The NBA curated a revised 72 game season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Knicks, who finished 41-31 in one of the most surprising campaigns of the year, seemingly improve their roster this off-season.
The front office decided to retain three of their own, including Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Derrick Rose. They allowed Reggie Bullock and Elfrid Payton to walk, opening up holes at point guard and shooting guard. However, the Knicks were keen on upgrading both spots, signing Evan Fournier to a four-year contract and Kemba Walker to a two-year deal, offering far more offensive production than Bullock and Payton offered last season.
For comparison sake, Payton and Bullock combined for 21 points per game last year, while Walker and Fournier combine for 36.4. That is a tremendous difference that could end up being the margin for success in the win-loss column.
Surprisingly, though, the Las Vegas oddsmakers seem to be rather harsh with the Knicks, presenting a 42.5 over-under for wins. If you are into sports betting, you might want to consider executing on this deal, as the Knicks managed to secure a better win percentage with far less talent during 2020.
Having secured the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference last season thanks to the play of Rose and Julius Randle, the Knicks now have far more firepower on offense to work with. Acquiring Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and free-agent signings this off-season, not only does the team have significantly more depth, but their starters are more productive as well. Tom Thibodeau had trouble at times finding the right combinations, especially with Payton playing poorly at the end of the year and having minimal offensive weaponry beyond Quickly and Burks off the bench.
The Knicks have to focus on two factors to get the team rolling early:
It boils down to two factors, continuity in the health department and chemistry. If Randle can find ways to play efficiently with Kemba Walker at the point guard position, this team could be vastly underrated.
The combination of Rose and Walker should give the Knicks a solid one-two punch while mitigating fatigue for two players who are known to have injury issues. Theoretically, if both point guards split minutes evenly, considering neither played more than 50 games last year, they should be able to remain healthy.
Nonetheless, Vegas has the Knicks at a .524 winning percentage when they landed a .569 percentage last season despite their weaknesses. I would be remiss not to mention the return of Mitchell Robinson, as he eyes a Defensive Player of the Year award, looking stronger end bigger this off-season as he prepares for what he hopes to be his best campaign yet.
Everything surrounding the Knicks seems to be improved, as the coaching staff now has one year of experience under their belt with the squad and the additions of more talent makes these odds rather suspect.