop as a better defender or else he will end up hurting the Knicks more than he is helping, because to make up for it he’ll have to have an offensive rating above his DEF rating, and it can’t be much higher because for context Doncic has the NBA’s best qualifying rating of 117.0. The Knicks need to figure out their identity defensively, or else they’re going to stink for a while.

No Direction in Drafting or Free Agency

Who exactly are the Knicks building around? The Hawks have been miserable but they are building around someone at least, but they are building around Trae Young who is a ball-dominant sharpshooter with defensive liabilities. By isolating a star and trying to build around what that star needs and can’t do, you end up with a great team. The Knicks aren’t building around Barrett, they’re just giving him the basketball and telling him to do whatever, which is reflecting by his 13 FGA per game with only 14.2 PPG. Sure he has 5 TRB a game, but that’s not enough to overlook his inability to score from 3, his 40.2 FG%, and sub-70% FT%. The Knicks should surround him with shooters then, right? Surely letting Barrett slash and crash to the paint and giving him perimeter options to pass out to would help the youngster.

The issue is that the Knicks are the 27th worst team in the NBA from 3, which is so unbelievably horrible. Adding Kyrie and KD would make you good but you’d still have 3 other defensive liabilities on the court that other than Julius Randle can barely score at an efficient rate. You also have a major lack of depth and would be done as soon as KD and Kyrie leaves. They don’t build around their draft picks, and that’s often their undoing.

How To Turn Things Around For the Knicks

The Knicks need to draft smart, there are no positions on that team that couldn’t use help but they need defensive help badly. The best player they can land with the most certainty when you account for the lottery is Onyeka Okongwu or Isaac Okoro who are defensively some of the best players in the draft, though Okongwu is the better scorer and could be the center of the future in NY. They could also draft in the early 2nd round either Jake Toolson or Stefan Gonzales who were the country’s 2 best three-point shooters in the shortened season. In free agency, they can get their cross-town rival’s 3 point specialist Joe Harris for some added 3 point depth and build from there. If they want to go big with Anthony Davis there’s no one who will say its a bad move but it’s unlikely and it won’t make the Knicks a championship-caliber team.

Build around your young talent, trying to rely on superstars coming to save you isn’t a healthy way to run your NBA team, and if you want to be good, build around Barrett and cover weaknesses that he can have exposed by other squads.