The New York Knicks need more than just a young team

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett
Mar 11, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) talks with forward Maurice Harkless (3) during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

With news that the New York Knicks are retaining general manager Scott Perry for another season, I’ve noticed a lot of fans are divided about where the Knicks currently stand. There seems to be no consensus that the team is headed in the right direction.

I, like many other Knicks fans, am a huge advocate of developing youth. Watching high draft picks to sit on the bench behind mediocre role players is frustrating to watch. With that said, I’ve noticed a reluctancy amongst fans to even entertain the idea of spending money or trading away young players.

The defense for Scott Perry seems to be “He hasn’t done anything catastrophic”. I do agree with that statement. However, it seems as though many fans see the Knicks team as a video game, where every season the young players’ ratings will just keep going up and up until they are a contender. Going into the team’s 4th straight season with a lottery pick, does that look to be the case?

Trust the process

Drafting and developing young players is what everyone wants. “Trusting the process” was made famous by Sam Hinkie’s 76ers when they suffered historically bad seasons but drafted future franchise cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who have turned them into a perennial playoff team.

With the lottery odds being even more random than they were a few years ago, does this strategy work?

The Knicks have been in the draft lottery for three straight years. Let’s take a look at the other teams in the NBA who have also been stuck in the tanking process.

Chicago Bulls:

2017 – Traded for Lauri Markkanen 7th overall

2018: Wendell Carter 7th overall, Chandler Hutchinson 22nd overall

2019: Coby White 7th overall, Daniel Gafford 28th overall 

2019-20 Record: 22-43, 11th in Eastern Conference

Orlando Magic:

2017: Jonathan Isaac 6th overall, Wesley Iwundu 33rd overall

2018: Mohamed Bamba  6th overall, Melvin Frazier 35th overall

2019: Chuma Okeke 16th overall

2019-20 Record: 30-35, 8th in Eastern Conference

Phoenix Suns:

2017: Josh Jackson 4th overall, Davon Reed 32nd overall, Alec Peters 54th overall.

2018: Deandre Ayton 1st overall. Traded for Mikal Bridges 10th overall. Elie Okobo 31st overall.

2019: Traded for Cameron Johnson 11th overall.

2019-20 Record: 26-39, 13th in Western Conference 


And finally…


New York Knicks:

2017: Frank Ntilikina 8th overall, Damyean Dotson 44th overall, Ognjen Jaramaz 58th overall

2018: Kevin Knox 9th overall, Mitchell Robinson 36th overall

2019: RJ Barret 3rd overall, traded for Ignas Brazdeikis, 47th overall

2019-20 Record: 21-45, 12th in Eastern Conference

Underwhelming results

There are some promising players on the teams listed above. Fans of these teams will tell you about their “young core”, and to just be patient.

How long can you keep trusting the process? Sometimes the dropoff from picks 6-15 isn’t quite as drastic as many would think. Teams have found plenty of talent in the middle of the first round.

All Knicks fans would love a contending team with a starting lineup of Frank Ntilkina, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. On the bench: Ignas Brazdeikis, Allonzo Trier, Kenny Wooten, Dennis Smith are all contributing. Every player is reaching their ceiling and thriving. As I mentioned earlier, this is a video game fantasy.  I do believe many of these players can succeed, but they need proven talent around them.

For the Knicks, the only untradeable players are Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett. You keep those guys, and everything else is on the table.

With multiple draft picks, veterans on team options for 2020-2021, and money to spend, we should expect the Knicks’ roster to look very different next season.

There will be plenty of potential impacts free agents, a few names to watch: Fred VanVleet, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danillo Gallinari. There will be some potential trade targets like Chris Paul. The Knicks have assets, and new President Leon Rose could start using them to finally build a winning team.


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